Re-posting this blog for the new followers and also to commemorate the Beatles 50th Anniversary (February 9th, 1964) live performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Selena: It’s always fun chatting with you, and now we can do it in a formal setting. First question: What was the hardest part in writing this book?
Dan: Thanks for hosting me on your blog. When I finished writing the book, I was pretty happy. I thought great, it’s exactly what I wanted. It just needed some tweaks so I fired it off to get it copy edited. My copy editor looked it over and she suggested (very strongly) that it needed a love scene.
Yeah…what? A love scene? Her quote was that it should be “erotic but not pornographic. It’s necessary for the growth of the characters.”
No problem. A love scene, huh? How hard could it be?
Yeah, well I think it would have been easier to explain the plot to Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum” (which I still haven’t been able to figure out and I’ve read it twice).
So I bit the bullet and began to flesh out the scene (sorry) and very soon had something that was pretty awful. I simply had no clue how to write something like this. To get an idea of how it was supposed to be I Googled as many examples of love scenes as I could find. Just about all of them were either pure gorgonzola or belonged in Penthouse Form.
Every once in a while I would meet with my copy editor for coffee and she’d ask me how the scene was going. I would of course lie my ass off and say “great!” To put it in perspective, it took me a little over a year to write the book and it took about six months alone to write the “erotic, not pornographic” chapter. I have to say though, that once I figured out how to approach it, I was able to construct, I think, a pretty good little scene. It was hard (sorry – make that “tough”) but in the end my copy editor was right. It was necessary and I’m happy to say that I was able to pull it off (I’ll stop now…)
Selena: *LOL* No need to apologize, I can assure you that my readers will enjoy it if you keep on going on that one track you’ve gotten yourself on.
So you lied to your editor, huh? I have inside information and guess what, she knew you were lying your ass off. She did have fun ragging on you about it, and pushing you in that direction. I have to say it’s not just a pretty good little scene, it’s a great love scene, you done good and it really did move the characters and story along. You really need to listen to her more often, she’s always right. Just saying…
Okay, since I know you aren’t the gush-acceptance type of guy we’ll move along to the next question: What intrigued you about the 1960’s enough to write about it?
Dan: Well, the 60’s was an intriguing decade—flamboyant and loud, a psychedelic social revolution clothed in bell bottoms, paisley and flowers. It was subversive and radical, a swinging period that juxtaposed war with peace and free love.
Actually “CAN’T BUY ME LOVE” has nothing to do with any of those things but it does take place during one of the seminal moments in rock and roll history. On February 9th, 1964 the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. 73 million people tuned in that night to watch and it was said that not even a hubcap was stolen in the hour that they were on.
The idea of four hapless losers planning a bank heist during that hour was, for me, a natural plot device. I’m a big fan of history and I’ve always preferred stories in historical settings (my first book, “The Judas Apocalypse” for instance, takes place during World War II).
I also write and play music (I’m in a band here in Ottawa), so the combination of the 60’s, the Beatles and a bank heist was tremendously appealing to me.
(By the way, I’d like to point out that musically the 60’s always kinda reminded me of “The Wizard of Oz” — you know how the movie starts off in black and white then turns to color when Dorothy lands in Munchkinland. Before the Beatles, the 60’s was early rock and roll black and white and after the Beatles, everything kicks into glorious psychedelic technicolor.)
Selena: Great comparison between Wizard of Oz and Beatles. But then again, as you know, I’m a huge Beatles fan as well, so I do agree that they put the color back into music.
Do you have a favorite Beatles song? (I know, it’s like asking if you have a favorite child, but is there a song that really connects with you?)
Dan: Wow, that’s a toughie. Honestly,I like just about all of them (except “Michelle” – honestly, what the hell was Paul thinking?) If I have to pick one though, I think I’d pick “Strawberry Fields Forever.” It’s brilliant.
Selena: *LOL* He was thinking about Michelle of course. I question what they were thinking with that whole Sgt. Pepper thing, but I know I may be in the minority. I agree about Strawberry Fields. My favorite Beatles song is “In My Life.”
Do you listen to your own music that you created when writing, or other songs? If so, what are they? Or do you embrace total quietness?
Dan: I usually write in the morning when nobody’s up and no one’s going to phone me. I may have the TV on in the background just for ambiance, but that’s it. If I have music on, I tend to get caught up in it and start thinking about melodies and chord progressions instead of plot lines and characters. Before I know it, I’m dissecting the song and thinking about writing music myself. I then think about the tunes I need to learn for the next gig and I start to feel guilty because I should be going over those tunes. By now the story’s forgotten, I’ve got the synth out, programming sounds for the tunes and getting mad at myself because I can’t figure out the damn licks in “Home For A Rest,” especially because I really don’t like Celtic music and wishing we were playing more Crowded House and Genesis…but I digress.
I guess I kinda like the quiet.
Selena: *LOL* You like it quiet (the atmosphere that is…sorry, I’m a romance writer and well…you know how my mind sometimes works.) Okay, moving along: If you could ask each Beatle one question, what would it be?
Dan: To: John—Who really was the Walrus? I know you said it was Paul in “Glass Onion” but why don’t I believe you?
To: Paul—Whose idea was it to leave in the swearing on “Hey Jude.” yours or John’s?
To: George–When you were writing “Something,” did you realize that was going to be one of the best songs the Beatles ever did?
To: Ringo—Have you figured out yet just how under-rated your drumming is and how that drumming has influenced so many other drummers?
Selena: Great questions. Wish there were a way for us to get those answers. Next up: What is your go-to food when writing?
Dan: Hickory smoked BBQ ribs—they’re my go-to food for anything, really. A pain in the ass to make but oh man…I think I want some now.
Selena: Yeah, they sound good, but I’m trying to figure out how one eats ribs while writing? I know, you are man, meat is where it’s at no matter what your task. Speaking eating, which character in your book would you love to have dinner with, if they came to life. (I know who I’d pick)
Dan: Sarah–she’s smart, sexy and very hot. She’s also fictitious so I wouldn’t have to get her anything for Valentine’s Day.
Selena: Ha! I knew you’d pick her and another day I will have to have you back on the blog and
rant tell us about how you really feel about Valentine’s Day and everything mushy and romantic. By the way, you know I have a crush on Sonny, so of course I’d invite him to dinner. I know, I know, he’s a crook…but his alphaness is quiet appealing 🙂
I also know that you recently have become a master at crock pot cooking. We here at Selena Robins Musings love crock pot talk, can you share one of your favorite crock pot recipes?
Dan: Can you be a master at crock pot cooking? It’s pretty foolproof. My dad’s even got one and he’s been known to burn salad. My favorite recipe is for pork meatballs. My mother used to make them and they’re amazing.
Selena: (Dan’s Pork Meatball Recipe is listed at the end of the interview). Do you have a name for your crock pot? I call mine Lucy. Gitte from Totally Booked calls hers Mike and Pat a book reviewer calls her Snow White. So are you going to jump on this trend? Or are you rolling your eyes and think we’re all a bit crazy (which we are, but in a good way).
Dan: No, I don’t have a name for it. Does it need one? I have a hard enough time coming up with names for my characters let alone a crock pot. (It should be noted that I usually call my daughter Tess “Hey, You” or “Hey, can you stop that” so…)
Selena: *LOL* We’ll see if any of our readers will help you name your crock pot. Thanks again, Dan, for stopping by, it’s been real fun.
Heidi Wiley’s Review
Can’t Buy Me Love takes us back to a time before computers and cell phones; when if you wanted to steal money, you had to rob the bank yourself.
Author Dan McNeil created a sensational story that’s fun and fast paced but with enough drama and twists to make this novel a real page turner that’s wrapped around one of the most famous nights in television history. Along with the main characters that are all unique in their own way, this author also includes a sexy brunette who’s too smart for her own good and four young men from Liverpool who change the course of the music industry forever.
The setting and dialogue stay true to the time without sounding dated. This is a great read for those that can remember that night like it was yesterday and for those who only know of this history through the music that created it.
About Dan McNeil
Dan McNeil was born in Toronto but raised in Ottawa. He grew up in a home surrounded by books and music, ensuring that he would have a love for both. When he got older, his curious interest in all things trivial led him to make an appearance when he was 16 years old on the CBC television show “Trivia” where his team managed to make it all the way to the finals. He spent much of the 80’s playing in bands around Ottawa, later writing and recording two albums of original pop rock with his cousin and song-writing partner Steve Casey. The two had some success, winning a number of song-writing contests including the prestigious NSAI (National Songwriters Association International) competition in 2002.
Dan spent 24 years at CHRO TV in Ottawa as a camera operator and later as senior editor for the station, often composing much of the music for many of their local productions. It was during this time that he decided to try penning a novel. His first book, “The Judas Apocalypse” was published in 2008. He fully enjoyed the experience (in spite of the fact that it took a few years of research and writing to put together) and decided to write another. It was only natural that his love of writing and music would lead him to pen his latest, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” a light hearted romp about a heist during the Beatle’s first visit to the United States in 1964.
Dan’s Book; CAN’T BUY ME LOVE is available on Amazon and other e-book stores and distributors. CAN’T BUY ME LOVE is a light-hearted mystery, suspense, comedy, love story, which will make you laugh out loud and also shed a few tears.
I thoroughly enjoyed CAN’T BUY ME LOVE and highly recommend it.
Dan’s Pork Meatballs
4 pounds of ground pork
1 onion (I prefer onion powder – I hate chunks of onion)
Salt to taste
½ tsp all spice (sometimes I use a little more – whatever you like)
Pepper to taste
Mix it all up and roll into balls. Coat in flour and brown in an oiled skillet. Dump ‘em into the crock pot. Make some gravy (I just get about 5 or 6 packages of pork gravy and make that – I have no idea how to make it from scratch) and pour it all over the meatballs. Cook on low for about 8 hours. I like to get sub buns and make meatball subs with them.