Once I decided that the main character in my new book, CHASING NIRVANA (click for the presale link) was obsessed with Kurt Cobain, I needed to know this man. I'm a Seattleite and lived in Seattle during Nirvana's epic rise but I my book doesn't focus on Cobain himself but the inspiration he offered a young, bullied gay girl growing up in 1993 in Aberdeen Washington. These days Aberdeen boasts a sign as you ride into town that says "Come as You Are," based on the popular song of their hometown hero. Back in the 1990's Cobain wasn't revered. He left town because small town America didn't welcome long-haired dope smoking loners who were interested in art, music and getting the hell out of town.
It made perfect sense that a young gay girl would idealize Cobain, find solace in his lyrics and raw, emotional sound. Cobain said, "I'm not gay, although I wish I was just to piss off the homophobes." Although this was long before an 18 year girl could cruised the internet to hear those exact words, my girl Fran hears hope in Cobain's music. She knows that "Smells Like Teen Spirit," is angry, ironic and sarcastic. She's trapped in the same high school hallways that Cobain and Kurt Novoselic roamed a mere ten years ago.
Fran's epic quest is Quixotic. Although filled with self doubt in her ability to pull it off, she embarks on a road trip with friends to California to a Nirvana concert. Her plan is to sneak backstage and ask Kurt Cobain to play at prom. She's been hate-nominated for prom queen and in a true life twist, which happened in the 1990's in Mt. Vernon Washington, the PTSA at Fran's school organize an alternate prom. Although I can't tell you much more about Cobain in the book without major plot spoilers --- the best thing I found about exploring Cobain's personality was his sense of humor. "I'd rather be dead than cool," is a man who understands the mythologizing of rock legends even as he was becoming one. He wanted to make music, laugh with his friends and have fun. Unlike the main character in my book Cobain didn't find his way out of the darkness. In the end it extinguished his fire far too soon.
Ellyn Oaksmith is the USA Today bestselling author of four books, including the upcoming Chasing Nirvana. She lives in Seattle with her family. To win a Kindle Fire, join the Facebook Launch of Chasing Nirvana.
How do I find ideas?
They find me. We date for a while & if things work out, we marry. For one year. Best books for writers? Stephen King On Writing Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.