Encinitas has often been called a “hippie town,” so it’s no wonder it’s the home of Rocky Gregory, author of “One Groovy Summer.”
The novel follows the adventures of Will and his friend, Skip, during the summer of 1968. It was a time of sex, drugs and rock and roll — and a time Gregory himself remembers well.
Here’s what he had to say about “One Groovy Summer” — both the book and his own experiences.
• On your website, you write about how you were definitely a product of the Sixties. Yet “One Groovy Summer” is fiction rather than a memoir. Why did you decide to write it as a novel?
Only about 40 percent is my story, and some of that has been embellished. So an autobiography wouldn’t have been nearly as much of an adventure. It’s just that it was such an interesting and exciting time, I wanted to share what it was like. I always thought it would make a great movie, too. I wanted to call it “One Crazy Summer,” but that was already taken. I thought if I wrote it as a novel, someone reading it would want to turn it into a movie. No luck on that yet.
• Do you think teens reading it today will relate to that time period, or is this more a piece of nostalgia for baby boomers?
Young adults who read it relate to the characters being teens like themselves, and they seem to look at the timeline as a fun history lesson or a reminder of things their parents or grandparents told them. It is becoming a source of nostalgia for older readers as well. They like the references to the cars and music of that time, and all the changes we went through together as a generation.
• Will, the narrator of the book, talks about how much he admires his dad and that their only point of contention is rock and roll, which his dad calls “jungle music.” Did your parents feel that way, too? Do you think kids and parents still have that generation gap, music-wise?
My dad hated rock and roll, since he came from the Big Band Era. My mom was more understanding, but she preferred Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. The gap was really about more than just music, though. It was the clothes we wore and the hairstyles and our attitudes toward sex and drugs. It was quite a gap back then. I do believe that a generation gap exists in every generation — just maybe not as extreme today as it was in the Sixties.
• In the book, Will attends concerts by the Doors and the Beatles, which now are considered pretty historic. Did you see them in person, or was that wishful thinking in terms of your own concert days?
Yes, I saw them both. I loved the music back then, especially what was coming out of England. I was lucky enough to see the Stones, the Animals, the Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, and the Who, just to name a few. My favorite was the Beatles. They had such great personalities and were so new and exciting. By 1968, a lot of American bands had caught up. I loved Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, the Young Rascals, Tommy James and the Shondells, the Buckinghams, the Turtles, the Box Tops, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, the Doors, and all the rest.
• What made you want to write about that period of history?
To me, living at that time was a great adventure. There was so much social change going on. The civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, women’s lib, the Vietnam War, the anti-war movement, and the anti-establishment movement were all happening at the same time. Add in the clothes, the hair, the drugs, the burning of bras and draft cards at the protest rallies. Wow! It was a wild and crazy time to be a teenager.
• I hear you’re writing a sequel, which means “One Groovy Summer” must be doing well.
The book is doing very well and I am in the process of writing the sequel right now. This one centers on Will’s freshman year in college. After that, I may write a prequel about his adventures at the Military Academy.
• Encinitas seems like the perfect place for the author of “One Groovy Summer” to live. Did you grow up here?
Encinitas is a great place to live for anyone and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I am originally from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, but I’ve lived in Encinitas for more than 30 years now. It’s like paradise.