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Haunted America FAQ

Haunted America FAQ

All That’s Left to Know About the Most Haunted Houses, Cemeteries, Battlefields, and More

by Dave Thompson


Asked if she was believed in ghosts, Marie Anne de Vichy-Chamrond, Marquise du Deffand (1697-1780) replied, “No, but I am afraid of them.”

Whether you share the Marquise’s position or not, there is no doubt that the idea visitors from the afterlife has gripped humankind since time began. Ancient cultures East and West took spirits for granted, and reported sightings continue to this day—many of them close to home in every corner of the United States.

 In Haunted America FAQ (October 2015, Backbeat Books, $19.99), Dave Thompson has created a fast-paced survey of the ghosts, ghouls, and associated denizens of the country’s haunted history. Tracing local ghost stories back to Native American legends and then forward through horror tales both ancient and modern, the book revisits some of the best-known haunted locales, as well as some of the most obscure creepy places, in America.

Delving deep into the cultural history of American hauntings, Haunted America FAQ features chapters on ghosts in cemeteries, amusement parks, government buildings, hospitals, and more, as well as ghostly books, movies, and television. Also included are a roundup of reality-TV ghost hunts and a state-by-state gazetteer of haunted spots.

 Haunted America FAQ will amaze believers and skeptics alike with the history and range of spectral sightings it uncovers from around the country and, maybe, just around the corner.

6.0″ x 9.0″
408 pages
BackBeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


Dave Thompson is the author of more that 100 books on television, music, and pop culture, with previous titles in the Backbeat Books and Applause Books FAQ Series on Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, South Park, and soccer. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Goldmine, MOJO, Melody Maker and other outlets. He lives in Newark, Del.

Rita Lakin interview!

Author of the book, The Only Woman in the Room, Rita Lakin was interviewed by The Globe and Mail. Lakin talked about being a female screenwriter  in a man’s Hollywood and about the slight increase in women writers. Read an excerpt of the interview below!

00143141After her husband died in 1961, leaving her with three young children to support, Rita Lakin found a secretarial job at Universal Studios. When the English-lit grad realized screenwriting paid more than the steno pool, she started reading scripts and made her way into the business with a sample script for Dr. Kildare. Over 30 years she worked her way to executive producer, writing hundreds of television episodes, miniseries and movies. Lakin, now 85, has a new memoir, The Only Woman in the Room, that reflects on her Hollywood career during a time when there were few top female writers. The Globe and Mail talked with Lakin by phone from her home in California’s Marin County.

After all this time out of Hollywood, why did you want to write about it?

Somebody said to me I should, because I had such incredible adventures. And to reach out to the women of today, that they should continue to push for equality. I saved everything. Every script I ever wrote. All the TV Guides, reviews, story revisions, back-and-forth memos. … I still have my kiss-off letter from Aaron Spelling, which I had found on my front step in a rain puddle. That’s how it was delivered. And when I started reading that three years ago, it all came back to me.

What do you watch these days?

It runs a gamut – Breaking Bad was an absolute masterpiece. Ray Donovan is one of my favourite shows – it’s Ann Biderman and I wonder how the hell she ever got it made, and that it’s a show I would watch because it’s so filled with unpleasantness. … I used to say that I’m not going to a movie to watch people that I would walk across the street to avoid. That was my rule of thumb, but so many things in television are [unpleasant] now. I see the credits on some of these really tough, tough shows, and women are writing them! They’re not being written as the women of my era – they’re as able to handle an uzi as men. They aren’t just the little wife sitting at home, like I did and every other wife in America did with a cocktail in our hand when he walked in the door.

Streaming and other distribution methods have made it easier for challenging shows and films to find an audience and make it to the screen intact, unlike some of your–

No – oh God, what Aaron Spelling would have done to Ray Donovan! He would have made him handsome and cute and the women would be sexy and gorgeous, and there wouldn’t be anything interesting. But to give the devil his due, he did do a show called Family. It was very un-Aaron Spelling.

Read the entire interview over at The Globe and Mail


Sinister Urge

Sinister Urge
The Life and Times of Rob Zombie

By Joel McIver


The definitive biography of Renaissance man Rob Zombie – the King of Macabre

“Nobody knows anything about me, which is kind of good. I keep it that way. Everybody thinks that they know everything, but they don’t know anything, and that’s the way to be.”

That’s what Rob Zombie told an interviewer from Aquarian Weekly in 2012. As an attempt to remedy this, Sinister Urge by Joel McIver (November 2015, Backbeat Books, $29.99) is the first in-depth, career-spanning biography of the heavy-metal musician and filmmaker.

Born Robert Cummings in Massachusetts in 1965, Zombie is now as well known for his movies as he is for his music, which he has released and performed both as a solo artist and as part of his early band White Zombie. In both fields, he imbues his art with the vivid sense of macabre theater that has thrilled his millions of disciples since he and his band first emerged with Soul-Crusher in 1987.

Although he has sold millions of albums and generated many more millions of dollars at the box office, Zombie has never taken the easy option or the predictable route. Indeed, while the music industry—and many of his peers—have fallen to their knees in the last decade or so, Zombie has found a new edge, his work undiluted by success or middle age.

Drawing on original research and new interviews with bandmates and associates, Sinister Urge takes a detailed look at Zombie’s challenging oeuvre, offering close analysis of his albums and films alongside tales of his life and work on and offstage.

As McIver writes in his foreword, “Whether you appreciate Rob for his music, his films, or—as I have strived to summarize—his overall aesthetic vision, you’ll enjoy this curious tale….Rob is a modern everyman: a Goethe for the modern world. The fact that he chooses to express his talents through the medium of horror makes his story even more compelling.”

6.0″ x 9.0″
288 pages
Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


Joel McIver is the author of 26 books on music. In addition to writing biographies of leading figures in rock and metal music, he co-writes musicians’ memoirs, including those for members of Megadeth, Deep Purple, Soulfly, and the Sex Pistols. He contributes regularly to magazines and newspapers, such as Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, the Guardian, and the Daily Telegraph. He lives in London.

Michael Jackson FAQ

Michael Jackson FAQ
All That’s Left to Know About the King of Pop

 by Kit O’Toole


Michael Jackson was the undisputed King of Pop, but his influence extends much further. From his childhood years with the Jackson 5 through his astonishing solo career, he consistently broke sales record, pioneered the modern music video, and infused dance into rock and pop.

In Michael Jackson FAQ (November 2015, Backbeat Books, $19.99) Kit O’Toole takes a fresh look at Jackson’s four-decade career, covering his work in three acts – the Jackson 5, the Jacksons, and his solo years. Along the way, O’Toole reveals details such as Michael’s earliest musical influences; the Jackson 5’s start on the Steeltown label; the key players truly involved in the group’s discovery; Michael’s transformation in to a prolific songwriter; his explorations of genres, from soul to disco to pop and hip hop; the tours, videos, and notable television appearances; his best-selling albums (Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous); outtakes and obscure tracks; and more.

Michael Jackson FAQ also takes a long look at Michael’s work in films (The Wiz, Captain EO); his guest vocal appearances; and his collaborations with such music makers as Quincy Jones, Bruce Swedien, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and Diana Ross.

And there’s more! O’Toole covers the tumultuous, but successful, Victory album and tour of 1984; Michael’s major dance influences, including Bob Fosse, Gene Kelly, and Fred Astaire; the recurrent themes in Michael’s songs; and the posthumous releases through 2015, including Michael Jackson’s This Is It (1009) and Xscape (2014).

Finally, Michael Jackson FAQ celebrates Michael’s legacy – his influence on countless artists from New Edition to Justin Timberlake, as well as his widespread impact on artistry across many media, from music to choreography to videography to fashion.

Packed with detail and keen insight, Michael Jackson FAQ is essential reading for devoted fans and pop culture buffs alike.

6.0″ x 9.0″
464 pages
BackBeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


KIT O’TOOLE is a freelance writer who has written about rock, jazz, and R&B for more than 20 years. Her work has appeared in print publications including Showcase Chicago and Goldmine, and she is a contributing editor for Beatlefan magazine. As a blogger, O’Toole writes for Something Else Reviews, Blinded by Sound, and Cinema Sentries, and previously served as a music editor for BlogCritics. She lives in Chicago.


Business Basics for Musicians by Bobby Borg

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, discusses another key point that can be found in his book. In the video below you will hear him talk about business relationships with Aaron Mercier of the band, Kings of Carnage.Click play and let us know thoughts in the comments below!

00139915There has never been a greater need for musicians to understand the music business than now, when emerging technologies make it possible for artists to act as their own record labels, and new contracts are structured to grab the biggest slice of an artist’s revenue pie. But in a digital age overflowing with confusing and ever-changing information, musicians need trusted business advice from a veteran artist who can break down the basics in a language they understand.

The book not only covers legal aspects such as copyright and record contracts, it also shows to how to deal with the people involved along the way: band members, managers, attorneys, talent agents, and producers. Business Basics for Musicians will help musicians to faster navigate to success.

TV Finales FAQ

TV Finales FAQ

All That’s Left to Know About the Endings of Your Favorite Shows

 by Stephen Tropiano and Holly Van Buren


The first book  dedicated exclusively to television’s most memorable series finales, from the 1960s to today!

From Mary Richards’ heartfelt goodbye to the WJM-TV newsroom in the classic finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show to the puzzling conclusion of the enigmatic adventure series, Lost, to the tumultuous final hours in the life of Breaking Bad‘s Walter White, TV Finales FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Endings to Your Favorite Shows by Stephen Tropiano and Holly Van Buren (December 2105, Applause Books, $19.99) takes an up-close, insightful, and entertaining look at the most memorable final episodes of television’s most popular prime time, daytime, and late night series.

Crafting the final episode to a long-running television series can be challenging for producers and writers who want to remain faithful to the show’s characters and history, yet, at the same time, satisfy the high expectations of its loyal fan base. TV Finales FAQ offers television viewers the inside story on the creation, broadcast, and aftermath of the most famous (and infamous) final episodes of more than 50 television series from the 1960s through the present day.

In TV Finales FAQ, Tropiano and Van Buren dissect the final episodes that broke ratings records, like The Fugitive and M*A*S*H; those that left us scratching our heads, like Roseanne and The Sopranos; and the ones that propelled characters into the future – successfully or not – like Dawson’s Creek and Will & Grace. The book also looks at soap operas, daytime and late-night talk show finales, and, in a section called “Saying Goodbye,” looks a series finales that presented their main characters with only one option: close up shop and move on. Finally, the authors make their case for the best series finales, the ones that left critics thrilled, fans satiated, and television history changed.

The closing acts of Mad Men, Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, Dark Shadows, Donahue, Sex and the City, All My Children, and dozens more shows can be found in TV Finales FAQ. Packed with details about casts and guest stars, airdates, ratings, production, and episode plots, it is a delectable read for any TV buff.

6″ x 9″
424 pages
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


STEPHEN TROPIANO is the author of Saturday Night Live FAQ, The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on Television, and books on the film musicals Grease and Cabaret for Limelight Editions’ “Music on Film” series. He is the director of the Ithaca College Los Angeles Program, where he teaches courses in film and television theory and criticism. He lives in Los Angeles.

HOLLY VAN BUREN earned her master’s in critical studies of film and television at the University of Southern California and teaches film studies at Wagner College. She has collaborated with Stephen Tropiano as a researcher for several of his books for Hal Leonard, including Obscene, Indecent, Immoral and Offensive: 100+ Years of Censored, Banned, and Controversial Films; Saturday Night Live FAQ; and Cabaret for the “Music on Film” Series. She lives is Staten Island.


Dracula FAQ

Dracula FAQ

All That’s Left to Know About the Count from Transylvania

 by Bruce Scivally


In the 15th century, warlord Vlad III, known as Vlad the Impaler and Dracula (son of the Dragon), became a legendary figure in his native Wallachia. Four hundred years later, Irish author Bram Stoker appropriated Dracula’s name for a vampire novel he spent seven years researching and writing. Considered one of the classics of Gothic literatures, Dracula went on to inspire numerous stage plays, musicals, movies, and television adaptations. The character Dracula is a permanent fixture in pop culture.

In Dracula FAQ (October 2015, Backbeat Books, $19.99), author Bruce Scivally unearths little-known facts about both the historical and literary Dracula, covering a abundance of topics along the way, including ancient vampire myths from various cultures; Hamilton Dean, the man who first brought Dracula to the stage in England, and Horace Liveright, the publisher who brought Dracula to Broadway; Dracula in opera and ballet; and Dracula in the comics.

And, of course, Scivally covers the movies, detailing a host of vampire films, from low-budget B-movies from the 60s to documentaries such as In Search of Dracula and box-office hits such as Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 Dracula. He also looks at Anne Rice’s book series, The Vampire Chronicles, and the film version of Interview with a Vampire (1994), and at Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series – the best-selling books and the top-grossing film.

Dracula FAQ also features a gallery of rare images, from film stills to vintage ads, looks at Dracula tourist attractions and merchandise, vampire societies, and real-life vampires. Scavilly also includes lengthy biographies of some of the most iconic Draculas, including Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, Christopher Lee, Jack Palance, Frank Langella, Louis Jourdan, Gary Oldman, and Gerard Butler.

Dracula FAQ is an amazing journey through centuries of vampire history!

6″ x 9″

BackBeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


BRUCE SCIVALLY is the author of several books on film history, including James Bond: The Legacy, Superman on Film, Television, Radio & Broadway, and Billion Dollar Batman. After spending 22 years working in the film industry in Los Angeles, he moved to Chicago, where he teaches scriptwriting and film history classes at the Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago and Columbia College.


The Beat Generation FAQ

The Beat Generation FAQ

All That’s Left to Know About the Angelheaded Hipsters

 by Rich Weidman


The Beat Generation FAQ (September 2015, Backbeat Books, $24.99), the latest in a series of pop culture FAQ titles from Backbeat Books, is an informative and entertaining look at the enigmatic authors and cutting-edge works that shaped this fascinating cultural and literary movement. Disillusioned with the repression and conformity encompassing post-World War II life in the United States, the Beat writers sought creative alternatives to the mind-numbing banality of modern culture.

Beat Generation writers were no strangers to controversy: Both Allen Ginsberg’s prophetic, William Blakean-style poem “Howl” (1956) and William S. Burroughs’ groundbreaking novel Naked Lunch (1959) led to obscenity trials, while Jack Kerouac’s highly influential novel On the Road (1957) was blamed by the establishment for corrupting the nation’s youth and continues to this day to serve as a beacon of hipster culture and the bohemian lifestyle.

The Beat writers shared a vision for a new type of literature, one that escaped the boundaries of academia and employed an organic use of language, inspired by the spontaneity and improvisational nature of jazz music and abstract expressionism (Kerouac coined this writing style “spontaneous prose”). In search of deeper meaning, Beat Generation writers experimented not only with language but also with spirituality, art, drugs, sexuality, and unconventional lifestyles. Although the movement as a whole flamed out quickly in the early 1960s, replaced by the onset of the hippie counterculture, the Beats made an indelible mark on the nation’s consciousness and left a long-lasting influence on its art and culture.

With chapters covering the Beats’ major figures, their influences, their haunts, their critics, and much, much more, The Beat Generation FAQ opens a window to the movement that, for a time, defined cool and inspired generations.

6″ x 9″
400 pages
BackBeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group


Rich Weidman is a writer and editor whose work includes The Doors FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Kings of Acid Rock, published by Backbeat Books, and several regional travel guides. He serves as editor of two pop culture and movie-themed websites: Alternative Reel and Forgotten Movie Classics. He lives in Ocoee, Fla.


The X-Files FAQ

The X-Files FAQ

All That’s Left to Know About Global Conspiracy, Aliens, Lazarus Species, and Monsters of the Week

 by John Kenneth Muir


The X-Files FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Global Conspiracy, Aliens, Lazarus Species, and Monsters of the Week explores Chris Carter’s popular 1990s science-fiction TV series, which aired on Fox for nine seasons and inspired spin-offs, including feature films, TV shows, toys, novels, and comic books. The book explores the series in terms of its historical context and analyzes how many of the episodes tackle the events of their time: the Clinton era. The X-Files FAQ also tallies the episodes that are based on true stories, selects touchstone moments from the almost decade-long run, and organizes the series by its fantastic subject matter – from serial killers to aliens, from prehistoric menaces to ethnic and religious-based horrors.

The X-Files FAQ also features a foreword written by screenwriter Chris Carter who credits John Muir for his impressive and thoughtful musings. In the book you’ll read that the writing on the show, X-Files, was only half what made the show what it is today. The people who worked on the show were working in a visual medium, and as Chris Carter states in the foreword “the show somehow managed to turn that rectangle box we all viewed each week into something special and often unexpected.”

         In addition, the book recalls the TV antecedents (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) and descendants (Fringe) of The X-Files, examines the two feature films, and investigates Chris Carter’s other creations, including Millennium, The Lone Gunmen, Harsh Realm, and The After. Featuring numerous stills and the show’s most prominent writers and directors, The X-Files FAQ allows readers to relive the “Mytharc” conspiracy and the unforgettable monsters of the week – from the Fluke Man to the Peacocks. 

6.0″ x 9″
400 pages
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group


John Kenneth Muir is the author of 25 reference books, including Horror Films of the 1970s and Horror Films FAQ. John’s blog, Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV, was selected as one of the Internet’s “100 top Film Study” sites in 2010. In 2009, John appeared in the documentary Nightmares in Red, White and Blue with John Carpenter and Joe Dante. Muir is a communications and journalism teacher at South Piedmont Community College.


The SG Guitar Book

The SG Guitar Book
50 Years of Gibson’s Stylish Solid Guitar

 by Tony Bacon


Backbeat Books’ acclaimed author Tony Bacon has written a new book that will appeal to all vintage guitar aficionados: The SG Guitar Book hits the shelves this month. In the tradition of Tony Bacon’s bestselling series of guitar books, The SG Guitar Book is three great volumes in one package: a collection of drool-worthy pictures of the coolest guitars; a gripping story from the earliest prototypes to the latest exploits; and a detailed collector’s database of every production SG model ever made.

To many guitar fans, it seems inconceivable that in 1960 Gibson dumped the sunburst Les Paul and, during the following year, introduced a completely new design. We know that design now as the SG – a name that stands, quite simply, for Solid Guitar. At the time, sales of the Les Paul were faltering, and Gibson decided to blow a breath of fresh air through its solidbody electric guitar line.

The company described the result as an “ultra-thin, hand-contoured, double-cutaway body.” The modernistic mix of bevels and points and angles was a radical departure, and this new book tells the story of all the SG models that followed and the success of this sometimes overlooked and underrated guitar.

All the stories are here of the classic Standards, Specials, Juniors, double-necks, Customs, and TVs, and also the lesser-known SGs, such as the Tributes, the Deluxe, the Supreme, and the Diablo, as well as related guitars like the Melody Maker and signature models for guitarists from Robby Krieger to Jimmy Page.

The book features also interviews with and stories about Gibson personnel through the years, and all the major SG players, including Pete Townshend, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, Angus Young, George Harrison, Gary Rossington, Tony Iommi, and Derek Trucks.

The SG Guitar Book is another title that guitar players will not want to miss in their collection.


8.5″ x 11.0″
135 pages
BackBeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


Tony Bacon writes about musical instruments, musicians, and music. He is a co-founder of Backbeat UK and Jawbone Press. Tony’s books include The Ibanez Electric Guitar Book, The Ultimate Guitar Book, and History Of The American Guitar. He lives in Bristol, England.Gretsch, Sg cover


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