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The Map

The Map

One of the interesting parts of the post-release stage of publishing a book is figuring out all over again how to talk about it. Not in press releases or web text or newsletters or e-mails—by the time the book comes out, that’s all long since been drafted. But that’s all written work; once you’re standing in front of people talking out loud about a book, new ways of describing its features and contours often appear spontaneously, bubbling up from the shadowy corners of the subconscious.

That’s definitely happened with My Heart Sings the Harmony. Oh, I still talk about the fact that it collects more than 100 album reviews, artist interviews, and essays about music, my personal favorites from 20 years of writing about music. But one thing I hadn’t completely figured out—how this non-fiction collection relates to my prior book, the novel Believe in Me—has suddenly become clear as day.

Believe in Me tells the story of a semi-outsider—political operative Tim Green—who stumbles headlong into the role of advisor to megastar frontman-slash-environmental activist Jordan Lee. The story lives mostly inside the world of music; for much of the book Tim is out on tour with Jordan’s band Stormseye, and scattered throughout the book are scenes and flashbacks that reflect the passion for music shared by Tim and his recently deceased father, music journalist Bernie Green.

The image that came to me recently as I was talking about how the new book relates to the first one is of the maps you’ll sometimes find in the front section of a novel, showing the topography of the world (whether partially real or entirely invented) that its characters inhabit. I love those maps; they give the fictional world you subsequently encounter extra fullness and dimension, helping you visualize the environment in which the story takes place.

What I realized about My Heart Sings the Harmony is this: it’s the map for the world inhabited by the characters in Believe in Me. It measures and charts the hills and valleys and rivers and bridges of the world of popular music that Tim is thrust into in Believe in Me, a world that will be the backdrop once again for the next Tim Green story, coming in 2017.

I hope you’ll join me on that journey. In the meantime, though, here’s the map. Study up.

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