Writer Evan Schwartz is best known for his biographies. His book "Finding Oz" is the story of how L. Frank Baum came to create the Wizard of Oz. His other book "The Last Lone Inventor" is the story of Philo T. Farnsworth, and early inventor and television pioneer.

Evan Schwartz has now entered the world of fiction with his newest book, a novel titled "Revolver." Music fans will love it, says GBH radio's Henry Santoro. The book is about a couple of high school lovers who end up on a collision course with their hero, who goes by the name of John Lennon. Santoro inteviewed Schwartz about his new book. The interview was edited for clarity.

Henry Santoro: Before we jump directly into the book, let's talk about “Revolver,” the album. It was released in 1966, and it was the seventh studio album from The Beatles. The pencil-drawn cover art is something that one can get lost in for quite some time. What is it about that LP that resonated so strongly with you?

Evan Schwartz: I love it because it was the beginning of The Beatles' psychedelic period. It's my favorite Beatles album, and it also has historical significance in 1966. What I wanted to do is write about rock and roll, not so that the music is in the background, but so that it has something to do with the story and the plot. And even though the novel takes place in the late '70s, something happened to Charlie, the main character, when he was a toddler in the late '60s living in the shadow of Shea Stadium when The Beatles came to town.

Santoro: This past December 8 was the 40th anniversary of John Lennon's murder. Did you do anything special to commemorate that day?

thumbnail_Evan Schwartz author photo1.png
Concord Free Press

Schwartz: You know, just getting through the day was enough for me. It was the most terrible thing we went through when we were growing up. Living on Long Island, going into the city to mourn by The Dakota was just the most awful thing we ever did. So, I like to look at John Lennon for his legacy and what he's given us. Forty years later, we're still listening to this music and it's become even more powerful. And that's why I wanted to write a love letter to rock and roll and John Lennon and celebrate his legacy.

Santoro: Your previous books were biographies, they're stories about real people doing real things. And now, you've got this great novel. I have to ask, how satisfying is it to be able to make up characters and to be able to control what they actually say?

Schwartz: Well, it's funny because I went back to high school through the portal of this music and conjured scenes that happened. Everyone from my high school — my friends, my family — became composite characters. It's funny, when you go from writing nonfiction to fiction, you realize you can't just describe what happened.

My first draft of the novel was about 450 pages. And I had to take out about half of the real stories, which were brushes with famous rock stars and things that really happened, and I had to really invent the other half. And that's a lot of fun.

GBH News interns Charles Xu and Yiming Fu assisted with production of this segment.

Check out this playlist of songs referenced in "Revolver":