Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teen Book Scene: The Sharp Time Playlist


Introducing the author of The Sharp Time, Mary O' Connell...


Mary O'Connell is a graduate of the University of Kansas and the Iowa's Writer's Workshop. Her stories have been published in literary magazines including The Sun and Mid-American Review. She teaches at the Lawrence Arts Center and lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with her husband and two children.


Onto the playlist...

I listened to The Clash obsessively while I was writing The Sharp Time. My main character’s mother was a Clash fanatic, who just so happened to name her daughter after the seminal Clash album Sandinista! My favorite song off this album,” The Street Parade”, has lyrics that were particularly meaningful and resonant to me as I was writing:

When I was waiting for your phone call
The one that never came
Like a man about to burst
I was dying of thirst

Though I will never fade
Or get lost in this daze
Though I will disappear
Into the street parade

It's not too hard to cry
In these crying times
I'll take a broken heart
And take it home in parts
But I will never fade

I was in this place
By the first church of the city
I saw tears on the face
The face of a visionary

Though I will disappear
To join the street parade
Disappear and fade
Into the street parade

I tried my best to bring a bit of the Clash—their punk rock aesthetic juxtaposed with Joe Strummer’s tender lyrics—to The Sharp Time. Here are some other songs I was listening to while I wrote.

Redemption Song—Bob Marley
Johnny Appleseed—Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
Ring of Fire—Johnny Cash
Fight the Power—Public Enemy
Boys Don’t Cry—The Cure
Supernatural Superserious-- REM
Something Beautiful—Sinead O’Connor
William, It Was Really Nothing—The Smiths
The Man In the Corner Shop—The Jam
Children Go Where I send you—Nina Simone

There was something beautiful, something hopeful, in each of these songs that inspired me or pushed me forward when I was stuck in a scene. The iPod is my cure for Writer’s Block.

Rock on, and thanks so much for hosting me!



Sandinista Jones is a high school senior with a punk rock name and a broken heart. The death of her single mother has left Sandinista alone in the world, subject to the random vulnerability of everyday life. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge.

Still, in the midst of her crisis, she gets a job at The Pale Circus, a funky vintage clothing shop, and finds friendship and camaraderie with her coworker, a boy struggling with his own secrets.

Even as Sandinista sees the failures of those with power and authority, she's offered the chance to survive through the redemptive power of friendship. Now she must choose between faith and forgiveness or violence and vengeance.

Thanks to Mary and Teen Book Scene!

LiLi