I’m honored to welcome to the blog Molly Ringle, author of All the Better Part of Me, which is out today. If you’ve followed my blog or Twitter account, no doubt you’ll have seen me gush about this book. It’s one of my most anticipated releases of the past few years. When the author first tweeted about her bisexual romance with new age influences, I was immediately hooked, and I was not disappointed when I got my grubby little hands on an advanced copy. You can read my review here.
Without further ado, here’s the lovely Molly Ringle:
My catchy new wave pop song for Sinter Blackwell
I started listening to the Cure because of Sinter Blackwell. It was the mid-1990s and he was a character I’d invented, a guy with eyeliner and dyed-black hair and a penchant for theatre. What music did he listen to?, I asked myself in trying to flesh him out better. Well, the Cure, I figured, since at the time they were the only example of a goth band I could think of. I also decided I should probably get to know the Cure’s music better myself if I was going to write such details. So I went to a record store (this was before online music; download speeds were still WAY too slow) and bought Staring at the Sea, the Cure’s only best-of CD available at the time.
After listening to that moody, catchy, beautiful album over and over, and soon going out to buy other albums of theirs and doing the same with those, I fell into a deep fever-pitch fandom love that would last me the next decade, and that still lingers at a gentler level.
It didn’t matter that I learned the Cure may not really count as a goth band. (Lead singer Robert Smith has rejected the label.) Their music was magical to me, encompassing everything I could want: playful but dark, scary but sweet, sometimes devastatingly melancholy and other times effervescently happy. I tracked down bootlegs and unofficial B-side collections, copied onto cassette and mailed to me by fellow fans I found online. I learned how to get online and use chat rooms essentially just for that reason. Twenty-some years later, I still follow several of these awesome people on social media.
My obsession led me to branch out into other bands too—I learned about “real” goth bands and got into their music, along with new indie pop that, to my ear, owed a lot to the Cure’s brokenhearted vocals and bright synth. I also came full circle to my popular music roots: whether or not the Cure is goth, they are usually counted as new wave, and new wave was what I had already loved as a kid growing up in the ‘80s. Adam and the Ants! Blondie! Duran Duran! The Go-Gos! I’d liked all of them since elementary school. Turned out the Cure was their close cousin all along.
So what is it, anyway, about new wave that makes it so appealing to me, and so influential to modern indie rock and pop, not to mention to the world’s fashions? With its vivid cosmetics and crazy hair and androgyny, it embraces theatricality, a sassy challenge to the stuffy faction of society. Yet in its song lyrics and tender vocals and romantic melodies, it’s vulnerable too, overflowing with sincere love, lust, and heartbreak. It’s not all-rebellion-all-the-time like some music. It’s sweeter than that. It’s my tribe, and Sinter’s too.
So when I came back to rewrite Sinter’s story recently, I wrote it in that aesthetic style, complete with a running playlist. And even though the book is set in the modern day, not the ‘80s, and is only tangentially about music (the Cure and other bands are mentioned, but the book is much more about love and theatre and family), I feel the story’s sensibilities are fully new wave throughout. Eyeliner, crazy hair, and emotionally vulnerable moments definitely included.
It’s an inconvenient time for Sinter Blackwell to realize he’s bisexual. He’s a 25-year-old American actor working in London, living far away from his disapproving parents in the Pacific Northwest, and enjoying a flirtation with his director Fiona. But he can’t deny that his favorite parts of each day are the messages from his gay best friend Andy in Seattle—whom Sinter once kissed when they were 15.
Finally he decides to return to America to visit Andy and discover what’s between them, if anything. He isn’t seeking love, and definitely doesn’t want drama. But both love and drama seem determined to find him. Family complications soon force him into the most consequential decisions of his life, threatening all his most important relationships: with Andy, Fiona, his parents, and everyone else who’s counting on him. Choosing the right role to play has never been harder.
About the Author:
Molly Ringle was one of the quiet, weird kids in school, and is now one of the quiet, weird writers of the world. She likes thinking up innovative romantic obstacles and mixing them with topics like Greek mythology, ghost stories, fairy tales, or regular-world scandalous gossip. With her intense devotion to humor, she was proud to win the grand prize in the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with one (intentionally) terrible sentence. She’s into mild rainy climates, gardens, ’80s new wave music, chocolate, tea, and perfume (or really anything that smells good). She has lived in the Pacific Northwest most of her life, aside from grad school in California and one work-abroad season in Edinburgh in the 1990s. (She’s also really into the U.K., though has a love/stress relationship with travel.) She currently lives in Seattle with her husband, kids, corgi, guinea pigs, and a lot of moss.
Find/follow her here: