Creative Influences: Artist to Artist – Rockstar meets Novelist

What’s in the drink special? How I connected with SPOILER ALERT…… Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips

I’ve never had a rock star text me, until I did.


Their shows are like going to a kid’s birthday party… and it’s YOUR birthday!

This isn’t a name-dropping blog, or an interview with SPOILER, but more a lesson in why not?

One of the strategies in getting your novel to appear legit and worth someone’s time and money is to get a blurb. To get someone other than the author to go, yeah, this is worth a look. You may not even recognize the names, but then again how many Indie authors can you name off the top of your head?

For The Fountain, I decided to approach artists that had a direct impact on the writing of the book or my creative approach. I asked Pinckney Benedict to write an introduction. He championed the book and pushed me to make it deeper and funnier. I needed that. And also, he understood the book. So, who better to write an introduction that sets the table for a new reader? He happily said yes.

I approached one of my thesis readers, a NY Times best-selling author, ten years after she offered to blurb for me. She said yes. I approached a big-name playwright that I knew from my SoCal circle. He said yes.

Then I made a list of my wish lists of folks I would like to blurb. I didn’t know any of them. I searched for contact info. Found some direct addresses, the others I found their management team. For obvious reasons contacting them directly would remove the chance a gatekeeper might find a trash can to be more convenient than forwarding on my package.

Since my handwriting sucks, I thought I’d type them a letter. On an actual typewriter. I have several– but that’s another story. This way they knew it wasn’t a cut and paste job. Now I didn’t ask for a blurb out of the gate, because then you’re an ass. I wrote and explained why I found them to be a Creative Influence on the project and that I was seeking blurbs from artists of all mediums.  I let them know I had a starred review in Kirkus and dropped the two names that had agreed so they wouldn’t have to be the first through the door, so to speak. Getting the first yes helps build momentum.  Makes the second yes so much easier.

But I also expressed that I knew their time was valuable and reading a book takes time. I flagged the book where they were mentioned or cited, and that if it wasn’t something they didn’t respond to, that it was okay, and that I was just happy to give them a copy of The Fountain as a Thank You. That was the bottom line: Thank you.

I prepped care packages with the hand typed signed letter, the book flagged with areas of interest to them, if applicable. I also included a Whiskey Tit high ball glass and a little bottle of whiskey. These packages shipped Priority at no small cost, but again invest in yourself.

I sent seven packages out to celebrities: a filmmaker, a comedian, two musicians, and a novelist. With the filmmaker and comedian, I had to settle for sending it to their management company. Not ideal as there’d be a delay and much longer odds for a response. The novelist, I found, had just announced a workshop and I sent the package to that address in hopes it someone would feel responsible enough to make sure he got it.

Later that week, the tracking numbers told me all reached their destinations. Okay, now it was out of my hands. It’s like throwing messages in a bottle into the ocean, who knows when or if they will ever be read.

But the process was fun, exciting, and full of potential. My wonderful wife and I made an afternoon of it.

Do not be attached to the outcome.

Zero expectations.

And the next morning, I got a text and a photo…

Sunshine Man Kills Off Giant Ego Head

I recognized the 405 Oklahoma area code.

Maybe you recognize the art…

Maybe you recognize the writing style…

I know I did.

Holy shit. I was excited. I was happy. I shared the moment with my wife– she squealed.

Okay, Hay. Be cool <- this I told myself.

“This is David.
Is this Wayne?”

And it was.

And that is how I connected with Wayne Coyne, Grammy-winning singer of The Flaming Lips.

Don’t go all fan boy. Keep it cool. You’ve already told him what his music and philosophy have meant on your creative journey. I’d already explained his creative influence and how I learned about them back in high school (we have the same hometown) and I sent a picture of me and a friend at a show. He’s read the letter. That’s how he got your cell.

We exchanged a few more texts –  He thanked me and I thanked him. I didn’t ask about a blurb, there was no need. Maybe he’ll read the book. Maybe he won’t. I can barely keep up with my reading, never mind getting ready to tour again.

Absinthe or Wheatgrass? Cheers!

But as an artist that I’ve listened to for decades, whose music I’ve written to, that I’ve organized listening parties around, reached out and said:

thank you.

It was such a boost. It made my weekend and was just pretty damn cool.

I have no idea if a blurb will happen and frankly don’t care. I found satisfaction in the simple acknowledgment of a mutual thank you and a cheers!

Who knows if the other bottles might wash up on a receptive shore? But I’m hopeful.  As the saying goes: You only hit what you aim for and you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Oh Yoshimi…

For more on his creative impact on my writing, see my BEST ADVICE Blog.

Wayne and the Flaming Lips are referenced a couple of times in The Fountain.

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