I Think I Love You: Q&A with Allison Pearson
The Not-So-Loving Side
I loved how the Bill character opened a door to explore the other not-so-loving side of the David Cassidy phenomenon.
I knew I wanted to write about the obsessive fandom side of it. Petra was going to be obsessed with David in a very heartfelt way, so I needed another way to introduce some other perspective on this teen crush, a comic reflection on these very idealistic teen girls. I went to a David Cassidy and The Osmonds reunion concert with my friend Tim, a rock critic. And of course, he was kind of appalled by the idea of going to see these '70s heartthrobs in a stadium with a bunch of screaming women, all having a great time. But as he sat next to me, carefully writing in his notebook, I suddenly thought, "Oh, yes. There would have been some boy there watching all of these girls go crazy."
I also starting bidding for lots of memorabilia on eBay and got these David Cassidy magazines, some of the very ones I had -- they were like sacred texts, I knew the photographs like they were from a family album. As I was reading them it occurred to me that, of course, they were put together by a team of journalists and not written by David Cassidy in the San Fernando Valley. So that became Bill -- this guy who wants to be a real rock journalist but he's got this job at The Essential David Cassidy Magazine which he's completely mortified by, but also has him kind of intrigued by the power of it all.
Music plays a role in the novel even beyond David Cassidy's songs -- Petra is a cellist who goes on to have a career in music therapy.
I thought that Petra would have a mother that was very disapproving of her pop star crush, and thought she'd probably be keen on classical music, so I made Petra a cellist. I saw a picture of English cellist Natalie Clein, and she was exactly like I imagined Petra -- dark, intense, very pretty, and very tiny. Through a mutual friend, I sent her an e-mail and said "Dear Natalie, please do not be alarmed, but you appear to be the heroine of my new novel." She let me come to see her give a master class to some kids, and she's just extraordinary. Petra's cello lesson in the book is one of the things I'm most proud of having written.
And then I thought, what would this wonderful, sensitive, slightly damaged girl grow up to be? I thought she probably wouldn't have had the confidence to become a soloist, but I'd become interested in the idea of music therapy. I took a weekend course on it in London, and it's such an amazing thing. It's used with kids who are locked into all kinds of problems, from social issues to congenital conditions, and it's miraculous what music can do. I think this is at the heart of the book -- music can rhyme and music can solve, and the book came to be a celebration of that.