In her new novel, Wonderland, Stacey D’Erasmo gives readers a peek into the life of Anna Brundage, a washed-up rocker who’s giving life in the spotlight one last chance. And while most of the work D’Erasmo had to do creating Anna involved sitting at her desk and writing, some of it took her to some very unexpected places. Like on a 2010 Eastern European tour with the rock bank Scissor Sisters.
“I was actually looking for a smaller band or performer to go on tour with, but what I found when I started trying to get in touch with people—I tried Grizzly Bear and Glen Hansard—but none of them were comfortable with having me travel with them,” D’Erasmo says.
Luckily she ran into Scissor Sisters front man Jake Shears (pictured right) at a party and, when she mentioned her idea, he was eager to have the writer tag along on the band’s summer outing. And while D’Erasmo’s experience was a bit more luxurious than that of her character, she still managed to get a first-hand look at life on the road.
“I found myself in the middle of a luxurious tour with roadies, nice buses with movie screens on them; I don’t think I carried a suitcase the entire time I was with them,” she says. “It was fantastic and was definitely like going through the looking glass into another world.”
The tour wound through Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia and other places D’Erasmo might never have otherwise visited, but one stop in particular was especially influential for her writing.
“There’s a pivotal part of my book that takes place in Berlin and we got to spend a few days there, which was really wonderful,” she explains. “When we were there, it was hotter than hell. It was absolutely suffocating. We got there after driving all night from Vienna, and I woke up that morning on the bus literally in a parking lot where stray dogs were picking through trash because we were waiting for our hotel to open up.”
What was most important for D’Erasmo and her research for Wonderland, however, wasn’t the sort of experience you might expect going on tour with a rock band might provide.
“The cliché is sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and Scissor Sisters is a party band,” she says. “One would expect it to be a wild night every night, but I have to say life off-stage was not like that. Honestly, the band would be on their Kindles reading and their personal trainer came with them. Most of us can imagine what it would be like to party to excess. What we don’t know is the stranger part of being on tour, and that’s what I wanted to find out about.”
Wonderland is available May 6.