When I was a wee little Levin, waaaaayyy back in the 1980s, my dad said something that's stuck with me over the ensuing decades: "Everyone has a book inside of them, waiting to be written." Though my father often gave terrible advice, I accepted this one piece of wisdom as gospel. Somewhere, deep down inside of me, I just knew that there was a book waiting to be unchained and unleashed upon the world. In 2013, when I pulled the plug on my band, Far From Kansas, I heard my father's voice echoing through my waking hours. The book was there, in its gestational state, eagerly awaiting evolution. I just needed to make time to write it.
After reading a Rolling Stone article about Nine Days frontman John Hampson, I realized that my bizarre life of teaching during the day and playing in a band at night wasn't such a unique duality. What must it be like, I wondered, for a student to discover that her mild-mannered English teacher used to be a rock star? And there it was. My novel.
The seed of inspiration had been planted and my book was swirling in the ether, quietly taking shape as I explored characters and plot lines. I wrote my first scene in April of 2014 - Saturday, April 19th, to be exact - while I waited in line outside Salzer's Records in Ventura for National Record Store Day. Over the next few months, pages poured out of me. The work came quickly; and while it wasn't all gold, there was enough bronze and silver for me to forge something worth reading.
A lot has happened since then. My second daughter was born. My father passed away after a long battle with cancer. My stepfather died unexpectedly of a heart attack. We moved into a new house. I came out of "teaching retirement" and returned to the classroom for a stranded batch of AP English students. I secured financing for a recording studio on campus. I co-produced four albums with the school Choir program.
All of these experiences informed the novel that I had been secretly writing. Sometimes, life imitated art; just as often, art imitated life. Occasionally, life and art swirled together in anarchic mixtures with blurry lines.
Now, six years after writing that first scene, my debut novel is done. Technically, my long-gestating book has evolved into two books: Side A and Side B. As I put the final touches on the first novel in this "duology," I'm excited to share my words with the world.
So, my father was partially right. There was a book inside of me, waiting to be written... it just ended up being two books. I only hope that there are many more to follow.