Monday, September 4, 2017

Ann Wicker Interview

Ann Wicker: Partner In Grooviness
by Daniel Coston

When Ann Wicker was young, she dreamed of being Tiger Beat editor Ann Moses. In the years since, she became an accomplished writer and editor from her home in Charlotte, NC. When Davy Jones of the Monkees passed away in 2012, it was Wicker’s own reflections on her childhood hero that led Ann Moses straight to her. The result is “Meow! My Groovy Life With Tiger Beat’s Teen Idols.” Wicker has helped to bring Moses’ amazing story to print, a fun yet honest account of those busy times. Wicker talked all of this, and more via email. 

Daniel Coston: How did Ann Moses get in touch with you about the book? 

Ann Wicker: In 2012, when Davy Jones of the Monkees died, I wrote a blog about seeing the Monkees in 1967 and eventually getting to meet Micky Dolenz and Davy when they (along with Peter Tork) played what was then Blockbuster Pavilion in August of 1996. Here’s the beginning of my blog:

“When I was 12, in my daydreams, I was Ann Moses, the editor of Tiger Beat, my fave teen magazine that featured stories and photos of bands and actors. She always wore groovy clothes, white or light pink lipstick, and had bright red hair. She talked to Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz on the phone. Bobby Sherman called her “babe.” She was cool.”

Some time later, Ann and some women in her office did a search on “Ann Moses and the Monkees” or something along those lines, and the blog came up. She read the blog and emailed me a comment. I was thrilled because she truly was one of my heroes, back in the day, and I had no idea what happened to her after Tiger Beat. Later, we continued to email a bit, and she learned I was a writer and editor. We talked about the book I edited, Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas, and through those “talks,” we felt we’d be a good match for crafting her memoir. 

Coston: What was it like to sit down to edit, and write her book?  

Wicker: Actually, she did the writing. I felt from the beginning that it was important that her story be told in her voice—the voice her fans would recognize from Tiger Beat. I coached her on where she needed to expand the story and dig deeper on details. I also copy and line edited the early drafts—basically grammar and fact checking. For example, I helped with the research on dates of events and such. Memoirs are sometimes difficult; memory can be faulty. Luckily, Ann has a good memory, and her mother kept all the letters Ann sent her parents from her various trips.

Coston: What surprised you the most about Ann’s story?  

That she had the audacity and the tenacity to get ahead at a tough time in a tough business for women. How she really was just a normal teenager before she was thrust into the celebrity spotlight via her work at Tiger Beat. 

Coston: When did you first start reading Tiger Beat? 

Wicker: Gosh, I’m not sure. Probably when I was 11 or 12. I was certainly reading it by the time I saw the Monkees at the old Charlotte Coliseum in 1967. When I was cleaning out my late mother’s house I found a whole box full of them that I’d kept.

Coston: What were your favorite bands? 

Wicker: Then and now? The Beatles, always. Back then, besides the Beatles: the Monkees, the Association, Sonny and Cher, The Mamas and The Papas, Simon & Garfunkel—whoever they were playing on Big WAYS. I liked Elvis, too. Now: The Spongetones (and lots of other local folks), Traveling Wilburys, Roy Orbison, Don Dixon & Marti Jones, Carrie Newcomer, Bob Margolin, Southern Culture on the Skids, Bobby Darin—too many to name, really--there’s a lot of good new stuff out there.

Coston: How did reading Tiger Beat affect your future writing and editing career? 

Wicker: Ann was a role model, for sure. I mean, since Tiger Beat ran photos of her with the bands and actors, I learned that by being a writer, you could possibly meet the people you admire. Much later, when I did get my first job as a journalist at a small daily newspaper, I learned that I was much better at writing features than serious investigative journalism—but I also learned that both types of writing/reporting have their place.  

Coston: What’s it like to be friends with Ann Moses now, and her co-author? 

Wicker: Fun! She has a great sense of humor, and we discovered we have a lot in common. We’re both liberal politically. We’re both foodies, and she’s an accomplished chef. Most important, we both believed in her story—she has a truly unique perspective on that era. 

Coston: What meant the most to you in putting together this book? 

Wicker: That Ann trusted me to help her put together the best manuscript we could. And that we got to be friends in the process.

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