Marshall Welch recently retired from a 30-year career in higher education where his writing was focused on scholarly publications. Prior to his academic career, he was a professional musician, breakfast chef, and gravedigger. He now lives in the Portland, Oregon area where he spends his time writing fiction. His latest novel, Back Story, includes an innovative feature of embedded QR codes linked to YouTube videos that allows original songs that are part of the story to come to life.
An old coffee table picture book of Santa Barbara plays an unexpected role in bringing together three souls for Thanksgiving. Joey Michaels is a washed-up singer/songwriter and manager who is hanging on to his career and past as it spirals away. Laurel Burgess is a wry and insightful college intern who endears herself to Joey through a string of carefully planned outings designed to help him re-enter the world he struggles to understand. Gale Rivers, a bohemian waitress who has reinvented herself in Alaska, finally realizes her life-long dream to visit the beauty of Santa Barbara only to have it become a nightmare. Their lives intersect during an impromptu Thanksgiving meal together that reveals secrets from the past and present that ultimately sends each of them running away in different directions to rebuild their lives. In the process, Joey captures the experience in songs that are eventually recorded and released by an up and coming singer, Bessie James. Years later, two seemingly random radio broadcasts bouncing off the ionosphere provide the balm to heal their wounds and the courage to carry on. Told through a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards, Back Story is truly the backstory of three people exploring who they are and who they hope to be. A unique feature of the book is embedded QR codes the reader can scan with their smart phones to hear original songs that are part of the story. Aimee Altamirano is the voice of Bessie James in the novel.
Sample Back Story
What better way to learn about life than working in a cemetery? Martin Stevenson alludes to the "lost year" he has left behind when he stumbles into employment as a grounds-keeper at a cemetery in the middle of Kansas. There, he secretly takes up permanent residence camping in an obscure corner of the cemetery. Martin serves as a muse as the reader learns the hard lessons of life from the stories and experiences told by his quirky co-workers. Martin comes to find some of the answers to his questions about life through his experiences framed by death.