Author to read, sing from ’80s music novel

Former Jamaica Plain resident Terry Kitchen will return to JP to read from his novel, “Next Big Thing,” set in the 1980s Boston music scene, on June 12.

The novel tells the story of Mark Zodiac, a songwriter who moves to Boston from L.A. with his bandmates with the goal of landing a major record label contract and becoming the eponymous “Next Big Thing.”

“It was very rich, the interplay of trying to find a place, an audience and get heard, and within that scene, every band is a little different with their own personalities that work either for or against them,” Kitchen said.

Kitchen was himself in a band in Boston in the 1980s, a major source of inspiration for the novel.

“The great thing about doing fiction instead of a memoir is, you have the freedom to make everything stick to a direction and theme without the extraneous stuff of real life,” Kitchen told the Gazette. “The skeleton of the story is close to history I had, but certainly everything is different. If you happened to be on the scene at the time, you’d recognize a lot of it” in the book, he said.

Along with the novel, Kitchen released an accompanying soundtrack of music he wrote along with the story.

“The main character is a songwriter, so every time there is a scene in the book with a song in it, I’d hear the song in my head and I’d try to work out the music that I was hearing,” Kitchen said, noting that it lengthened his writing process significantly.

“It’s the curse of being a songwriter. I’m useless in trying to do something until I get it worked out,” he said. “There’s a song [on the soundtrack] I’m really mad I didn’t write in 1982, when I’m sure it would’ve been a huge hit.”

Kitchen kept a logbook of every gig his band, Loose Ties, played, including set lists and bands on the same bills, which he used as background information for the novel.

“That was a fun memory-jogger,” he said.

Kitchen will read and sing from “Next Big Thing” at the JP Branch Library, 12 Sedgwick St., on June 12, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Author Terry Kitchen. (Photo courtesy Tim Casey)

Author Terry Kitchen. (Photo courtesy Tim Casey)

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