RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Horacio Cotton, a.k.a. Bobby, is a 30-something-year-old man, whose life is in shambles. He's so desperate, he steals a self-help book called "Magnificent Vibration: Discover Your True Purpose." When he opens the book, he finds a 1-800-number for God, or 'Big G, little O-D" as he calls him. So, of course, he picks up the phone and dials, who wouldn't? From there, a fantastical, saucy and soul searching tale unfolds. Rick Springfield, yes, the musician Rick Springfield, is the author behind this whirlwind of a tale. You may remember Rick as Dr. Noah Drake from the soap opera "General Hospital," or maybe this song rings a bell.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JESSIE'S GIRL")
RICK SPRINGFIELD: (Singing) You know I wish that I had Jesse's girl. I wish that I had Jesse's girl. Why can't I find a woman like that?
MARTIN: Rick Springfield's debut novel is called "Magnificent Vibration." He joins me here in our studios in Washington. Thanks so much for coming in Rick.
SPRINGFIELD: I'm very glad to.
MARTIN: So, lets start off by talking a little bit about Bobby and where he is in his life, how he's gotten to this point. What happened to him that Bobby finds himself needing to steal a self-help book?
SPRINGFIELD: That's actually a part of my original life. I used to steal books. I wasn't very good at school, but I loved to read. And I didn't have enough money to buy all the books I wanted so I'd go into a secondhand bookstore, buy one, and then stack 14 under it, and walk out. And I ended up with big cardboard box in my room with like 300 books and it, and my mom is going to my dad, I know Richard can't afford this. I'm sure he's stealing them. My mom sounded like Monte Python when she gets going.
So I'd stay home from school and read and play guitar, that's all I'd do. So Bobby, this Horacio, in the story is really - he feels completely neglected by God and feels like his life is just a complete mess. He's just gone through this hellacious divorce that's detailed why that happens in the book. And out of his desperation, he just...
MARTIN: He's lost. He's a little lost.
MARTIN: So he's in a bad place, and he is looking for answers. Why did you decide to bring God into the story? Because at times he's also - he has a biting sense to his humor, he can be a little sarcastic.
SPRINGFIELD: Yeah, he kind of got snarkier and snarkier as the book goes on. But I love that God has an attitude. I think everybody gets to some point in their life when their religion doesn't fit any more. I certainly did and I was raised thinking that God punished me when I did the stupid things, but when something good happened, I should then turn around and say thank you. Even as a young boy I had a real lot of anger towards God.
MARTIN: Did you grow up going to church?
SPRINGFIELD: I was made to go to church. You know, it was an obligation. I went to church and got an ice cream at the end. I didn't - never understood it. It was the Church of England, it was all the old phrases and I didn't get it. I didn't get anything from it. But I did have a connection with God through that. So I've always been a big spiritual searcher.
MARTIN: But you still like the idea of having a 1-800 number to some divine entity?
SPRINGFIELD: Oh, yes. That would be so great.
MARTIN: We mentioned that Bobby has had a lot of trauma in his life and you have been public about your own bouts with depression, even suicidal thoughts. Something that you talked about publicly in your memoire, your first book. But I wonder how writing a novel allowed you to engage in that subject, address that personal side of your life in a different way?
SPRINGFIELD: Well, again, each character I think comes from a point of truth. And Bobby is probably the closest person in the book to me. And I know all those feelings really well - the suicidal thing in life - feeling like life is over, but I want to stress it's a humorous book. It's not a dark, depressing book.
MARTIN: It's not just gloom and doom.
SPRINGFIELD: I would just put in parts that felt right.
MARTIN: Bobby's not alone, he's got a couple of cohorts in this book. Alice, a former nun, and a guy named Lexington Vargas. They've all come across copies of "Magnificent Vibration," which has brought them together. And we don't want to give too much away about the plot, but I do want to talk about Loch Ness because it's just kind of a fantastical destination for the three of these folks to end up in. Why there? Why Scotland? Why Loch Ness?
SPRINGFIELD: That just happened. I just started writing a section about this guy encountering this creature. When I wrote it, I had no idea how this was going to fit into the story. So it just eventually did, and that part of me is true with Bobby that I love the whole monster thing. And I camped by Loch Ness when I was a kid.
MARTIN: Oh, you did?
SPRINGFIELD: We lived in England when I was a kid and we camped everywhere and one of the weeks we were by Loch Ness and it always stuck with me. So it just kind of happened. I really can't explain why, it just kind of just came out, you know, that way.
MARTIN: It seems as if the book just - you let yourself just go, just sit and let yourself imagination run wild. Because it is fantastical and it's not linear and it's not predictable. Was it fun for you? Or was it work to do this?
SPRINGFIELD: No, it was a lot of fun, but it was also scary at one point going, oh my God, where does all this culminate - in what? It's the way I write songs, the same way, I just start off with the first line. So...
MARTIN: Which is easier - songwriting or fiction writing?
SPRINGFIELD: Well, they both have their highs and lows, song writing certainly much shorter.
MARTIN: Yeah, I would think that just by the nature of that...
SPRINGFIELD: And you don't need an editor because, you know, you can handle the editing on 200 words.
MARTIN: Before I let you go I have to ask you if you've ever purchased or stolen a self-help book?
SPRINGFIELD: I have purchased many. I may have stolen one or two.
MARTIN: Rick Springfield. His debut novel is called "Magnificent Vibration." He joined us in our studios here in Washington. Rick, thanks so much for coming in.
SPRINGFIELD: Yeah, thanks a lot.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS")
SPRINGFIELD: (Singing) When you were just a young girl and still in school, how come you never learned the golden rule. Don't talk to strange men, don't be a fool. I'm hearing stories, I don't think that's cool. Why don't you tell me someone isn't loving you...
MARTIN: This is weekend addition from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.