In Print : Between the sheets
"Sheet Music" by Ann Lister, self-published. 512 pp. $19.57.
For years, Ann Lister entertained friends by telling them her dreams as stories. Her friends encouraged her to turn one of them into a book, and the result is "Sheet Music," her recently self-published debut novel.
"It's difficult when you think you've finished a book. The manuscript of 'Sheet Music' shuffled around for 12 years," says the Oak Bluffs author. "I rewrote it and polished it up after having gone back to it. I was so nervous bringing it to print. As an artist, it's never done, but there comes a point when you just have to walk away."
"Sheet Music," a double entendre that captures the tone of the novel, is a romance between Annie Logan, a singer trying to make it big, and Michael Wade, a full-out rock star. The novel spans more than a decade of their lives, traveling from large rock venues to the private beaches of Martha's Vineyard. The idea of finding perfect sheet music, both in music and in more horizontal pursuits, resounds throughout.
A series of dramatic events drives the narration, but the real core of it is the interactions between characters. "I live vicariously through my characters at times," says Ms. Lister. "I do a lot of work prior to the story. I get the bone structure down on paper, but when I do sit down on the computer the characters really come to life. They become living breathing people and leave their two-dimensional form. I often feel like I don't have control of the characters, that I just channel them down on paper."
In order to write rock stars, Ms. Lister, who once ran a video production company and worked with many musicians, drew upon her experiences working on music videos. "These rock stars live by a completely different set of rules. If you look at them from the outside, you see them as freaks. To them, there's really no other way to live."
After summering on the Vineyard with her family for close to 12 years, Ms. Lister and her husband, builder Robert Lister, moved to the Island year-round from central Massachusetts, giving Ms. Lister the creative rush she needed to bring the project, her first book, to publication.
At 500 pages, the self-published novel follows the characters along a long and winding journey. "The truth of it is, I was so in love with the characters that I didn't want to let them go," she says. "They're people who, if they were real, I would love to have dinner with. "