Blood on the Tracks, Novel by Tom Grasty

Entertainment Industry Veteran Writes a Rock Mystery

Finds Inspiration for Debut Novel in a Bob Dylan Song

January 28, 2008

By Pam McLaren

Sometimes the words to a song are so powerful they stick in your mind, pushing thoughts in new directions.

For Tom Grasty, a lecturer in radio-TV-film, Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" was just such a song--one that ultimately became the inspiration for a novel by the same name.

A murder mystery in a rock context, Grasty's debut novel “Blood on the Tracks” was published last November by iUniverse.

Having served as head of development for VH1, head of West Coast operations for a production company and senior story analyst at DreamWorks and HBO Pictures, Grasty knows the terrain well. He has worked with such artists as Paul McCartney, Aerosmith and Neil Young, and produced documentary vignettes honoring the inductees at the Recording Academy honors gala in New York City.

This spring, Grasty is teaching courses in children’s TV and he is currently in charge of development for music event producer for Blaze TV.

Q. What prompted you to try your hand at a novel? And why this subject?
A. This is actually my second novel. I simply couldn't get the first one off the ground. Let me clarify that. I couldn't get anyone to buy it. “Blood on the Tracks” was born out of the experience of trying to sell the first. The publishers kept telling me they wanted something with a 'hook.' Something that had a build-in audience.

Well, a book in which a rock superstar is killed and all the suspects are characters from his songs — that's a strong hook. And the fact the murdered rock star is a thinly-veiled Bob Dylan — well, there's your audience.

Q. How did you go about writing the novel?
A. Fifteen hundred words every day for three months ... then a year of revision. Most of the novel was 'written' in the car coming down to Fullerton to teach. That's where I would write the scenes, the dialogue. Then the next day, I'd just transcribe what I'd come up with the previous day.

Of course, I was working off an outline. For my past story structure students out there, yes, even I use an outline. I wasn't just trying to make your life miserable. And my outline didn't change that much. As for ambiance, the radio was always going. Always jazz. Mostly John Coltrane. And while I can't play the saxophone — I'm not even sure I'd know which end to blow through — at this point, I know every note of every Coltrane solo.

Q. What was the hardest part of writing the novel?
A. Knowing that I can write longer than my dog can hold her bladder. I hate interruptions.

Q. Any plans for another novel? A new creative endeavor?
A. I have the next novel completed outlined. I've even written about 200 pages. But that goes on hold while I promote this one.

For a preview of the book and more information about Tom Grasty, go to for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the novel.

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