Calliope FAQ

Here is a page to answer the questions of those who have read Not Famous. Unlike the FAQ on the main site, this one obviously contains spoilers for people who haven’t read the book.

Q: What inspired Alli Conwell’s backstory as Calliope Crawley?

Alli Conwell’s backstory, and technically, the entire novel was inspired by a 2008 Harper’s Bazaar article I came across about Frances Bean Cobain. Even though I’d never really given her any thought before, but I skimmed the article because it piqued my curiosity. What was the daughter of the late Kurt Cobain up to? According to the article, the world was “intrigued” by Frances Bean Cobain, then only fifteen years old? But why?

“I get it, I really do,” Frances says with a wriggle, “but at the same time, it’s creepy. It’s creepy to see fan sites about me.” There are almost 200,000 Web pages featuring Frances, which variously anoint her “the most beloved child in rock ‘n’ roll” or debate burning issues like “Do you think Frances Bean should guest on Hannah Montana?”

“These people are fascinated by me, but I haven’t done anything,” Frances says. “I’m famous by default. I came out of the womb and people wanted to know who I was because of my parents. If you’re a big Nirvana fan, a big Hole fan, then I understand why you would want to get to know me, but I’m not my parents. People need to wait until I’ve done something valid with my life.”

This portion of the article really struck me and gave me all sorts of ideas for a novel about someone who was famous but not really famous. I liked the idea of a character who was the child of a famous rock star, but aside from that, that’s where the similarities between Frances Bean Cobain and Calliope Crawley end.

Q: Is the band Perch inspired by any particular band?

For me, yes. But, I deliberately avoided getting into details about what kind of band they were supposed to be so that readers could make their own assumptions.

Q: Why does Perch come from Buffalo, NY?

Because I set the novel in Boston, MA, when I envisioned the road trip part of the story, I knew Perch had to hail from an area that you can drive to in a day or didn’t require flying. The town they visit is where my sister went to college, and it turned out to be a perfect location for them to go for a number of reasons. It’s near Niagara Falls, which was a convenient cover story for the trip. There have also been a few artists/bands from the Buffalo area (The Goo Goo Dolls, Natalie Merchant, Ani DiFranco) and it’s not known for a particular music genre, like Seattle and grunge/alternative music.

Q: Will there be a sequel?

I have no plans to write a sequel to Not Famous. This is the story of Alli Conwell/Calliope Crawley that I was inspired to write, and at the moment, it’s as far as I’d like to take it. I am, however, working on a second novel that does take place in the same universe, and features a minor character from Not Famous. Whether or not we’ll learn more about what happens to Alli and Nick has yet to be determined.

Q: What’s with the gig flyers in the book?

Over the seven years of writing Not Famous, there were times I wanted to work on it, but wasn’t inspired to write. So, like an actor trying to “get in character” I found ways to really absorb myself in the world I was creating and one way I did that was designing gig flyers for the various shows depicted in the book. This helped me think a lot about the headlining band, the venue… all sorts of things. Eventually, it occurred to me that it might be cool to include some in the book.

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