by Randy Cordova)
Rick Springfield knows the news could be bad. The singer-songwriter behind '80s fave "Jessie's Girl" and the one-time "General Hospital" star has written his first novel, a trippy affair called "Magnificent Vibration." So far, word on the book is extremely good, which surprises even him.
"Guys love to make fun of guys like me, guys with a couple of hit records who have a book out," says Springfield, who actually has nine Top 20 hits under his belt. "But we were all staggered when Kirkus and Booklist wrote good reviews, so now we're very excited."
The book, which arrives Tuesday, May 6, is hardly conventional. It involves a man named Bobby who connects with God via an 800 number. The Loch Ness monster plays a role, and intermittent illustrations (also by Springfield) fill the pages.
"It's totally out there, which is part of the fun," Springfield says. "I'm writing a sequel now that is even further out there. You have to draw someone in so they can suspend disbelief. After all, they found the Ark of the Covenant in 'Indiana Jones' in Egypt."
The idea of Springfield, 64, writing fiction isn't as odd as it might seem. He says the only good grades he got while growing up in Australia came for his essays: "My focus was on that until music took over."
Four years ago, he published a memoir, "Late, Late at Night." Rather than the typical celebrity ghost-written affair, it's a candid, often unflattering look at his life and his battle with depression, which he dubs "The Darkness."
"I tried with a ghost writer at first, because that was the way I assumed it should be done," he says. "But after I read the first chapter this person did, I realized this could describe the beginnings of any musician. I had already 30,000 words myself on my own, and my publisher said 'You've got a great voice.' "
The book became a best-seller, which led publisher Touchstone to push him for a second book.
"They said 'You should be writing fiction with your voice' and that was something I always wanted to do," he says. "I started playing around with ideas, and it just sort of grew."
He admits he is untrained when it comes to creating a book, which he wrote over a four-month period.
"Writing classes say you should have an arc and a beginning and an end," he says. "I don't do that with songs. I just take off with the song and see where it goes."
Fiction works the same for Springfield. He didn't outline and didn't know how the book would wrap up.
"It really wrote itself," he says. "I didn't have a start and a finish. I had some beliefs of how we're damaging the earth and we're really being bad stewards (and I wanted to get that in there)."
As for the subject of speaking with God, that's something he's often pondered.
"I'm a big God lover," he says. "I remember reading once that we are the gods of dogs. We feed them, we create a life for them and we watch over them. But they get hugs from God and we don't, and I often wonder how great that would be to get a pat on the head from God and know everything is OK."
Something that won't be OK for fans of his music: If his career as an author takes off, he's not averse to the thought of being known primarily as a writer.
"I love writing," he says. "It's something I can do on my own. I don't need an audience. I can sit and do it by myself. Obviously you need people to get on board; every creator wants their stuff to be heard. But (unlike music) I don't need someone to pay me and say, 'Yeah, that's good.' "
Rick Springfield: 7 and 8 p.m. Friday, May 16. Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. Ticket free with book purchase ($24.99). 480-730-0205, changinghands.com.
Our pick: Each month, The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com pick one title, fiction or non-fiction, that we think will entertain and shed light on who we are or where we've been.
Selection for May: "Magnificent Vibration," by Rick Springfield (Touchstone, $24.99).
Why we picked it: Springfield's outrageous, imaginative tale will appeal to fans of Douglas Adams. A strange one, but one with heart.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-444-8849. Twitter.com/randy_cordova.