It’s intriguing when someone already successful in one creative area steps into another one and spreads her wings. Folk-music legend Suzzy Roche has done just that. Coming out of a 30+ -year-long career as singer/songwriter with the Roches, she has written a novel titled Wayward Saints and will launch her book at the Colony Café in Woodstock on Saturday, February 18 at 4 p.m., hosted by the Golden Notebook.
Along with her sisters Maggie and Terre, Roche is a founding member of the beloved singing group, whose debut recording was named Album of the Year by The New York Times in 1979. Performing original works, as well as covering a variety of songs that includes everything from “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane” to “The Hallelujah Chorus,” they have appeared on stages nationwide, including Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
In Wayward Saints, Roche has made use of her intimate knowledge of the music industry, maintaining that the story is not autobiographical. Her main character, Mary Saint, is “the rule-breaking, troubled former lead singer of the almost-famous band Sliced Ham, who has pretty much given up on music after the trauma of her fellow band-member and lover Garbagio’s death seven years earlier. Instead, with the help of her best friend Thaddeus, she is trying to piece her life together while making mochaccinos in San Francisco. Meanwhile, back in her hometown of Swallow, New York, her mother, Jean Saint, struggles with her own ghosts.”
With humor and poignancy, Roche invents a tale of love and redemption, while proving her imaginative skills on wildly original yet believable characters. “I’ve always loved working with characters and realized how, through them, you can express ideas,” she said. “Even when I perform music onstage, I think of myself as a character. I had been writing stories for years, but didn’t really have the nerve to try to write a novel. I took a short story I had written and set about expanding it.”
“Constructing a sentence is very similar to constructing a melody,” she added. “It’s trial and error, attention to detail, a good deal of luck and some whimsy. I consider myself a beginner as both a novelist and a musician. These are lifelong pursuits. There is no end to what I have to learn, and practice is the only way I know how.”
As a companion to the novel, Roche wrote “Song for Wayward Saints,” sung as a duet with her daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche. A video of this features photographs by Andrew Cohen and can be viewed at www.roches.com/suzzy/index.html. Living in New York City, Roche also has a children’s book due to be released in 2013. Wayward Saints is her first novel.
This Saturday, February 18 at 4 p.m., Roche will be read from and sign copies of her book, sing and chat with the audience. This event is free and open to all. The Colony Café is located at 22 Rock City Road in Woodstock.