Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. And recently, Amy Winehouse. Each died at 27 as a result of drug abuse, despair, or both. Back when Kurt Cobain took his own life at that age, his mother lamented, “I told him not to join that stupid club.”
Unplugged imagines a talented and tormented woman whose membership in the club is denied—barely.
Up-and-coming rocker Dayna Clay struggles to make it through the final night of a wildly successful concert tour. Tormented by an ever-deepening depression, the 27-year-old hands her guitar to a fan and beats a hasty retreat. She flies home to Chicago and attempts suicide … but nature seemingly steps in to spare her. Still unsure whether her life is worth living, she forfeits her career and disappears, setting out incognito for parts unknowns.
Dayna winds up, quite by accident, in the South Dakota Badlands, whose inhabitants—human and otherwise—challenge and change her in striking ways. She develops a profound affinity for the jagged, dramatic, semi-stable Badlands formations, which she takes strength from climbing. She forms a bond with the bighorn sheep she finds living on this seemingly unlivable land. And she befriends Drake, a “wise-acre” but wise rancher and retired stuntman who himself has struggled with depression, and his mischievous daughter, Kayla—with whom Dayna begins to fall in love.
All the while, Dayna’s mysterious disappearance and continuing absence only serve to boost public interest in her—and to fuel her now-skyrocketing record sales. Laboring to choose between her musical ambitions and the new life she has made, Dayna finds herself stranded, alone, in a far-flung corner of the wilderness she has come to know and love. Saved from suicide earlier by nature, she now may perish by the very same hand…
This expanded 15th-anniversary edition of the critically acclaimed novel contains sheet music for the dozen “Dayna Clay” songs that the author composed—six of them in collaboration with creative partner Maya Kuper, who plays “Dayna” in their adapted live show “Unplugged: A Survivor's Story in Scenes & Songs.”
Paul McComas is the author of two novels, two short-story collections, a novella and a suite of short plays. His first major nonfiction work, a scholarly film book, is in process for a university press. Paul is as recognized for his live performances and his original music and short films as he is for his writing; all are geared toward positive social outreach, progressive activism and healing. He is an award-winning teacher of film/media, literature and creative writing. Paul and wife Heather live in Evanston, Illinois with their rescue greyhound, Samois.