An Interview with Julie Blattberg,author of Backstage with Beth and Trina

Not Beth and Trina. That’s illustrator Wendi Koontz on the left, and author Julie Blattberg on the right.

First, I promised not to mention any details of the backstage "experiences" author Julie Blattberg may or may not have had with Vanilla Ice, David Lee Roth, Jon Bon Jovi, and Madonna.

Now that that’s out of the way, I can let you know about Julie’s very cool new book, Backstage with Beth and Trina (illustrated by Wendi Koontz). It’s a colorful, sexy adventure story about two rocker chicks who are determined to get backstage and, well, party with the band. But this book goes beyond the visual and ventures into the realm of scents. How does it transcend the normal confines of the picture book? By reaching back to the tomes of our youth. That’s right: Backstage with Beth and Trina is a scratch-and-sniff adventure. But the scents in this book go way beyond strawberry and banana — we’re talking beer, cigarettes, leather and latex. Beth and Trina are rocker chicks, after all. I interviewed Julie about the new book. What follows are her on-the-record responses.

How did you come up with this idea? When did the scratch-and-sniff element come into play?

I’d been working for a publisher of children’s books for a few years, and it occurred to me how unfair it was that kids have all of these different books with fun formats — scratch-and-sniff, lift-the-flap, glow-in-the-dark, and so on. I thought about existing formats and wondered what could be done for grown-ups. Around the same time, I was photographing a lot of rock bands and concerts, and thought I could do something cool with music. The brainstorming led to the characters, which led to the rock club setting, and the rest, as they say, is history. Rock shows are full of…interesting smells…

How much testing was done to get the smells just right? Any misfires that didn’t make it into print (and scent)?

My favorite part of the process of having this book published was a meeting requested by my editor: "Can you come downtown this week? The swatches are in." The two of us sat in her office scratching and sniffing scent samples, suppressing giggles when staff walking by overheard phrases like, "This doesn’t really smell enough like vomit," and "I know what we can use for the condom!"

The one aroma that we couldn’t quite get was Jack Daniel’s. But everyone knows what that smells like anyway, right?

Are you Beth, or Trina?

What do you think?

How old were you when you first tried to get backstage?

My first success story: High school. INXS. Jones Beach, NY. A friend of mine was infatuated with Michael Hutchence (R.I.P.) and HAD to get backstage. Despite our best efforts to sweet-talk security, it was time to give up hope…until an angry guy stormed out of the backstage door, due to a "situation" we overheard. He saw three forlorn-looking girls on the sidelines and did the right thing: He gave us the backstage passes that he and his friends could no longer use. We got backstage, had underage drinks with the band, and talked about mundane things like popular movies and restaurants in Manhattan.

Any tips to getting backstage?

Get a job in the music business. Or (and I hate to say this), if you’re a girl: get a boob-job, wear lots of makeup and little clothing; crying works, too.

What’s the soundtrack for this book?

The soundtrack is the self-published debut album of a hard rock / heavy metal band of undetermined origin. There are so many talented singers, writers, and musicians out there, trying to make it in the highly competitive and somewhat shady music business. The headlining act in BACKSTAGE WITH BETH AND TRINA is not one of those bands. Instead, imagine a cross between Whitesnake, Cinderella, and Def Leppard; take away half of the hair product — and half of the charisma; and turn the amplifier up to 11.

Will there be further adventures for Beth and Trina? I’m pushing for a catfight…

Further adventures are in the works. And rest assured — there will be guitars and there will be long hair involved. Now what do you suppose a catfight would smell like, Jeff?

Visit BethandTrina.com | Check out their myspace page | Buy Backstage with Beth and Trina