"Catcher in the Rye" meets "The Beatles" in "Last of the Zacharys"

Recognized as the world's first Novel with Songs, "Last of the Zacharys" tells the story of Jay Allen Zachary, a young singer-songwriter with a troubled past, who will do anything to make it in the music business, even if it means "he" must become a "she."  This unique mash-up of literature and pop music features a full-length novel, and an accompanying soundtrack of 44 original songs, which can be streamed and downloaded from the web.

About the Author

Known as "THE Songwriting Novelist" for his groundbreaking explorations into the nexus of music and literature, Morty Shallman is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Chicago, where he studied creative writing with renowned novelist Richard Stern.  After serving as lead singer and songwriter for Chicago Alt-Rockers, “Minds of Babes,” Shallman moved to Los Angeles, where he has released several critically acclaimed solo projects, including “Love’s Oblivion, a Novel in Twelve Pop Songs,” and “Last of the Zacharys, a Novel with Songs,” and his latest EP, "HALO."

About the Creative Process

As someone who loves to write songs and prose, I've been fascinated for some time with finding new and interesting ways to merge these two loves together, -- to somehow expand the art form, creating a whole that's greater than the sum of the parts. I mean, pop songs are usually a melding of words and music. Good songs tell a story. But why can't songs also be part of a larger story? And not just in the traditional "Broadway Musical" and/or "operatic" sense, but as a sort of "meta-narrative," which informs, accompanies and complements a work of narrative fiction?

After Love's Oblivion, I began work on my novel, "Last of the Zacharys," which was originally going to be a traditional, i.e., "non-musical" work of literary fiction. The protagonist, Jaz Zachary, has talent and dreams of becoming a musician – a rock star, in fact. Naturally, as I began telling his story, snippets of original song lyrics started to appear in the narrative... 


Mattie creates illusions that you'd swear are real
Weaving a web of lives so fine
The truth's revealed... 

Then it hit me – why not actually write, record and release the song that Jaz is singing to Mattie? And why not have that song be another way to experience the story? As a singer-songwriter, it seemed the natural thing to do, and a way to give potential readers more bang for their entertainment buck.
After I got the idea, I began experimenting with different ways to include songs in the narrative. Sometimes, Jaz or other artists are performing the songs, like at a talent show or a gig. Sometimes, Jaz is experiencing the songs, like when Grand Island High School Marching Band does a version of a famous pop song. Of course, it's not really a famous pop song – yet! – but rather a song a wrote and gave a home in the unique universe of my novel. Other times, the songs are used to comment on or enhance the emotional content of a scene, expressing the thoughts in a character's head or the feelings in his/her heart.

I look forward to blogging more on the different tunes, and the various ways I experimented with the use of songs in my "novel with songs." In any case, I hope you enjoy the read ––and the listen! 


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