An anxious American youth John Sterling is living on the edge when he falls in love with a woman who is the first person he can trust. But when he loses her to a tragic mishap, he reverts to the two main crutches of his life: drugs and music. In a grasping tale of anxiety, passion, loss, and return to life, Don Eminizer’s book Midnight in America (Litmocracy Publications, 2007) creates a quasi-fictional hero whose half-lived dreams inspires some of the most touching music of the musical band called 99 Burning. John Sterling's story is such that few readers will be left untouched by its energy. Thanks to Don, he took time to speak with me about his book and the character that continues to live in his band’s music.
Ernest: Don, I’d like to know a little about you, John Sterling, and briefly about John’s death.
Don: John is a quasi-fictional character based on my early years. I was a very troubled youth. Much of the band activity, relationships and partying is factual, or my recollection of it, with tweaked names. The Chris character is fiction. I was in a band and we signed a deal with "Serpentine Records" and I was so troubled I threw all that away. When I got half way through writing the book, I decided to fictionalize what would have happened if we had made it. I killed John at 25 because that was when I threw away my shot with my band, "The Mirror Image." We have reformed because of this book and are called "99 Burning." We recorded a soundtrack for Midnight in America, so you can get a book and the CD full of songs in the book. "She's My Addiction," "Wasted," "Lonely Skies," etc. are all real songs.
Ernest: What sparked your interest in writing about John’s life?
Don: I reached a point where I wanted to get some things off of my chest and writing that led to this story. I loved and hated things about that lifestyle. John was easy enough to relate to, I just made him a little larger than life, but I used to do stupid crazy things. Surf cars drunk at 70 MPH, fall off buildings. I loved to climb.
Ernest: And you chose to tell the story in John’s voice?
Don: John's voice and mine are remarkably similar at that age. The rest I had to imagine or relate.
Ernest: The beginning of John’s story, as scribed in Midnight in America, presents him as a young man without home or family but with an ocean to anxious energy that is pushing against his mind to burst, right?
Don: Absolutely. John is what I call an American orphan, like most from my generation. A generation called the me generation should not spawn, but it did, in droves, and so there were many abandonments and divorces. Me, John, most people my age have a detachment when it comes to relating or feeling. That fueled John; chased him; tormented him. Here's this beautiful place with all these beautiful people and I'll never know any of them wholly or intimately because I can't trust they won't abandon me. My parents did. That kind of thing!
Ernest: Before meeting Chris, what was John’s big dream? A career in music?
Don: John's only dream before and after Chris was escape. Everything else was a diversion, hence his detachment and rebellion from success.
Ernest: After falling for Chris, John got more in control over drugs but still wasn’t done with them entirely. Did he revert to drugs after losing Chris to that accident?
Don: With a passion and two fists. Chris became his religion and drugs his communion, music his confessional.
Ernest: Midnight in America tells about the survival of John’s passion after the trauma of losing Chris. Did his musical spirit or performance change in any significant way after that mishap?
Don: He was finally able to feel. The one person he grew to trust fully, the one person he related to of his own volition was taken from him. He poured that passion into his music. Ironically he finally became the soulful musician that he always wanted to be.
Ernest: Your book also mentions some rumors of John’s suicide. What were they and how were they answered?
Don: Well, that's speculation. John climbed a big wall during a large concert. He was intoxicated, slipped and fell. The facts and circumstances are there, the reader must decide what happened for themselves. It's kind of like "Did Courtney kill Kurt." We'll never concretely know!
Ernest: And what became of the band The Shattered Mirror after John’s death?
Don: Jared and Drew retired somewhat. Kevin continued playing and has done well.
Ernest: John’s creative spirit and passion for art lives past him, inspiring Midnight in America and some good rock music. How do you compare art and the artist in the context of immortality? Does art makes an artist immortal or is it the other way around?
Don: John felt that a blazing star or comet would burn a scar into the canvass of life, like a tattoo on eternity. Nietszche believes the art and the thought can make man immortal. The King is dead, long live the King. I believe man is mortal but many things he does can have lasting effects, his children, his art, his teachings, his charity, his ability to stand up for something that is wrong or unjust, his ability to point out wrongs. Many things.
Ernest: Thank you very much, Don, for sharing your thoughts.