Zero is the latest craze. Young, sexy and brilliant, he is a multi-hyphenated (singer-songwriter-rapper-producer) superstar for the digital generation. According to his publicist at least. He’s also a narcissistic, insecure, hyperactive, coke-snorting, pill-popping, loud-mouthed maelstrom of contradictions skating over the thin ice of terminal self-loathing. He has touched down in New York with his sycophantic entourage for the launch of a new single/album/movie/tour.
It is countdown to Year Zero. But the boy at the centre of the media feeding frenzy is cracking up. Inside the echo chamber of his own skull, he isn’t sure he deserves all the attention, doesn’t even know if he wants it anymore and is being driven half-mad by the mysterious absence of the love of his life.
As the crucial hour approaches the young star cuts and runs, setting off on a wild trip across America pursued by paparazzi, fans, fortune hunters and his Mephistophelian manager, Beasley. He’s about to find out that when you have the most famous face in the world, you can run… but you can’t hide.
GUEST POST FROM THE AUTHOR – TEN THINGS ABOUT ME!
1. I went to school with Bono. This ridiculous fact has become a lynchpin of my life. I’ve been around the world, played in bands, put out records, met and interviewed hundreds of famous musicians, written many thousands of articles, presented my own TV series, written books, had films and plays adapted from my work … but when I die, it will probably say on my grave, Here Lies Neil McCormick. He went to school with Bono.
2. I’m not really Irish, though I usually claim to be. I was born in Coventry, my dad is Scottish, my mother English. We moved to Scotland when I was a bairn, then to Dublin when I was 10. Ireland shaped me in ways that run to my core and yet part of that identity was always being an outsider. I’ve lived in London since 1983 but my accent is so mixed up, people frequently think I’m American.
3. I believed that I would be a writer, as far back as I can remember. The library was the centre of my childhood. But I planned to become a famous film actor and world beating rock star first. Those two didn’t work out so well.
4. I went to art college, mainly because I thought that’s what future rock and roll stars did. I am still pretty handy with a nib.
5. I ascribe to the John Lennon dictum “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” My career has been kind of a happy accident … but I was published at 19 and have been making a living as a writer for nearly 40 years, so I guess I must be doing something right.
6. I have become a very fast writer, which you have to be to survive in journalism in the internet age. I like to think I have developed warrior skills that come with experience, the confidence to know you can do something because you have done it before. I taught myself to stop procrastinating and let the flow of thoughts turn into words on a page. Write first, edit later, that’s my dictum.
7. I wrote the first draft of my novel, #Zero, very quickly. I retreated to an isolated cottage in the English countryside with no internet connection or phone signal and wrote 80,000 words in two weeks. It was a spiritual experience, to be completely in the flow of creativity, as if I was being carried along by a river of words and the story was writing itself. I think about that often. It is hard to recreate in the rough and tumble of everyday life, with all my responsibilities to others, but I am reassured by the idea that such a state exists, and if I am lucky I can reach out and touch it sometimes.
8. It is dangerous reading books in public places. I have wept uncontrollably on tube trains or exploded into guffaws of laughter on park benches.
9. Watching actors play me in adaptations of my work is a weird out-of-body experience, where truth and fiction collide. I thought Ben Barnes was funny and gauche in the film Killing Bono, and Niall McNamee brought a lovely mix of innocence and troubled intensity to our theatrical musical adaptation, Chasing Bono. The strangest moment came during an early casting session, when the actor playing Bono couldn’t be present, so the director asked me to read his lines. I found myself playing the part of Bono opposite an actor playing me. Somewhere in an alternative dimension, the universe cracked.
10. Did I mention that I went to school with Bono?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neil McCormick is the Daily Telegraph’s chief pop and rock music critic. He is an author, radio pundit and television presenter, with his own music weekly interview show, Neil McCormick’s Needle Time, broadcast on Vintage TV. His memoir, Killing Bono (originally published as I Was Bono’s Doppelganger) was turned into a feature film in 2011. He lives in London.
You can follow Neil on Twitter at @neil_mccormick
#Zero is published by Unbound.