Saturday, September 7, 2013

Five(ish) Questions With the Author: Evelyn McDonnell

photo by Brad Elterman
Evelyn McDonnell is assistant professor of journalism and new media at Loyola Marymount University. She has been writing about popular culture and society for more than 20 years. She is the author of four books: Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways, Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids and Rock ‘n’ Roll, Army of She: Icelandic, Iconoclastic, Irrepressible Bjork, and Rent by Jonathan Larson. She coedited the anthologies Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop and Rap, and Stars Don’t Stand Still in the Sky: Music and Myth. She has been the editorial director of, pop culture writer at The Miami Herald, senior editor at The Village Voice, and associate editor at SF Weekly. Her writing on music, poetry, theater, and culture has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, including The Los Angeles Times, Ms., Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Spin, Travel & Leisure, Us, Billboard, Vibe, Interview, Black Book, and Option. She codirected the conference Stars Don’t Stand Still in the Sky: Music and Myth at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York in 1998. She has won several fellowships and awards, including an Annenberg Fellowship at USC and a fellowship to the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. Her 2004 Herald expose of hip-hop cops was awarded first place for enterprise reporting by the South Florida Black Journalists Association and second place in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sunshine State Awards. She earned her Master’s in Specialized Journalism, the Arts, from USC, where she was chosen for the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. She earned her Bachelor’s in American studies, graduating magna cum laude from Brown University. She lives in San Pedro with her husband, son, many animals, and a fantastic view of the ocean.

Evelyn recently humored the Book Frog by giving thoughtful answers to our silly questions. 

BF: I know you have written a lot about women in rock; what drew you to the Runaways as the subject for such an in-depth study? What did you learn during the course of your research and writing that most surprised you about the Runaways? 

EM: I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t first of all love the music. I’m a big fan of their style of glam, punk-pop, hard rock. And their story has so many rich themes and narrative elements: awesome setting (SoCal), sensational era (the ‘70s), and a superb coming-of-age arc. I’m really happy Runaways fans have embraced the book so warmly as a balanced, comprehensive account. But I also think people who have never heard of the band can be drawn into this story of young girls becoming women under extreme circumstances, from thrilling to appalling. 

I was amazed at how hard they worked and how much they accomplished in such a short period of time, at such a young age. They toured the world multiple times and released five albums. It’s no wonder they cracked under the pressure.

BF: Favorite artist or band of all time? Favorite song? Best show you've ever been to? What can you not stop listening to lately?

EM: I have too many favorite artists and songs; I can’t choose. Shows too, though I would have to say Springsteen at the New Orleans Jazz Fest after Hurricane Katrina was an amazing moment, a concert that made me cry.

BF:  What's your musical guilty pleasure?

EM: I love the melody, beat, singing, and composition of “Blurred Lines” I just hate the lyrics. I love that those New Zealand students made a parody of it, so now I can sing their feminist answer record in my head.

BF:  Fantasy rock band: any musicians, living or dead, of any genre. Who's on what instrument and what kind of music are they playing? Bonus question: what's the name of the band?

EM: Katell Keineg – vocals
Tom Morello – guitar
Carrie Brownstein - guitar and vox
Zeena Parkins – harp
Tito Puente – percussion
DJ Spam – turntables
Jon Entwistle – bass
Sandy West – drums
The Memphis Horns - horns

BF:  When you're not listening to music or writing, what do you like to read? 

EM: Novels. I like to lose myself in an imagined narrative and world.

Our discussion and signing with Evelyn McDonnell is Saturday, September 14, at 2 p.m. If you'd like to check out some of her writing, here's a link to her blog Populism, featuring fine (and fun) writing as Evelyn "participates in participatory culture."

No comments: