Céline Keating Taps Musical Passion For Second Novel - 27 East

Arts & Living

Arts & Living / 1346527

Céline Keating Taps Musical Passion For Second Novel

icon 3 Photos

author on Apr 21, 2015

Novelist Céline Keating knows a bit about the potency of music—from her 15 years playing guitar, her experience as a music critic and, not too long ago, what she describes as a “music train,” traveling across Canada with fanatic groupies and the bands they loved.“The bands weren’t huge,” she recalled last week, “but it was so interesting to observe the dynamics between them and their fans.”

It was these memories she kept in mind while writing the first draft of what would become her second novel, “Play For Me,” released on Tuesday by She Writes Press. She finished it quickly—in just four months, to be exact—only then allowing herself to revise, a process that took years, she said, between her homes on the Upper West Side and Montauk.

Not originally an East Ender, the author grew up in a working-class, strictly Catholic, politically liberal family of Irish and French-Canadian descent. Her world was that of “brick and concrete,” as she calls it—otherwise known as Bellerose, Queens. A young girl craving nature, she would sneak onto the wooded grounds of the Hillside State Hospital, where she would read, observe and daydream. When her father died when she was 10 years old, writing morphed into escapism. By age 11, she had penned her first novel.

Though it never reached a publishing house, her 2013 authorial debut, “Layla,” did. The title character’s tale begins during the 1960s anti-Vietnam movement, her parents active participants, and continues through 2005. By then, her mother has died, leaving behind an envelope of puzzling letters and instructions for a cross-country journey.

“‘Layla’ came out of my fascination with my own life in the late ’60s and early ’70s—a profound time in my life that was very transformative,” Ms. Keating said. “I think I always had that book in the back of my mind.”

Over the course of the novel, Layla discovers clues to the father she never knew, truths about her mother and realizations about herself. “It’s about how her values develop, how one develops a world view and the legacy that activism in the ’60s has on one’s children,” Ms. Keating explained, “and how it affected parent-child relationships.”

While “Layla” could be considered a mystery of sorts, “Play For Me” is more transparent—at least on the surface. It follows Lily Moore, who risks her marriage and comfortable life on the Upper West Side to join musicians on tour and make a film about them, igniting her long-buried capacity for passion, authenticity and creativity.

According to Ms. Keating, the book is about “the power of music in our lives … an exploration of fan-dom. I was drawn to the question of how people become so passionate about musicians, and I think it’s because of how potent music can be.”

Initially, the idea for the book was sparked by a conversation with Ms. Keating’s sister, who was worried about how empty her home would feel once her twin daughters left home for college. She had put her family and career first, and had forgotten, in a way, about her own passions. On the other hand, Ms. Keating had just picked up classical guitar.

“So, the novel is a bit about second chances, too,” she said.

Already at work on her next book—which is set on the East End—Ms. Keating is also collaborating with fellow writer Ed Johann, who runs the Montauk Writers Group, on an anthology of poetry, prose and fiction submitted by writers inspired by Montauk. She has contributed herself, as she considers the East End her writing studio.

Her process includes a walk on the beach—she likes how the movement jogs her creative juices, she said—followed by a cup of coffee before getting to work.

“We just knew, even way back then, we wanted to be at the beach,” she said of herself and her husband, Mark Levy, whose first date was nearly 30 years ago at Hither Hills State Park. “My husband is now retired and I write, and we just feel so lucky.”

Céline Keating will read from her new book, “Play For Me,” on Sunday, May 3, at 11 a.m. at Harbor Books in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit celinekeating.com.

You May Also Like:

Women And Their Art

In “The Curator’s View,” an illustrated talk at the Parrish Art Museum on Friday, February ... 22 Feb 2020 by Staff Writer

Soul Spectacular Courtesy Of The HooDoo Loungers

The HooDoo Loungers have been lauded as the go-to party band of the East End. ... by Staff Writer

Artistic Residents Welcome

The Watermill Center is now accepting applications for its 2021 Artist Residency Program. The program ... 20 Feb 2020 by Staff Writer

Inside The World Of Booksellers

Antiquarian booksellers are part scholar, part detective and part businessperson, and their personalities and knowledge ... 18 Feb 2020 by Staff Writer

Entries Welcome For Guild Hall’s Annual Members Art Show

For 82 years Guild Hall has reserved space in its exhibition schedule for the annual ... by Staff Writer

East Hampton Gallerist To Shut Her Doors

Janet Lehr has announced she will be closing her East Hampton gallery, Janet Lehr Fine ... by Staff Writer

Monsters Run Amok In ‘Matinee,’ A Cold War-Era Tribute

In the 1993 film “Matinee,” director Joe Dante pays homage to William Castle, the master ... by Staff Writer

Finding The Many Layers Of Black History

“Black art has always existed. It just hasn’t been looked for in the right places.” ... by Michelle Trauring

Do Another Trick, Grandpa!

Guaranteed to make grandparenting even more fun, Allan Zola Kronzek’s book “Grandpa Magic” is sure ... 17 Feb 2020 by Staff Writer

Dance Troupe Revisits The Tragic Story Of Four Little Girls

It’s written on his face. It moves through his chest, his arms, his legs. It ... by Michelle Trauring

Welcome to our new website!

To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.

We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.

Start the Tour
Landscape view not supported