Drop Forged Lennon
Interview with author Sharon Richards
Interview by Ronnie

After reading Sharon Richards wonderful John Lennon inspired novel, "Drop Forged Lennon", I approached her about a possible interview. Sharon graciously consented and the following interview gives a little insight into her creative process. To me, that is the most fascinating question for artists, musicians and writers: what inspires YOU to create?

Right: the author, Sharon Richards

E.C.: First, how did the book come about? Had you been writing for some time and decided to assemble your work, or was it just a recent inspiration? What made you decide to take that jump from private writing to publishing a book?

Sharon: The book is a collection of my work from a five year period. As I read about the Beatles history I would write thoughts and commentary, mainly for my own enjoyment and reference. As I read more and more about them I realized the songs I had favored over the years were consistently created either solely or chiefly by John. That led to more books and focused study on John. I felt an identity with much of his music. I read his books "IHOW", "Spaniard" and the posthumous release "Sky Writing by Word of Mouth". I found him a fascinating paradox as a person. I was absorbed in his history. His overall struggle with self the dramatic changes in him, his untimely shortened life, inspired me to work through personal struggles I was having at the time. When I studied further into the Rishikesh period and into his solo years I began to meditate on a more frequent basis, that's when the poetry began to come through. The push I needed to publish my work actually came by way of a friend. I was sharing some of the more negative prose I had written along with a few of the inspirational poems. When I finished she suggested that I seek out a publisher. I felt they were rather specific personal poems, who would be interested in them? She remarked that she was relating to the verses as I read them and that others would too. Basically she opened my eyes to the realization that even though the words arose from personal experience they did have universal appeal. I went home and assembled selections from the five years of work and six months later DROP FORGED LENNON was available for purchase.

E.C.: Tell me how the title DROP FORGED LENNON came about and what it means to you?

Sharon: I hated the title when my husband first suggested it. We were sitting in my office in the house. I was spouting off title variations of John's books, "In My Own Write", "In My Own Opinion", "An American in the Works". Stan was sitting there holding the wrench from the cover photo in his hand, disapproving of my efforts and blurted, "drop forged John Lennon or drop forged John." My response was less than positive. I asked where he got that, he showed me the wrench- it said "drop forged". OH! I thought about it and the more we talked it over the more it grew on me- so the title became DROP FORGED LENNON. It went well with the photo and seemed "John" enough to cause delightful confusion over why we named it that way. When people ask me the title of my book I always need to repeat it, which tells me it is unexpected and different, like John- ha! Anyway, I asked Stan what drop forged meant and he said it was the process a wrench goes through to be produced. In my mind I felt that was similar to how I dropped under the spell of John's charismatic character and knew this had been forged in the furnace of love.

E.C.: Also, is there any meaning behind the cover illustration of an acoustic guitar, a wrench and a pair of granny glasses?

Sharon: Initially there was no intention. In fact the photo was quite accidental. I was working with several ideas and took the guitar, wrench and glasses, laid them as you see in the photo on the bed in my room and snapped the picture from above. Again, I didn't care for it but Stan, who's a graphic artist/photographer, LOVED the picture. He notice the end of the wrench looked like walrus teeth under the glasses, or perhaps a mustache. Again, it seemed to have many "John" qualities by mere accident.

E.C.: Was the slender novel, alternating short stories with poetry a sort of tribute to John's books?

Sharon: Yes! Absolutely! I even tried to make the page count close to his.

E.C.: Unfortunately, with Lennon's assassination, he almost reached "sainthood" among some. A lot of people overlook his very human failings, among those being how he virtually abandoned his first son Julian, etc. I know that the theme of this book was "love" and John's message of love, but have you thought of covering the subject of the "human" John for any future writings? I think that would make a very interesting subject. What do you think that John would think of his "martyrdom" if he was looking down on us today?

Sharon: I certainly have some commentary in my unpublished writings about John's penchant for being rude, nasty and particularly unkind and unceremonious to both Cynthia and Julian, especially when he divorced from her when he fell so deeply in love with Yoko. The thing about John was that he had an uncanny ability to be attractive to so many through his music. To the public he was even "god" status when he was alive- as were all the Beatles in their heyday. Like so many people, and you may know someone like this, he excelled in his field of music but failed miserably in his closest relationships with family. When he met Yoko that changed because she spoke to his artistic side more effectively than Cynthia ever did. However I don't think we can blame John 100% for the demise of his first marriage. I believe if Cynthia had grown with John in an artistic sense, been more involved like Yoko was, he may have been less likely to stray, but that's all just supposing and would certainly be interesting to expound on. I don't need to think too hard on how John would feel about his "martyrdom". He hated the notion of being idolized in life so I figure he's looking down on us now saying, "Oh my, that's all well and nice but it's a load of crap." As much as I do praise John in my prose. I hope the main message I send in my work is love in general. I know my poetry and stories reflect how much I personally feel for John, but I also wanted to share what he as a Beatle and in his solo career music promoted, love of self, others and love of life. Obviously early on he didn't touch into the more universal aspects of love but I think it's pretty clear in "The Word" he wasn't just referring only to the boy/girl type. Considering all the turmoil in today's world I thought it would be more important to reiterate the ideals of love and peace he promoted, rather than enter the world of Beatle books with a hash out of John's unsavory qualities and unsuccessful relationships.

E.C.: Speaking of which, when will your new book be out? Will the layout and theme be the same as DROP FORGED LENNON?

Sharon: My new book will be available for purchase in early December 2002. Like John's "Spaniard in the Works" and "IHOW", my second volume follows those formats. The title is "Drop Forged Lennon - the Other Side". One of the reasons we went with that was to reflect the notion this is side B of the book, a sort of "tie-in" with the old 33 1/3rd's. The "other side" also hints at more historical content, but there are still works promoting love and peace. I have more fun in this book with his early life too. Thus using the electric guitar and 60's sunglasses was a natural choice for this second volume and the wrench is used to tie book two to its predecessor. It's also something like John's of using words for double meaning, like "please, please me" You can also take it as a ying/yang concept.

E.C.: You only had one "fan fiction" piece in this book-I really liked your fictional story, which used the basic framework of "Norwegian Wood". Do you have any more stories like these up your sleeves? Similarly, what do you think of the huge amount of Beatles fan fiction that is out there on the web? Also, did you happen to catch VH1's fictional Beatles movie, "Two Of Us"?

Sharon: Of course I couldn't resist using "Norwegian Wood" as a guideline for a fictional tale. So much general enticing info about the events that inspired the song, esp. from John. (Gobbledy-gook to tell Cyn he was cheating on her.) I thought it would be fun to fill in the blanks. It was a great deal of fun. Are there more? Did John love Yoko?-lol The "Norwegian Wood" story is only one of a series I've written like that. Unlike Norwegian Wood though most of the stories are laced with "beatleisms" and peppered- lol- with historical clues. So to give the second book yet another tie to the first I continue the story- in reverse. I call this genre faction and I feel it is the newly emerging subject for the next wave of books about the Beatles. As you noted there's quite a bit out there on the net. I've read some very poor work and some excellent work. One thing is clear Beatles fans LOVE to express themselves. That's why I am promoting poetry readings at Beatle Festivals and clubs. Whenever I am invited to promote my book, I always bring the poetry reading aspect. Not for me so much as for other fans who want to read what they labor so hard in for the love of it. It's exhilarating to see how folks just open up in the comfort of a like minded audience.

I did see "Two of Us" and I recently re-watched it with a friend. Uninitiated to the full story of the Beatles she thought it was a true account! THAT's what I love about faction. Taking the base of an event and detailing, expounding and poetically licensing possibilities. As a writer it is what I enjoy the most about the process. It's a fab film and I felt it was well played.

E.C.: One thing I get from reading your book is your passion for John Lennon. I'm just curious - does your husband get jealous at your passion for John?

Sharon: If you mean jealous in the sense that I will run away to "be" with John- then no. He's marvelously tolerant. He reminds me, especially after I've been writing a faction piece, "After all Sharon the man IS dead." And I agree to a point, but we cannot overlook the fact he still influences many with the body of work he left for us to enjoy. Napoleon once said, "There is no immortality but the memory that is left in the minds of men." I think that puts it rather plain about John and why I feel he lives on. On another level though he is jealous of the tendency I have of oozing with other female John fans about how attractive we find John. Perhaps he wishes he was the object of oozing? I do remind my husband that he's the one with me day in day out and there are very few among my friend's spouses who would be so loving and accepting of an "affliction"-lol- like mine. I do have loving poetry inspired by my spouse too, if that helps ease your reader's minds-lol

E.C.: Finally, are there any other creative or artistic avenues that you want to explore in the future to express your feelings of the Beatles and especially John? You have some background in video production, why not a film about John?

Sharon: I won't deny a desire to see one of the several writing projects I am working on turn into a screenplay or stage play. Much has been done in film, to entertain, document, and discuss all that the Beatles were and their continuing impact. Sheer cost is my immediate stumbling block. I see it more as a group effort to put something together as that was how I worked in the video production field. Though writing alone is my most productive state, I'm no "Lone Ranger" when it comes to filming. I'm up for the task of writing it if there's someone out there to produce it, direct, etc. The paradox of John, the foul-mouthed drunken rebel and the lyric dreamer who imagined peace through love is possible. Hmmm could be a film in that!

Click here to read our book review of DROP FORGED LENNON

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