In Musical Prodigies, Perilous Journey’s, Remarkable Lives, Claude Kenneson quotes a letter that he received from Tim Galloway, the author of The Inner Game of Tennis, “…music is such a natural medium for exploring the inner game that it could lead many to the music within from which all music comes.”
The inner game, as Galloway sees it, is the one you win with yourself. As a writer I have been long interested in this paradox: that the roots of fiction are nebulous, and the first requirement may be to get out of the way and allow the inner voice to speak. As Galloway puts it, to hear the music within. Part of the inspiration for Saved comes from this daily struggle to hear the inner voice and translate it into story.
The struggle for self-discovery is universal, and in young adult literature it is a theme never far below the surface. As a writer for young people, the role of the arts in exploring human development is of particular interest to me. To create a unique, meaningful expression about the human condition through the arts seems to me a valuable, if not essential thing, and one of the ways that young people are most apt to find the inner truths that enrich their lives and sustain them into adulthood.
Music, as Kenneson notes, is a natural medium for exploring the inner world. And I would add, for the adolescent, it offers a means of expression and a kind of communal, spiritual connection that is accessible and often cathartic. The mini-narratives of rock, pop, and MTV, and before that, folk, blues and jazz, are stories about the human condition in a language available to all.
Writing is an act of discovery, and in many ways Sonny Ganter, my protagonist, and I are on the same journey, to find the music within in the face of a demanding and increasingly skeptical world.
In Saved, the protagonist is Sonny Ganter, the son of a renowned rock-and-roll musician, Teddy Ganter, who commits suicide in 1975, when Sonny is six years old. At 17, Sonny has nothing left of his father but a full set of Legacy Classics and an old Vox guitar he stole from a locked display case. His father has killed himself, and his mother has renounced her hard-living ways, removing the family back to the town where she and Teddy grew up. But Sonny can’t escape the music. By age four he had picked out his first tune on the piano. Buy ten he could play all his father’s songs. Now the music plays in his head all the time, and more than anything, he needs to get it out. His girlfriend, Mags, treats him like some kind of prophet. His best friend, Jude, wants to start a band and cash in. And his mother (aka The Momster) wants him to take a respectable job at his grandfather’s tractor plant. All Teddy wants to do is play. But when his father’s old manager, Pico arrives with a handful of Sonny’s forbidden songs, and a pile of old magazine interviews, it starts Sonny on a collision course with his father’s tragic story and his own destiny as a musical visionary and artist.
Saved is a novel in vignettes with multiple narrators, including Sonny, his girlfriend, Mags, his best friend, Jude, a series of old magazine interviews given by Sonny’s father at the height of his fame, and Sonny’s own poetry/lyrics.