Garinè B. Isassi

Garinè B. Isassi (Fiction) | Gaithersburg, MD

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Garinè B. Isassi is the author of the award-winning novel Start with the Backbeat,  the 2017 Silver Medal Winner from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) in Contemporary Fiction, and finalist for both the USA Best Books Awards and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She is a singer/songwriter who grew up with one foot in Texas and the other in New Jersey. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she is a lover of music, chocolate, and altruistic sarcasm; and a writer of post-punk humor. She is proud of her Armenian-American heritage, but tired of explaining it. She currently lives in Maryland, where she works full time in marketing communications and is the Workshops Chair for the Gaithersburg Book Festival.


Start with the Backbeat (She Writes Press, 2016). Novel. Fiction.
Start with the Backbeat (She Writes Press, 2016). Novel. Fiction.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

Start with the Backbeat is the touching story of one idealistic young woman’s journey into the music industry when it was at its multiplatinum peak. Holding onto those ideals is a challenge, but Garine Isassi’s clear, smart, good-hearted storytelling is itself a blow against easy cynicism. She reveals a sharp eye for how quickly greed and self-interest can displace a love of music—and an equally sharp understanding of how a dedicated person’s daily principled decisions can make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s a tale that’s both poignant and uplifting.”
—Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone magazine

How we hold on to our authentic selves in the face of change is the reverberating question behind Isassi’s witty and knowing first novel. A singer-songwriter turned fiction writer, she presents a slice of late-1980s New York as change not only descends upon her protagonist, Jill Dodge, a post punk rocker from Texas, but also upon the city itself at the start of the digital transformation (remember typewriters?) and the emergence of a very different music scene. Jill recently received her first promotion at Mega Big Records, and her assignment is to land the newest, hottest type of artist, a genuine gangsta rapper complete with danger, drug deals, and all the complications of life in a poor, violent neighborhood that type of performer is expected to embody. But nothing and no one are quite what Jill assumes, including the cute Hispanic guy installing Mega Big Records’ first computers. When Jill’s job, reputation, and love life are all on the line, will she be able to follow her instincts and push past stereotypes to find what’s real and meaningful?

“Told with an insider’s ear for dialogue and setting . . . Start with the Backbeat is a fresh, interesting look at a little-known slice of the music industry.”
—Sarah Pekkanen, best-sellling author of The Opposite of Me and Catching Air

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