1. Please introduce yourself so that the readers will get to know you better.
Hi, my name is Caroline Madden. I am a film critic who has written for IndieWire, Reverse Shot, and Screen Queens. I work at Passion River Films and Video Librarian. I am also the Managing Editor of BOSS: The Biannual Online-Journal of Springsteen Studies. Before I became a writer, I studied acting at Shenandoah Conservatory. After doing an internship in educational theatre, I decided to get my Masters in Cinema Studies at Savannah College of Art and Design where I set my sights on being a writer and working in the film industry. I was born and raised in New Jersey (just like Bruce!) where I currently live with my fiancé and puppy. Bruce Springsteen has been a big part of my life ever since I was 10 years old!
2. How do you come up with the title and cover of your book “Springsteen as Soundtrack”?
It just came to me suddenly one day. I felt it simply encapsulated exactly the kind of questions I wanted to ask my readers: What does it mean when Springsteen’s music functions as a soundtrack? How does it change the visuals or narrative of a film? How does his music illuminate the story we see on screen? I did not design the cover of my book, which is taken from a scene in Philadelphia with Tom Hanks that I discuss. I love the bold orange color, it really stands out on a bookshelf.
3. Do you write while listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this book?
Of course I would have to listen and analyze Bruce’s songs as part of my research, but while I was doing actual writing I listened to film scores from Interstellar, Atonement, The Lord of the Rings, and more. The pure instrumentals help me concentrate and stop my mind from wandering, which is sometimes hard to do when writing in silence or listening to music with lyrics. While doing some of the more tedious legwork such as citations or the bibliography, I listened to my usual playlist of Bruce Springsteen, classic rock, and Broadway musicals.
4. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your book?
I learned a lot about Bruce’s early musical career from the early 1970s. Many of the songs I listened to I had never heard before, and I was amazed to see they had particular themes that still endured in his music today.
5. How long did it take you to write your book?
It took me about two years to write. I did research for a few months and the rest of the time was writing and editing. However, my research was constantly evolving because at the time, Springsteen on Broadway was just premiering. That production would go on to shape my interpretation of Springsteen’s canon and legacy.
6. Did you enjoy writing the book? Readers would love to know more about your writing journey.
Writing my book was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever done. It was often difficult to balance a professional and social life while writing. At the time, I was completing internships and working in New York City. A lot of times I had to sacrifice socializing or attending events because I had to stay home, write, and meet my deadline.
7. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
I’m currently in the research phase for my second book which surveys the representation of virginity in the American teen film from the 1980s to the present. The coming-of-age film is quite possibly my favorite genre, and I’ve always been fascinated by the period of adolescence. I’m very excited to be synthesizing research on sex education, feminism, and youth development which have always been interests of mine. My book will reveal how films are moving towards more positive representations of teenage and female sexuality.
8. Any favorite writers that inspired you to write?
A few years ago, I was selected to be a part of the Critics Academy at Film at Lincoln center. I got to work with some phenomenal film critics such as Michael Koresky and Devika Girish who made me think about writing and cinema in a completely new way. My professors at SCAD, Drs. Tracy Cox-Stanton and Chad Newsom inspired me daily and helped me hone my skills. Without them I would not have written my book!
9. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I have a very specific way of writing. Since I am a morning person, I tend to do my best writing then. I can usually only write for a few hours a day before running out of steam. I either have to wait until the next day or the late evening to return to what I’m working on with fresh eyes. I first begin with an extremely rudimentary outline and brain dump. If you saw what my very first draft looked like, you would think a little kid wrote it. Like an abstract painting, it’s very rudimentary and doesn’t even make much sense. Then, like a sculptor, I slowly chisel away to form something more coherent with each draft. My favorite part is editing, because the bulk of what I want to say is already there, I just need to figure out how I can say it better.
10. Lastly, do you want to give any advice to someone wanting to write and publish a book?
My advice would be to really know what sets your book apart from everyone else, because that is what publishers are going to be looking for the most, aside from the quality of the content. Why does your book need to be on bookshelves? In the case of academia, what are you discovering that is new? Fortunately for me, it was simple—there was no major book about Bruce Springsteen and film available.
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