When I was in grade school, I once won my schoolwide spelling bee. It was awful (and required me to compete at an even higher level!). Given that the national spelling bee finals are tonight, I wrote a piece about my experience, which was published by the Huffington Post. You can read the whole thing here.
My friend and fellow author, Kelley Harrell, is publishing her newest book, Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism, on May 30. We had a conversation recently about teens, alternative faiths, and misperceptions of both, over on the Wild Hunt blog. Please click over to check it out. Here's a snippet:
In the beginning of the book, you say that we often don’t think of children as wise. Where do you think that idea comes from, and why is it wrong?
Kelley: I think it comes from old virtues around control and a general need to see children as creatures to be shaped, rather than allowed to unfold. That ideology hasn’t worked for myself or anyone I’ve worked with. I find so many wounds around suppressing the wisdom of childhood. What’s wrong about that is obviously that it denies the intrinsic value of the child, though it also creates a rut in which adults become stuck and don’t grow. The education system in the US is a great example of that. Instead of realizing that forcing all kids down the same curriculum the same way doesn’t work, we keep finding ways to narrow the system. It’s a pattern of, “This is how we’ve always done it, ” rather than allowing individuality and creating ways to meet needs more openly.
This week, I shared a story from my teenage years -- how I discovered heavy metal, and why it mattered and still does matter so much to me -- for KQED's "Perspectives" series. You can read the text and listen to my story here.
A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a book launch and reading for "The Columbine Effect" in San Francisco. If you missed the event, here's the video:
"The Columbine Effect: How five teen pastimes got caught in the crossfire and why teens are taking them back," is out now. You can buy it at many online bookstores, and order it from just about any brick-and-mortar bookshop. The Kindle version is available exclusively on Amazon.
To celebrate the book's release, I did an interview with Laura Barcella, one of the editors at xoJane. Here's an excerpt:
What were your own teen years like? Do you have any personal history or affinity for the 5 teen pastimes referenced in your book's title?
I fell in love with heavy metal when I was about 16. And I was struck, for example, by how a fast thrash song like Metallica’s “Damage, Inc.” would make me feel giddy and bouncy, instead of surly and angry -- as metal’s critics suggested it would. I’ve listened to metal consistently since I was a teenager and it almost never fails to make me feel good, but until I read academic research on the genre, particularly Jeffrey Jensen Arnett’s “Metalheads,” I figured I was an outlier. It turns out that most fans of metal say that it calms them down, picks them up, and makes them feel better. That discovery was one of many that sparked my interest in writing this book. I wanted to show that the reality of these pastimes is vastly different from what we hear about in the news.
Read the whole Q&A here.
Adrien Begrand over at Decibel Magazine's "Sucker for Punishment" blog included The Columbine Effect in his metalhead gift guide, and gave it a pretty sweet writeup. He calls it "Easily the most thoughtful book I’ve seen about heavy metal/youth culture this year."
Last night, I chatted with Invisible Oranges editor Scab Casserole on East Village Radio about the book, told stories and aired a number of metal songs that were scapegoated in the 1980s and 1990s for allegedly leading people into suicide or violence. It was a great conversation, and if you missed it, you can catch up (and see the playlist) here.
On Sunday, I did a lengthy interview with the folks at the Mystical Positivist (on KOWS Radio) about paganism, teens, stereotypes and spirituality. That's now online here.
On Friday, the folks at the Armstrong & Getty radio show interviewed me during one of their morning segments about my new book, The Columbine Effect. If you missed hearing it live, you can check out my interview towards the last 10 minutes of this clip. I also appeared on KSRO's morning news program on Oct. 15; I wish it was archived online. Still, it was a fun interview.
Today, I have a new piece up on PopMatters celebrating Fields of the Nephilim's self-titled "brown album" on its 25th birthday. In it, I interview some unexpected musicians who were inspired by the band and this album, including Watain, Horseback and Katatonia.
Also, earlier this month, I published a new piece with Poynter called "6 tips for reporters tracking state legal cases." Check it out!
My new book, "The Columbine Effect: How five teen pastimes got caught in the crossfire and why teens are taking them back," will be out in early December. You can find out more about the book, watch the trailer, see blurbs, and download a sample chapter at my Columbine Effect page.
I'll be holding a book launch and reading at Bird & Beckett bookstore in San Francisco on Monday, January 13, 2014, at 7 p.m. Please come!
PopMatters editor and columnist Craig Hayes recently wrote an insightful column on the darkest aspects of heavy metal -- and the ethical choices fans make to listen or not listen -- called A Very Dirty Lens: How Can We Listen to Offensive Metal?, which includes some quotes and comments from me as well as several other prominent metal writers. Click on through to read the whole thing.
Also, I wrote a guest blog over at Doula Trainings International about Have Milk, Will Travel that includes an excerpt from my essay.
As a warning, there is content in both of these links that might not be safe for work!