1. Did you draw upon anything personal when you wrote this story? If so, how did it help/hinder your writing?
My characters are not based on anyone I personally know but I’ll admit to being born in the 60’s – OK, you got that out of me, reluctantly! LOL
Summer of Haight ‘67 is a fiction novel but I wanted the setting for my story to be 100% authentic. I immersed myself in the 60’s hippie culture and spent hours and hours on research. The book is factually correct. I listened to music from the late 60’s constantly, particularly the psychedelic era. I even bought a record player (remember those?) I got my old LP’s out and bought even more from eBay… Grateful Dead, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Jimi Hendrix, The Charlatans, Country Joe and the Fish, to name but a few. There are Hells Angels, Black Panthers, political unrest and a horrific war. I wrote and researched constantly during the 15 months it took me to complete it. I wore hippie clothes and I even found myself saying 60’s words. I stopped at the drug scene though. It’s just not my bag!
I also have some first-hand experience to back up my research. As a very little girl my parents drove me through the Haight district to look at the “freaks” as my Dad called them. I saw them dance around adorned with flowers and beads, obviously high as a kite but I didn’t know that at the time!
I “met” some great people during the writing of the book – Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Micky Dolenz, even Charles Manson made an appearance! I mingled with the Hells Angels, the Black Panthers and the Diggers to name a few. This is a fictitious story based around real life events of sex, drugs and psychedelic music. My main character Katie has a horrific accident in 2014 and it hurls her back into her 20 year old hippie body – but with the memory of a 66 year old. It’s a trip, man!
There is the gruesome war in Vietnam and the political unrest and protesting that came with it. I learned a lot and my hope is that my readers will too
2. How did you choose the Summer of Love theme for your time-travel idea? What inspirations led to this story?
I started my writing career as a horror writer and I have books published under my “zombie/apocalyptic/vampire/horror” name of D.S. Sager. I have two books completed for my Evil Vein trilogy.
When it came to writing my 1960’s hippie supernatural time travel idea, the thing that jumped out at me, and I think most people who lived in Northern California, was the “Summer of Love” in 1967.
As I said earlier, I was a small child when I saw this phenomenon and it stuck with me over the years. I often wish I had been a bit older to be able to experience it fully. I always loved the 60’s music and clothing. Who didn’t love the Beatles and the other great 60’s bands? It has an enchanting, carefree feel about it although there were some awful things going on in the world.
So I settled on 1967 in San Francisco and I started my research. It turned out to be a huge history lesson for me over the 15 months it took to write and I hope my readers will love the story and know that this is how it really was back then. By the way, I have another storyline in my head with some of the same characters – perhaps to another monumental time in history. All I can say is it’s coming SOON !
3. You chose a clever homophone for use in your title. Are there any other choices in language or style that you used to enrich your novel?
Thank you. Surprisingly, this is the first time I have been asked this question. To be as authentic as possible my characters use terms and phrases that were widely used in this period. They speak in a lingo and style that screams 60’s – perhaps it was all the sex and drugs and rock & roll !!
I struggled a bit with the title. It had to indicate a period in time and the so called Summer of Love became known around the world. My husband suddenly said “Summer of Haight ‘67” and it clicked. 67 gives it a time period and we get the vision of the Summer of Love on Haight street. Plus my editor LOVED it too.
As I mentioned, I am a horror writer too and if you say Summer of Haight without reading the words it twangs just a little of the macabre. Go a bit deeper and there is some hatred in the story as Katie goes back in time and confronts the man she married in her former life that turned out to be a disaster. She can fix that !!
THANK YOU so much for this interview. Your questions were a pleasure to answer.
About the novel:
Katherine Rhoads has a tragic accident which sends her back in time. She wakes up as the 20 year old hippie she was back in 1967 in the Haight/Ashbury district of San Francisco.This was the period known globally as the “Summer of Love”. It’s all here, Hippies, Hells Angels, Black Panthers and the abhorrent war in Vietnam. “Katie gets the chance to re-live this era with her friends Frog and Moonbeam. This time she knows what to expect and tries to change things... Can she?
Feeling dizzy, she shut her eyes and rubbed her temples for several minutes, running through the accident in her mind. She remembered going down the embankment and hitting the tree. She knew she had been in an ambulance and she remembered a slew of doctors surrounding her. Yet here she was sitting on a couch…somewhere familiar, a place she knew but couldn’t recall.
A brown chenille bedspread covered the couch. There was a basic wooden coffee table, several antique lamps, one in the corner and another on an old table by a beveled window. The hardwood floor of the room was covered by an imitation Persian carpet.
The walls and even the ceilings were filled with posters; old bands like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Yardbirds, and even the Monkees. Some were drug related, promoting marijuana, mushrooms and LSD. Others were political, protesting the Vietnam War, even including a caricature of Lyndon B. Johnson dressed as John Wayne.
On the ceiling directly above her was a poster of Clint Eastwood draped in a poncho, cigar resting on his lip. A pose from For a Few Dollars More. She knew the film well. Beside it were several blacklight posters, psychedelic peace symbols, a hookah smoking caterpillar, and an assortment of twirling colorful designs.
The television, an old tube model from yesteryear, was in a wooden cabinet covered by stickers: STP; two local radio stations, KLIV and KFRC; Champion spark plugs; bare feet and peace symbols of various colors. Beside that was a flower painted guitar case that leaned against the wall. Everything in the room was familiar. She knew this house. She had been here many, many times, so why couldn’t she remember whose house she was in?
Author Diane Sager was raised and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her awesome husband Russ, three dogs, two cats and an African grey parrot named Storm. She holds a fascination for all things macabre and has developed a deep knowledge of serial killers, vampires, zombies, the Tarot, world religions, witchcraft, horror and the occult.
However, her latest indie release, Summer of Haight ‘67 is none of the above albeit a little supernatural.... This story is nestled between her zombie series Evil Vein, published by Permuted Press and penned under her “apocalyptic” name of D. S. Sager
A former high school teacher of emotionally disturbed and high-risk youth, Diane is now dedicated to full time writing.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, or check out her website. You can find her book on Amazon.