Book Talk: *ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes, Year 2* by Susan Helene Gottfried

Disclosure: I purchased this book directly from the author, who was kind enough to personally autograph it for me.

[cover thumbnail], Paperback (ISBN 9780557096565 / 0557096561)
Fiction, 140 pages

Book description (from the author’s website): The Demo Tapes: Year 1 introduced the reading public to ShapeShifter and the two men behind this fictional band: Trevor Wolff and Mitchell Voss. The Demo Tapes: Year 2 brings you more of the short fiction that brings these people to vivid life.

Year 2 delves more deeply into love, friendships, and the inside workings of ShapeShifter. New faces have arrived as the band tours and climbs the ladder of success, but most of all, Year 2 puts you square in the lives of Mitchell and Trevor, just where you like to be.

Comments: This is Susan Helen Gottfried’s second collection of short fiction “outtakes” featuring the heavy-metal band ShapeShifter. The pieces were originally published on Susan’s blog, West of Mars: The Meet and Greet, in no particular order; the books have allowed her to satisfy reader requests to place the stories in a timeline.

I reviewed the first collection, The Demo Tapes: Year 1, last year, and said then:

Susan launched her blog as a place for “outtakes” – short scenes and sketches – involving the characters and situations in her not-yet-published novel about a rock band called ShapeShifter, Trevor’s Song. While the outtakes make fairly random appearances on the blog, Susan has assembled them in chronological narrative order here, and has written additional introductory material for each sketch, giving more context about how it fits into the overall story of ShapeShifter. This is not a novel in itself – while the stories are placed in sequence, they don’t have a plot thread tying them together – but if you haven’t met the band before, it’s a great way to do it.

There’s overlap in the chronology between the Year 1 and Year 2 collections, and they don’t have to be read in sequence. But Susan’s outtakes continue to whet my appetite for a full-length novel (or two, or three!) about the band. I’m getting glimpses of the backstory, but I want to know more about how ShapeShifter came together and how other characters came into their circle, and I’d like to see it all in context. Also, Susan has tried not to overlap the time period and events in Trevor’s Song with the shorter pieces, and I’m really getting curious about that portion of the story. Someone PLEASE find this woman a publisher!
As she did in the Year 1 collection, Susan has included an introduction to each outtake which provides a little more of the framework to the ShapeShifter story. The introductions also offer insight into her writing process and the inspirations for some of the pieces, and I found myself particularly intrigued by that this time around.
The Demo Tapes: Year 2 is a quick read – I finished it in a couple of hours. It would be an excellent choice for the TBR stacks of those participating in the next 24-Hour Read-a-thon (scheduled for April 10 – is it on your calendar yet?) – not just because it can be read quickly, but because hanging out with the band is a guaranteed good time.
Rating: 3.75/5
Challenges Counted: RYOB Challenge 2010 (2/20) , Blogging Authors Reading Project

The book is available for purchase from the publisher as a hard-copy or PDF download, in multiple e-book formats, or directly from Susan herself, who will be happy to autograph your copy too! Yes, you can read the outtakes for free on Susan’s website, but generating sales for the Demo Tapes collections will help demonstrate that readers are out there for her rockin’ fiction, and help improve the chances of Trevor’s Song eventually appearing in print.

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  1. Oh, darling. What a FABULOUS review; thank you!!

    Good news on the novel… but you'll have to stay tuned for that (seen the Facebook fan pages yet? There's one for West of Mars, one for Trevor and one for Mitchell!)

    Thank you from the bottom of my very large, sentimental heart for this great review.

  2. Susan – You're more than welcome – glad you're happy with the review! And I'm already a Facebook fan :-).

    Kathy (Bermudaonion) – Yes, it's good…just like Susan's blog and Win A Book!