Bela Koe-Krompecher’s new nonfiction book, Love, Death and Photosynthesis, explores the lives of friend in the Midwest independent rock scene in the late ’80s and ’90s. It acts as a story of friendship, death, and ultimately, survival.
While the book is coming to independent book stores on August 13 and is available for preorder now, New Noise caught up with Koe-Krompecher to chat more about the writing process. As a special bonus, the author has curated a playlist of songs straight from the book and music that inspired the story.
How did these Spotify playlist songs inspire the book and your writing?
Music was something I discovered at an early age; some of my earliest memories involve listening to Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie records on the floor and then, discovering Stevie Wonder, Cheap Trick, The Beatles in the 3rd, 4th grade sort of set me on a path where music was the balm to my life in broken home and moving a lot.
I could always count on music. When I wrote the book, these were the songs and artists that made a marked emotional impression on my life; these are songs that I have listened to repeatedly, and I wanted to provide an opportunity for the reader to experience the soundtrack and emotional touchstones of my life.
What was the process like for writing this book, and why was it important to you?
The book was written over a period of years; while writing the book, I finished my Masters degree and have worked as a social worker; some of this informs the book. I wrote the book as a way to make sense of my life and the people I care about. With Jenny, her story is not only tragic, but it was also a joy to know her—I hope that comes across, but her plight is also one of failed systems, of living with the stigma of being a woman with a severe mental illness and addiction—she didn’t have to be homeless but the system failed her—I wanted to tell her story because, for the most part women’s stories are forgotten—even those in music.
With Jerry, he was such a great force in my life for the period I knew him until he died, and I also have dealt with my own battles of addiction and depression but have tried to deal with it through humor and music.
What do you hope readers take away from the book?
My desire is that they feel something from it, and find it relatable in their own lives. Perhaps as a story of recovery but also get some of the humor of living life, in some ways much of our lives are tragic, but it is also filled beauty—I felt it was important to tell their stories more than myself. I hope that people not see me so much as a viewer in their lives but also as a participant.
Do you have any other upcoming projects you want to announce or highlight?
I am writing, but I don’t know what is going to come of it—it is mostly fiction, although I am still writing, and much of my everyday existence is chronicled on my blog, which deals with living and being a parent.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Enjoy the moments you have; listen to music, and make people laugh—there is nothing better than making someone smile.
Check out the playlist, with songs hand-picked by Bela Koe-Krompecher, here:
Watch the book trailer video for Love, Death and Photosynthesis here:
For more from Bela Koe-Krompecher, check out his official website.
Photo by Kim Rottmayer