Remember Jackson Sharp?
The wily protagonist of “That’ll Be The Day: A Power Pop Heist” returns in an all new music-laden adventure with author S.W. Lauden’s “Good Girls Don’t: A Second Power Pop Heist.”
The second, and worthy, addition to Lauden’s Power Pop canon begins with the Sharp family working hard for the money at their Tulsa music shop and, on top of that, they’ve got a Jamie & The Jaxx reunion album in the boiler. Add to the mix the insanity of the shop’s hugely popular Record Store Day and things just couldn’t be better.
That is until the unsavory, cowboy boot-wearing multi-millionaire Russell Patterson shows up with an assignment. Spend a week in Los Angeles at the MCA Whitney studio to finish that album they’re working on, he tells Sharp, and take care of a little side-job while there.
That side job? Steal the ’72 Fender Strat Doug Fieger played when he recorded the hit song “My Sharona.” On the surface not a tall order, not easy, but not impossible. Little do they realize, however, they’re not the only ones out to get it.
Lauden continues to write the hits in this second installment, which builds upon the gritty criminal flair of the first, and is sure to get you humming a song or two while you read.
Good Girls Don’t can be picked up here! Read on to rock on with my S.W. Lauden interview below.
WHITEHURST: What made you want to return to Tulsa and the Sharp family? And welcome back.
LAUDEN: Thanks for having me back! This was always going to be a series of some sort. That was part of the consideration for the shorter-length books. The idea was to create a fully fleshed-out universe and then write a bunch of punchy stories set there. As attention spans get shorter (mine and the readers!), I think there’s room for more “beach reads” in crime fiction. Fast-paced novelettes you can knock out in a couple hours on the subway, on a plane, during a court recess, or around the pool. As of now, the plan is to publish a new book every June—which seems doable—but I’ve also considered publishing every six months if there’s an audience. It’s kind of an experiment, but I’m having fun with it.
WHITEHURST: In the new novelette, you name drop some obscure, and some famous, bands. What’s the toughest part when it comes to researching a book in your world?
LAUDEN: Funny enough, the music research was pretty minimal. I co-edited an essay collection last year called Go All The Way: A Literary Appreciation Of Power Pop. So I’ve been steeped in that musical genre for a while now, even beyond my own personal knowledge. Although it is a good excuse to dig into the vinyl collection…
The mix of obscure and famous songs is important because you don’t want to distract from the action with an endless stream of random band names. Most crime fiction lovers will know The Knack thanks to “My Sharona,” but far fewer will know, say, 20/20 much less Rubber City Rebels. I’m guessing most readers don’t pick these books up to get lectured about obscure guitar pop bands; that’s just the set dressing. As the author, I have to strike a balance. On the other hand, if readers seek those bands out because of my books, that would be great—but definitely not required to enjoy the stories.
WHITEHURST: Any playlists to listen to while reading this particular heist?
LAUDEN: For sure! The series is based in Tulsa, so you’ll want to check out (or revisit) Dwight Twilley, Phil Seymour and 20/20. The Sharp brothers go to LA in Good Girls Don’t, so add bands like The Beat, The Bangles, The Plimsouls, The Go-Go’s, The Nerves and, of course, The Knack. And they end up in Chicago, so finish off with some Cheap Trick, Off Broadway, Shoes and Material Issue. Any one of those bands will take you down a glorious YouTube or streaming rabbit hole. Trust me, there’s lots of great power pop to discover down there.
If that’s too much work, this Spotify power pop playlist from director James Gunn is pretty comprehensive. The song “Calling All Destroyers” from my old band Tsar is on there, so he obviously has excellent taste. [Insert Humble Brag Emoji]
WHITEHURST: Last time we talked you mentioned that your band, The Brothers Steve, would be releasing an album. How is that coming along, and how did your love for pop inform the writing process for Good Girls Don’t?
We released that album, #1, last July and I’m happy to say it made a bunch of “Best of 2019” lists in the (ahem) mature power pop universe where we roam. More recently, we struck a deal with Big Stir Records in LA and they’ll be re-releasing that album, along with some new singles and B-sides. There’s also rumblings about a second album at some point. Right now we’re recording tracks for a couple upcoming tribute compilations that should see the light of day later this year or early 2021.
It’s funny, I didn’t set out to be the musician who wrote crime fiction about musicians—but I ‘m kinda stoked that’s how it turned out. Music has been such a big part of my life for so long now that it has become one of the main filters that I experience the world through. So I shouldn’t be surprised that it plays such an important role in my writing. I’ve decided to just embrace it.
WHITEHURST: What’s next for S.W. Lauden?
I’ve got a couple new standalone novels written. Trying to figure out what to do with those. And I’m working on some non-fiction projects along the lines of Go All The Way: A Literary Appreciation Of Power Pop. I’m always looking for something interesting to keep my squirrely brain occupied.
BIO: S.W. Lauden co-edited the essay collection, Go All The Way: A Literary Appreciation of Power Pop. His crime fiction novelette, That’ll Be The Day: A Power Pop Heist, was released in 2019. The follow up, Good Girls Don’t: A Second Power Pop Heist, will be available June 29, 2020. His Greg Salem punk rock PI series includes Bad Citizen Corporation, Grizzly Season and Hang Time. S.W. Lauden is the pen name of Steve Coulter, drummer for Tsar and The Brothers Steve.