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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
How the Mistakes Were Made

How the Mistakes Were Made

A Novel

Tyler McMahon

St. Martin's Griffin


Laura Loss came of age in the hardcore punk scene of the early 1980s. The jailbait bass player in her brother Anthony's band, she grew up traveling the country, playing her heart out in a tight network of show venues to crowds soaked in blood and sweat. The band became notorious, the stars of a shadow music industry. But when Laura was 18, it all fell apart. Anthony's own fans destroyed him, something which Laura never forgot.
Ten years later, Laura finds her true fame with the formation of The Mistakes, a gifted rock band that bursts out of ‘90s Seattle to god-like celebrity. When she discovered Nathan and Sean, the two flannel-clad misfits who, along with her, composed the band, she instantly understood that Sean's synesthesia—a blending of the senses that allows him to "see" the music— infused his playing with an edge that would take them to the top. And it did. But it, along with his love for Laura, would also be their downfall.
At the moment of their greatest fame, the volatile bonds between the three explode in a mushroom cloud of betrayal, deceit, and untimely endings. The world blames Laura for destroying its rock heroes. Hated by the fans she's spent her life serving, she finally tells her side of the story, the "true" story, of the rise and fall of The Mistakes.


I don't mind the hate. It doesn't bother me anymore. There was a time when I was adored by the same brain-dead sheep who despise me now. I don't miss that. Behind every dead rock god, there's always some uppity female scapegoat....

Praise for How the Mistakes Were Made

“[McMahon's] female narration is so good, there is a Lorrie Moore–ness to Laura's intelligence, self-awareness and self-deprecating wit....A rock novel good enough to wish you had an accompanying soundtrack.” —Kirkus Reviews

“McMahon conveys the exhilaration and vitality of an outsiders' music scene and successfully evokes a time and place where kids who followed their own guitar-powered soundtracks were briefly able to crank up the volume for the world to hear.” —Publishers Weekly

In the Press

Read the Kirkus Review of HOW THE MISTAKES WERE MADE . Seattle rocker Laura Loss, one-time teen bass player in her brother's successful early-'80s hardcore punk band SCC, recalls her ascent to grunge queen--and her descent into rock tabloid infamy--as drummer of the legendary '90s band the Mistakes. - Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads

Tyler McMahon

TYLER MCMAHON is the author of the novels Kilometer 99 (2014) and How the Mistakes Were Made (2011). He teaches fiction writing at Hawaii Pacific University and is the editor of Hawaii Pacific Review. He lives in Honolulu with his wife, food writer Dabney Gough.

St. Martin's Griffin

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