Books: The Revenge of the Dork

What do you do when your erudite punk-rock band stalls? Of course! Write a novel for teens

Frank Portman had to grow up. The punk pop band he founded in the '80s--the Mr. T Experience--had the kind of long-term niche success that leads to self-doubt and massive credit-card debt. Plus, the band had fallen apart. Portman, 42, was on the verge of becoming that old guy working at a record store. And record stores don't much exist anymore.

Luckily, one of his fans grew up to be a book agent who specializes in young-adult novels. So when Steven Malk, 33, used his job as an excuse to talk to Dr. Frank, as Portman is known, after a show,...

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