Christian Cerone: Sunset Downs

author interview christian cerone jordyn enrile Jan 28, 2024

Christian Cerone is, by our definition, a man who embraces the leaps and bounds of their true self. A Los Angeles native, he grew up in the underground music scenes of rock and roll in the 1980s, which inspired his newest book, Sunset Downs

Sunset Downs is a captivating exploration of the vibrant and rebellious spirit that defined the era. Drawing from his personal experiences, Christian offers a unique perspective on the transformative power of music and its profound influence on shaping individual identities. He captures the nostalgia of being crammed into clubs with 200 people to listen to music and see the performers in your face. Christian vividly portrays the raw energy and electric atmosphere of these intimate rock and roll shows, where the audience's passion was palpable and contagious. Through his evocative storytelling, he transports readers back in time, allowing them to relive the exhilaration of discovering new sounds and connecting with like-minded individuals who share a common love for music. 

Many of the stories that he tells in Sunset Downs have large nuggets of truth in them. In our most recent chat with him, Christian recalls being at the Troubador, a well-known club, when an older man approached him and revealed himself to be Jack Russell, the lead singer of Great White. He goes on to say, "Whenever I ran into him again, he was always warm and approachable... most everybody I met was very good to me. They kind of looked at me with reverence, like, "You're young. What are you doing here?" I think they appreciated the fact that young people are interested in them and who they are." This interaction and many more helped him shape the idea that these artists were just people who cultivated a gift and chased their dreams. 

He expresses how he focused on the fans of the lifestyle and how the truths of the story morphed into fiction to create the world and interactions for Sunset Downs. The way the characters developed so naturally for him is what he attributes to the feel-good and warm nostalgic feeling the novel gives to its readers. Everyone can find themselves relating to one or more of the characters in the story, whether it's their struggles, aspirations, or personal growth. This relatability is what makes Sunset Downs a captivating read that resonates with a wide audience. Additionally, the author's skillful portrayal of human emotions and relationships adds depth and authenticity to the characters, making them feel like real people rather than mere fictional creations. 

Christian's background in writing starts with dabbling with a typewriter as a kid; he was never driven to write or read but eventually grew to be a high school Literature and English teacher. One of the skeletons in his closet was that he was not a good English and Language Arts student, often getting Cs. "I would skate by, turn in an essay, and my teachers would say I was a really good writer." Getting out of college, he wasn't even sure what he wanted to do, stating the different options he could go with, such as music, film, or getting involved in entertainment, but LA was a tough area to try to get his foot in the door. Despite his uncertainty, he ultimately decided to pursue a career in education in college at UCLA due to his passion for literature and desire to inspire young minds. He had taken a class in journaling that helped him realize that writers get their inspiration from life. Over time, he honed his writing skills, then turned to teaching, and finally landed on starting and finishing his book. "It's been a long, slow journey. I don't care if I make a dime on it. I'm not here for a career. I just want to have a copy of a book I wrote so that my children can hold it. I wanted to leave something behind." 

 "I feel I've learned a lot. Nothing fascinates me more than sitting down and talking to a writer, and I acknowledged a couple that have given me permission to feel like I am on the right track; I could be a writer." A lot of his progress is attributed to his amazing partner and editor. Even though the book was finished in 2017 and formally edited in 2019, he's grateful for the people who have helped him throughout his slow and arduous journey with writing it. He acknowledges that without their support and guidance, he may not have been able to complete his book. One of his inspirations is Sandra Cisneros, the author of House on Mango Street. He remembers teaching her vignettes and stories in his class and seeing her speak at a festival where she surprised him by stating that her process is to sit in the morning for about 30 to 45 minutes and write; that's it. This gave him validation that his process of working in smaller, manageable increments could get him to his goal as well. 

The advice that he shares and that he's had to learn and remind himself of is not to force the writing. If all you can do is sit and write a page, you have still written a page. It is what it is. You shouldn't compare yourself to other writers; we each have practices that are more effective for our style and schedule. Use what works for you. You're not a hack or a scam, and writing anything shows your commitment, no matter the length or subject. Sometimes that's all there is, and you can come across it when you can. Give yourself permission to be authentic in your writing; your editor, whether a friend or professional, can rein you in if necessary. Richard Bach, author of Johnathan Livingston Seagull, said something that has stuck with Christian for years, "A difference between an amateur writer and a professional writer is that the professional didn't quit." This quote resonated with Christian and became a guiding principle in his writing journey. He realized that perseverance and dedication were key factors in becoming a professional writer. Embracing this mindset, Christian learned to view challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement, ultimately fueling his passion for writing even further and resulting in his dream of a published story his loved ones can cherish for years to come. Take a trip back to the neon age of 80s metal by grabbing a copy of Sunset Downs today. 

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Jordyn is a dedicated college student pursuing a B.A. in English with a minor in History. Her passion lies in the exploration of the world of words and stories. Jordyn aspires to find her place in the publishing world, where she hopes to bring stories to life, while also working towards a career as a children's school librarian, nurturing young minds to discover their own literary adventures. Her spirit animal, the octopus, reflects her appreciation for the diverse ways creativity can reach out in various directions, embracing the wonders of the world.