Like writer, like musician for father-and-son team

Roger and Jon Campos specialize in differences of opinion. Fortunately, those differences resulted in a common creative end. Sleeping With An Angel, a work of fiction deemed a rock novel because of the music accompanying it. Readers are instructed to play certain tracks of the CD at different times in the novel when the characters themselves are listening to the music.

Fortunately the music isn’t just background. Jon Campos avoids cheesy mood-setting, instead, the songs serve as pivotal points for the novel’s events and themes. And it’s a neat trick to have a son singing for his father in the story and a son singing for his father in real life.

But Roger Campos, father and author has made Sleeping With An Angel more than just an interesting idea.

"I’m hoping people will be able to see themselves and confront their own demons," he says. "But I also see it as an alternative, of confronting goodness."

Sleeping With An Angel speaks to both the pits of despair and the pinnacles of happiness. The plot begins simply: Powerful, but somewhat shallow lobbyist (Tony Cassera, the main character) has very checkered past, including estranged son from failed marriage at a young age. Lobbyist meets entrancingly beautiful woman from his hometown. Lobbyist and seductress fall in love, or at least, in lust. Seductress comes to Washington, D.C. with lobbyist. Then things get a little more complicated, and angels enter the picture.

"The book started four years ago. I wrote the whole basic story when I was snowed in for four days during the blizzard of ’96," Roger Campos says. "It took four days to write the story and four years to get it to the book you see here."

Campos began with the intention of including his son’s music. He wanted to use a few of Jon’s existing songs, but most were written after the manuscript was complete.

"I was in the process of changing my sound and getting a different sound — an edgier rock pop sound — and he really wanted to use his older songs." Jon Campos says. "He’s more New Age and he likes lighter-style music, so there was a lot of compromising to get the sound that he would like and that I could like too.

"That’s what kind of makes it unusual. There’s so many different genres on the CD. It’s morelike the old days when artists could have a wide range of sounds going on … nowadays musicians are getting more specific, and I think people really do like that wide range.

The songs on the album are truly divers — Jon and Roger Campos have done an admirable job of integrating the music into the fabric of the novel. At the beginning of the recording process, Jon Campos was living in Texas and flying to Maryland to work in the recording studio, but both father and son realized the job needed to be done together.

Roger Campos knew that to maintain creative control over the book, he needed to be involved in the music aspect as well. He attended every recording session when Jon moved to Maryland to continue the project.

Although Roger Campos is hesitant to say the book is strictly autobiographical, he admits that many of the fictional relationships between the main character and his son parallel their experience.

"It’s definitely the case that there is a son who is a singer / songwriter and I’m a singer songwriter — and the parents being divorced, parent who were really young." Jon Campos says. "Later on, we became good friends, but of course, there were still some issues and this was definitely a healing process, this book going through it together."

Reprinted With Permission: Gazette Entertainment March 1, 2000

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