Friday, June 15, 2018

Come and Get It: How and Why Joyce Isaacson Wrote a Fantasy Novel Inspired by Badfinger

Author Interview & Book Preview

Wish You Were Here, Badfinger
A Rock Fantasy
by Joyce Isaacson
Available via Amazon: Print | Kindle

Copies signed by the author, with bonus photo e-booklet, unpublished segment and drawing entry for a Joey Molland-autographed Badfinger LP are available by contacting Joyce at: sharonj0023@yahoo.com


To say I was surprised to learn that Joyce Isaacson was writing a now-published book inspired by the  British band, Badfinger--long-defunct in terms of its original incarnation--should not be seen as a reflection on her.

Rather it serves as a reminder--to me as much as anyone--that people often have a lot going on beyond what you know and might expect.

I've long loved learning that co-workers over the years were also exceptional painters, actors, musicians, comedians, writers, photographers and people who ran marathons, founded charities, made wood carvings and did myriad other impressive things.

And it's fascinated me to think about all the amazing talents, hobbies, passions and pursuits I haven't known about among people I did.

Joyce, now 56, has been married to a cousin of mine, Phil, for nearly 30 years. He's not a first cousin, but one I've known my whole life, albeit not too closely.

Until relatively recently, I hardly knew Joyce at all. And when she and Phil did join me and some other relatives at a dinner a few years back, she hardly seemed to speak.

Again, this isn't a knock on her, but I wouldn't have suspected that she and I have some rather similar passions.

And though Phil and I have been connected on Facebook since 2015, through which I have been further illuminated to his passionate love of rock music--he runs an internet radio station called Friendly Smile Frenzy Network, which also has a mobile app--it wasn't until the last few months that I even thought of "friending" Joyce.

Exacerbated by a chance encounter with her and Phil at a City Winery concert by The Zombies in March, upon which we had a nice conversation, my interest was piqued by a Facebook post by Phil alluding to the then forthcoming Badfinger book.

Titled Wish You Were Here, Badfinger and subtitled A Rock Fantasy, the book is not a biography of Badfinger--known for their early-70s hits, "Come and Get It," "No Matter What," "Day After Day" and "Baby Blue"--nor a work of non-fiction, but rather a novel inspired by the band, two of their ill-fated members and their loyal fans.

As it turns out, Joyce--now a grandmother--has been a rock fan since the 1960s, professing to have "never stopped loving the Beatles." (Badfinger was notably signed to the Fab Four's own Apple Records, with Paul McCartney having written "Come and Get It" for them, but Joyce was oblivious at the time.)

Per Joyce, her mom--who worked as a catalog model and had her at 18--actually met The Beatles, Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones, including Brian Jones, who died in 1969 and with whom Joyce has long been deeply fascinated.

Also from a young age, Joyce Isaacson (nee Margolis) loved to write, winning a poetry contest in grammar school, working on the high school newspaper at Chicago's Von Steuben and eventually handling various roles within the Chicago Tribune's Editorial Department over a 10-year stint.

Meeting Phil through a mutual friend, their first date was at the ALS Mammoth Music Mart, a used record sale that formerly was held annually at Old Orchard Shopping Mall. They also saw the Rolling Stones at Alpine Valley Music Theatre during their courtship, before getting married in 1990, and a shared love of music--even if not completely congruent--has always been part of their bond, according to Joyce

In 2013, Phil asked Joyce if she could put away some albums he had played on his radio station, one of these being The Best of Badfinger.

Though never a huge fan, through a friend in the mid-80s Joyce had gotten Badfinger guitarist Joey Molland--who maintained a latter-day version of the band, and still does--to sign a 45 of "Baby Blue" for her during an appearance at a Chicago club. Joyce tried to connect with Molland at subsequent shows, but never did.

So years later, she was struck by reading about him in the LP's liner notes, and also mesmerized and quite saddened to learn that two Badfinger members--singer/guitarist Pete Ham and bassist Tom Evans--had committed suicide, in 1975 and 1983, respectively.

And among other standout tracks, Joyce was particularly enamored by the Beatlesque "Rock of All Ages." (She now cites "I Got You" and "Sympathy" as favorites.)

Convinced by Phil to join Facebook, Joyce initially joined a group dedicated to Led Zeppelin--another iconic band I was surprised to learn she absolutely loves--and at some point in 2014, one comprised of Badfinger fans.

In doing so, she says, "I found everybody was hurting about Pete and Tommy."

As a Facebook Status Update, Joyce was compelled to write a story that imagined Ham and Evans in heaven, where they met other passed on rock luminaries, including Brian Jones. This received 562 user comments, most effusively positive. 

Soon after, Joyce was inspired to create her own Badfinger group, whose name now shares that of the book, Wish You Were Here, Badfinger: A Rock Fantasy by Joyce Isaacson (hyperlink is to the Facebook group).

She built a community of nearly 1,100 followers through active outreach, and for 4 years has added almost daily to a serialized story about Pete and Tommy in the afterlife.

Fans clamored for her to turn these writings into a book, and though initially reluctant--and faced with shortening 800 pages worth of material--she now has.

This is actually Joyce Isaacson's second published book, following the unrelated Parallel Journey in 2007.

Still, editing herself proved quite daunting, and after 8 rewrites on her own, she connected with editor named Dennis De Rose, who she says worked wonders for a rather reasonable fee.

I have purchased a Kindle copy for just $5, but have yet to begin reading it.

Softcover copies are also available via Amazon--presently for $19.07--and Joyce notes that through the site's "Look Inside" feature, one can freely read the first three chapters of Wish You Were Here, Badfinger before making a purchasing decision.

Those wanting a copy signed by Joyce Isaacson, for $25 and including a bonus e-booklet of rock 'n roll photographs, an unpublished segment featuring Marilyn Monroe and--for a limited time--a drawing entry to win a Badfinger LP signed by Joey Molland should email Joyce at: sharonj0023@yahoo.com.

Speaking to Joyce just days after the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain added poignancy to discussing a book concerning Pete Ham and Tom Evans, and her wish is that reading her novel may prove therapeutic to others, as writing it certainly was for her.

"Ideally, it can give hope to people in tough times," she expressed.

Nobly, Joyce will be donating 1% of book sales (or perhaps profits) to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

So while I look forward to reading Wish You Were Here, Badfinger: A Rock Fantasy when I get a chance--and a sequel is already in the works--I think just as cool is simply knowing that Joyce Isaacson wrote it.

And why.

2 comments:

Humaun Kabir said...

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Michael Maris said...

WISH YOU WERE HERE Badfinger A Rock Fantasy, by Joyce Sharon Isaacson, is a well written touching story with a unique blend of fantasy, the paranormal and unforgettable exploration of the power of love and the monumental questions of life, death, and the afterlife. It awakens a sense of the mystery of the afterlife in heaven and the supernatural in readers where the lead character in this journey, former “Badfinger” rock star Tommy Evans, travels through the various levels of heaven in search of his band member and close friend Pete Ham. Both had died 8 years apart and are pulled toward each other in a magnetic kind of way aided by a guardian angel and other famous souls like Jim Morrison, Gilda Radner, Keith Moon, Andy Kauffman,Lucile Ball and many more he encounters along the way while
avoiding Demons on his desperate search to reunite. It becomes a powerful journey of emotional discovery and a test of belief in his anxious search. Artfully and skillfully written with warmth, an intricate plot and sophisticated characters written with depth, richness and sensitivity, It will keep readers spellbound as they read on and evident from the creative writing that one has the gift of
sustaining the reader’s interest throughout this story written with lively dialogues and vivid descriptions.

WISH YOU WERE HERE Badfinger A rock Fantasy is one of those books that readers will find hard to put down. It's a real pageturner that gives you an unbelievable almost realistic look at what the afterlife in heaven could be like. It's not your regular paranormal story and I can see the probability of more episodes, a possible movie or an interesting series may be on the way in the future !!!

Michael Maris