|Lonnie Ostrow, Author|
POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION
Lonnie Ostrow brings us POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION, a book in a different genre—musical fiction. Contained within his romantic suspense novel are ten original song compositions. Set in New York City in the 1990s, it will appeal to fans of pop music and readers of contemporary romance.
Ostrow is now working on a second novel, which he plans to publish next year. He lives in Long Island with his wife and daughters and commutes to New York City to his full-time job with novelist, Barbara T. Bradford. He also mentors new novelists and has served as a PR executive.
Q: How would you characterize the genre of POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION? Romance? Literary fiction? Why? Who will most enjoy reading it?
Lonnie Ostrow: My novel would best categorized as “musical fiction,” although sadly you won’t find any genre like that on Amazon, or at your favorite bookstore. It’s been hailed as “the ultimate rock and roll love story.” It is a contemporary mainstream fiction novel set in the 1990s in New York City. And yes, it centers around a star-crossed love story, so it can also be classified as romantic suspense. It will be enjoyed by fans of pop music from the past 40 years, readers of modern romance, and those nostalgic about the 1990s.
Q: How do you integrate music into the story?
Lonnie Ostrow: The protagonist, Johnny Elias, is a poet turned songwriter who composes lyrical stanzas when inspired by events in his life. At the outset, he is writing poems about major news events like the ’91 Crown Heights Riots and the free concert by Paul Simon in Central Park. Later, when his heart is broken, he pens a break-up song to reveal to his longtime girlfriend that he knows of her betrayal. This song gets recorded and is the catalyst to launching a career as a recording artist. All told, there are ten original song compositions inside the story. Two of them have been professionally recorded and can be viewed as music videos on my author website: LonnieOstrow.com. So this novel has an audio soundtrack.
Q: How helpful was your background as innovator, promoter and celebrity-insider to conceive and tell POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION?
Lonnie Ostrow: I’ll start with the celebrity-insider part. For over twenty years, I’ve worked closely with many of the world’s most beloved entertainers. I’ve had the unique opportunity to get to interact with these icons in private moments when life is anything but glamorous. As outsiders, we see the image they want us to see. Privately, they cope with most of the same everyday issues as the rest of us. And often it is a struggle to live up to the pressure of lofty expectations. I’ve transferred a lot of this into my novel about a fictional rock star and his struggles to find a measure of happiness amid all his overnight success. As a promoter, I’ve seen public relations used for both building people up and tearing them down in differing circumstances. My PR savvy was leaned upon to show how hype can build a superstar, and how publicity can be weaponized to damage reputations just as easily.
Q: Why will readers embrace your protagonist? What will make them care?
Lonnie Ostrow: Johnny Elias is a loveable underdog. One reviewer recently dubbed him “a musical Rocky.” He’s grown up bouncing through a series of Brooklyn foster homes, always down on his luck. But he is a talented underdog who doesn’t fully comprehend his abilities as a songwriter and later as a singer until he has his heart shattered by his longtime love. Johnny is loyal and generous to his friends and bandmates. He is untainted by his overnight stardom and never forgets his roots, or those who helped him to reach success. He’s also a sensitive, thoughtful young man who can turn any emotion into a song. Life and love knocks him to the ground many times. But in the end, he endeavors to utilize all his creative resources to win back everything in most spectacular fashion. Readers will be rooting for him from the opening scene to the final paragraph.
Q: Would you say that the mother, Katherine Price, is a villain? What makes an effective, compelling villain?
Lonnie Ostrow: In John Lennon’s famous song, Working Class Hero, he has a line that says, “first you must learn how to smile as you kill.” I would say that all memorable villains possess that trait. Katherine Price is not a murderer. She is however, highly skilled in putting on the perfect face for every public occasion. As a self-made PR power-broker in New York City, Katherine sees herself as an elitist with a high standard for herself and her children. She believes to have their best interests at heart. In reality, her competitive nature turns her callous and later vindictive for perceived slights against her. She uses her vast power and manipulative skills to take down those who she sees as standing in the way of her happiness. She’s a complicated villain, in that she truly loves her children, but loses touch with reality when her agenda becomes destructive.
Q: Why did you choose to set POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION in the 1990s rather than make it current?
Lonnie Ostrow: My first draft of this story was actually a screenplay that I wrote for a class assignment in my senior year at Adelphi university back in 1992. So it was a “current” story when I first conceived of it. In 2002, when I adapted this screenplay into a novel, I held a great appreciation for the nostalgic tone that the 1990s provided. Furthermore, the original song compositions that I wove into the story were mostly written during the early 90s in response to events from that era. They blended seamlessly into the storytelling.
One other reason for keeping the story in the 90s is the dearth of quality pop music during that decade. This was a time when rap, grunge, prefab boybands and video vixens replaced the singer-songwriters on top-40 radio. Outside of a handful of 80s bands like U2 and REM, the 90s were devoid of songwriters with something to say in their music. The fictional Johnny Elias fits nicely into this era, in that he truly is the poet of the wrong generation. Only Johnny’s throwback style somehow manages to connect with both older and younger music listeners as a refreshing alternative to the mostly shallow and transitory musical phenomenons of that time period.
Q: How helpful was it to set the story in New York City? Were you able to apply The City’s ambience?
Lonnie Ostrow: New York City is one of the primary supporting characters in this novel. It both opens and closes on the Great Lawn in Central Park with a pair of mega-concerts. One is Paul Simon’s 1991 performance, where we meet Johnny Elias as a twenty year-old music fan, taking in the show with his longtime girlfriend, Megan, and his best college buddy, Andy. Megan Price and her family live on Fifth Avenue in an apartment facing Central Park. Johnny is both enamored with this scene, and yet feels sorely out of place in this high-class world. He travels by subway and bus from his one-room Brooklyn apartment to visit Megan in her opulent neighborhood. When success strikes, Johnny moves from Brooklyn to Central Park West, where he never quite feels at home. He’s just as focused on the homeless outside Central Park as he is with the tranquility of its greenery. So many of Manhattan’s great landmarks make for stunning backdrops to the unfolding drama throughout the story.
Q: Did you write POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION strictly to entertain readers? Or did you embed a few messages or themes along the way?
Lonnie Ostrow: There’s this one brief moment in the early part of the story when Johnny Elias encounters a homeless man on Fifth Avenue. He hands the man a dollar. The man responds with the line: “May all your dreams come true. Just be careful what you wish for.” The subtitle of my novel is: A Fable Of Stardom’s Rewards. Indeed, Poet is a story of an aimless daydreamer who imagines musical stardom to be the pinnacle of everything. Then he becomes an overnight superstar and the view is drastically different on the other side of fame. I wrote this novel to entertain, to wax nostalgic on the 1990s, and to express the poetic, emotional side of art and the artist. It’s also a journey of discovery for Johnny and Megan in their search for lasting harmony.
Q: What’s next? Will you write another novel?
Lonnie Ostrow: I started a second novel back in 2005. It has a title, which I’ll hold off on divulging. This is another cynical look at stardom from an entirely different perspective. It is also set primarily in New York City, though it features a different cast of disenfranchised characters in search of notoriety and respect. I got some 300 pages in (about halfway), when I decided to put it on hold until the publication of Poet. I now plan to go back and complete this novel sometime in 2017.
Q: Tell us about Lonnie Ostrow. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Lonnie Ostrow: I’m a hardworking family man. I live on Long Island’s south shore with my wife and our two daughters. I commute daily to NYC to my full-time job with the famed novelist, Barbara T. Bradford. In my “spare time” I mentor a wide array of aspiring novelists with editorial and marketing assistance for their debut novels. Since 2015, I’ve been a staff member of The Editorial Department in Tucson, AZ. I provide their client authors with assistance on their book content, as well as building fundamental marketing infrastructure to help them build their own start-up fan-base.
About Lonnie Ostrow
Lonnie Ostrow has been an innovator, storyteller, promoter and celebrity-insider for more than two decades. With POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION, he combines all his unique experiences to bring you a novel of love & betrayal, music & fanfare, downfall & redemption—a fable of stardom’s rewards, set in New York City during the 1990s. Since 2001, Mr. Ostrow has been the publicity/marketing director & researcher for the iconic best-selling novelist Barbara T. Bradford. Previously he served as a PR executive, promoting an assortment of first-time celebrity authors. From 1995-2001, Mr. Ostrow was widely credited with inventing the “living celebrity postal phenomenon.” In all, he worked with more than 40 legendary personalities, creating major media events to celebrate their postal recognition by an assortment of foreign nations.
“It’s not that I don’t love you, and my tears are yet to dry.
But you can’t go back and forth forever and we’ve already said goodbye.”
Through these words, a young poet unearths his musical soul while severing ties with the woman he loves after her stunning betrayal. Unknowingly, in writing this ballad of liberation, he will soon evolve as one of the fastest rising stars on the pop music landscape.
The year is 1991; the place, New York City. Here we meet Johnny Elias, a college student from Brooklyn with boundless adoration for two things in life: timeless popular music, and the heart of a sweet, complicated young woman who is clearly out of his league.
Megan Price not only is the object of Johnny’s affection, but also the only daughter of New York’s most powerful PR woman: the indomitable Katherine Price.
Projecting that her daughter’s boyfriend will never live up to the family standard, Katherine cleverly perpetrates a series of duplicitous schemes to rid Johnny from her high-class world. But in her callous disregard, she inadvertently sets him on a determined course to his improbable musical destiny - while sending her own daughter spiraling down a path of despair.
POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION tells the symmetrical story of a lovable underdog and his meteoric rise to stardom, his humiliating downfall and his unprecedented attempt to reclaim his place as the unlikely musical spokesman for his generation. At the heart of Poet is a tale of star-crossed lovers and their struggle with unforeseen success and disillusionment, in an attempt to rediscover lasting harmony.
Uniquely integrating a variety of original song compositions, POET projects the epic clash between true contentment and the fable of stardom’s rewards; a nostalgic journey through the major events of the 1990s, with a cherished cast of characters and a stunningly unpredictable conclusion.
Audio soundtrack of the original music from POET OF THE WRONG GENERATION can be heard on the author website, LonnieOstrow.com.