Music Within Fictional Books

Music to Die For” was a panel at Morecambe and Vice, showcasing some authors and their use of music within their writing as well as their music backgrounds.

William Shaw

William Shaw who had been a music journalist for 20 years and is now a best-selling author. He has received plaudits from well-written, well-known authors such as Val McDermid and Peter May for his book The Birdwatcher and now he has written his latest book is Salt Lake. The first in a new series of books. 

D.S Alexandra Cupidi is his main character who has left the London Met for the Kent Coastline with a  resentful teenager in tow. There a drowned man is found in a slurry pit and the more D.S Cupidi finds, the more questions she has to ask and the more she asks, the more suspicious people grow.

The man drowned in the slurry pit had been herded there like an animal. He was North African, like many of the fruit pickers that work the fields. The more Cupidi discovers, the more she wants to ask – but these people are suspicious of questions.

William Shaw also received the “Eric Award” for services to the Morecambe and Vice Festival.

Salt Lane book

 

Alan Parks

Alan Parks writes what is termed as “Tartan Noir” with his book: Bloody January. He was a successful music industry executive, working with All Saints, New Order, Gnarl’s Barkley and Cee-Lo Green to name but a few.
He talked about how he was inspired by music and how it essentially navigated him through culture. He uses 70s music such as Small Faces and David Bowie. He set his book in 1970’s Glasgow, which is worth mentioning that he sees Glasgow during this time period, being more glam than L.A. with folk making a real effort and getting dressed up for the night. He said, it was a different side of the city, away from the violence that was going on at that time.

Bloody January is a debut novel by Alan Parks and has already been shortlisted for THE GRAND PRIX DE LITTÉRATURE POLICIÈRE.
In Bloody January, Detective Harry McCoy is the main character who investigates the dark underbelly of 70s Glasgow. It is hotly tipped to be a real contender as being a new voice in Tartan-Noir.

 

Bloody January

Joe Thomas

Joe Thomas is a visiting lecturer at Royal Holloway University of London and is the author of Paradise City. He said that he sees music as categories that is infused into his first novel, “Paradise City”, which is set in Sao Paolo. Those categories are: political, joy and melancholy.

Paradise City investigates the underbelly of deepest, darkest Sao, Paulo, Brazil, where there are drugs and guns. Mario Leme is the main character to feature here. He is a low-ranking detective in the Sao Paolo civil police. Every day on the way to work he sets off early and drives through the favela known as Paraisópolis – Paradise City – the place where his wife was gunned down.
There are plaudits for its freshness.

Paradise City book

More About The Music

They talked about how they use music to draw the audience into the character’s worlds, giving them a sense of place and how it adds a certain amount of background atmosphere.

This, I found particularly interesting because music has often cropped up in books, but, certainly in the books I have read in recent times, it has had a presence in a way that seems more than ever before. This I think, can help add to the atmosphere and gives readers a sense of what was going on culturally at a certain time, in a certain place. Today, with the internet, music platforms and tv programmes dedicated to music, it is easier than ever before to look up a song or instrumental piece that is mentioned in a book and actually listen to it, if it is unfamiliar to the reader.

This was an interesting panel of people and the topic of their conversation certainly grabbed my attention and was well done.

All these books can be found within several bookshops such as WH Smith and Waterstones, to name but a few and Amazon.

 

 

 

@realhughfraser @RobertDaws @urbanebooks @MorecambeVice @LoveBooksGroup #authors #actors #readers Showcasing Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws

A small Showcase of actors/authors Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws

The scene was set for an afternoon of more crime chat and the topic of conversation was “If I Were Not Upon the Stage”. This was the turn of Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws, both known for acting, but for awhile now, they have been making in-roads into the world of books. They are showing page after page, book after book, that they are successful at gauging what is interesting the public right now and that they too can write and do it well.

For those who aren’t too sure who Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws are, or are thinking they seem familiar, but haven’t yet fathomed why, without further ado, I will tell you what their previous work is.

Hugh Fraser is probably best known for playing Captain Hastings in the ITV Poirot series, the Sharpe series and for the theme tune of children’s tv series Rainbow. He has also narrated many Agatha Christie’s audio books.

Robert Daws is probably best known for cricketing sitcom – Outside Edge and hospital drama – The Royal.

I saw Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws in conversation in person for the first time ever at the Morecambe and Vice Festival 2018. They were naturals at this and seemed at ease, whether they really were, who knows, but that is the impression they gave to their audience as the atmosphere suggested, they also relaxed into it. They had a good turnout and no wonder when they gave one of the most entertaining and interesting talks. Then afterwards, it was such a pleasure to meet these two gentlemen.
So, I will continue and write about both authors separately and then together.

 Hugh Fraser

 
Hugh Fraser

*Hugh Fraser now is so synonymous with Agatha Christie, especially playing the role of Captain Hastings when ITV had the rights, but the reality is that this was a role he played, albeit incredibly well and convincingly. He has not transferred Agatha Christie’s writing or styles into his books. Agatha Christie’s books are more of a genteel mystery, trying to find out who done what to whom (although there are some pretty brutal murders in some, such as in the Mystery of the Spanish Chest, but on the whole and in-comparison, the tone is definitely different). Hugh’s series of books are more action packed with the main protagonist, feminist assassin Rina Walker, who is written in the first person and set in the 50s and 70’s between Nottinghill, London and Mexico and features plenty in the underworld such as gangsters and a drug cartel. Readers do get the chance to learn why she became a contract killer. So, as you can see, this series is much further away from any Agatha Christie in style. I would go further into the books, but I would like to take time in reviewing Stealth in a different blog and I will write more about the series there.

As I was writing and as I thought about the event more, it struck me that it is very true about what was touched upon during the conversation on the festival’s “stage” and how people do seem to like to look for similarities in such instances as this. In my opinion, the only similarities would be that both Agatha Christie’s and Hugh Fraser’s books they would both sit in the crime section and both are cleverly written for their genre. They also both absolutely have their unique place in book selections up and down the country and indeed across the world, for people to read.

It’s always interesting to hear how people get into writing books, or at least I think so. Hugh Fraser said on the panel that he had started to write plays, but really  got into writing after applying for a short course he had seen advertised and soon he was enrolled in creative writing courses with the University of East Anglia, the Guardian: Masterclass Program. It turned out he was rather good at it and his first book, Harm, was published. He has since gone on to publish 4 books in this series. The fourth being Stealth, which I am, at time of writing, over half way through reading and is available now to buy. As soon as I sat on one of many trains home, I opened the book and started reading a lot of it. It is a very good read so far. I don’t want to go too much into it at this moment in time as I shall write a review of it as soon as I can, it is definitely worth that.

Hugh Fraser will also be appearing at the Thames Art Literature Festival on 21st October. If I could go, I would. Hugh Fraser may be able to “grow 4 arms” and I may be able to seem like I can “be everywhere”, to some people with all that I do and places I visit, unfortunately I haven’t mastered the capabilities of being in many places at once. I won’t spoil Hugh’s mystique. Find a profile pic of him and you will see.

 

                                                                       

 Robert Daws

 

Robert Daws
*Robert Daws, wrote plays and co-ran a theatre. Funnily enough, he said these plays would be showing in his theatre. He still does some acting work in theatre to this day. He has also done tv and radio, as mentioned before. For Outside Edge he was nominated for Best Actor at the British Comedy Awards, which is no mean feat. He was also in Roger, Roger, Jeeves and Wooster and more recently, Doc Martin to name but a few.
Robert Daws, interestingly said writing crime novels presented itself to him, he didn’t particularly go looking to write in this genre. He went on to talk a little about his novels, which I have to say, immediately sound very intriguing. He went on to tell the audience that they were novels that had some history to them, but moved forwards to the present day. He said of this that his books, although set in the past, have consequences to the present day. It’s actually a thought provoking fact, when you think about it because everything that is said and everything that is done in life has a consequence, that’s not to say consequences are all necessarily going to be bad or good. Going back to the books however, Robert Daws said that his books are primarily set in present day Gibraltar. His latest however is set in L.A. but has repercussions in Gibraltar. His main characters are Chief Inspector Gus Broderick and colleague Detective Sergeant Tamara Sullivan. In the first novel their relationship is tested to the limit on the case they have to solve. Tamara Sullivan is on secondment from the Metropolitan Police and there are reasons why she is in Gibraltar…

In 2012, his first novel, “The Rock” made it to the list of Top Amazon Bestseller 5 times. These, when I get chance, also deserve reviewed in greater detail, especially the latest one of course.

There was a “Hidden Talent” section at the festival, which is very different and rather fun. Robert Daws’ hidden talent is singing. I think everyone was taken aback a bit about just how talented as singer he actually is. There’s a real richness to his voice when he sings and is completely in tune. Why we don’t hear more of this, I just don’t know!

 

                                                                       Agreements

Both of these actors have now turned their hands to writing as you can see. That is not to say that they have turned their backs on acting. It was really interesting to hear that neither Hugh Fraser or Robert Daws have actually made a conscious decision to write over their acting careers. If there was an acting job they wanted to do or asked to do, they would do it or they’d work on their books. They didn’t seem to favour one art form over the other.

Whilst in conversation, both of these actors/authors both compared writing to working on tv or the stage. They agreed that writing is more of a solitary process from the beginning to acting. They said in acting you are all in it together going for the same aim as a team with rehearsals, travelling and filming together. With writing it can be just you (at least to begin with), we all know that there is a collaborative process later with editors, publishers etc, but in the beginning, it is, as they both made the point of saying, essentially solitary.

                                                           Writing Characters

When reading both these great author’s books, you may notice that there isn’t a great deal of character description, they’re not overloaded with (as they discussed) a certain type of nose etc. This is because both want the reader to use their imagination.
We of course get a sense of what Rina Walker looks like on the front covers of Hugh’s books, but in the writing, the rest is very much up to the reader’s imagination. Personally I like that neither have gone into the absolute finer details of the description of character appearance, as somehow, in the way they pace their books, it would have made them a bit more laboured perhaps and the tone would have changed to something very different to what we readers are now accustomed to in these particular series.

                                                                 Conclusion

So, after an excellently interesting and entertaining talk by them and meeting them, would I see them again? If the opportunity arose, absolutely and they were most definitely worth every moment of time, which went far too quickly. It is so easy to become absorbed by what they are saying (even after seeing many events over a weekend). They brought a great sense of fun to their stage piece as well as being informative in an engaging manner. My hope would be that they will continue to pursue their writing career and hopefully they will also do some acting here and there again too.

* I give thanks to Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws for giving me verbal permission to take photos of them and for kindly allowing me to use them in my blog.

Peter Robinson on DCI Banks and Writing @Inspector_Banks @Hodder Books @EllyGriffiths @MorecambeVice #Morecambe #Lancaster #Author @LoveBooksGroup #Bookblogger From An “In Conversation with” panel

Closing the first day of the weekend at the Morecambe and Vice festival was Peter Robinson, author of DCI Banks as part of summer/autumn tour in England. He was on a panel “In Conversation” with Elly Griffiths.

Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson

 

A Little About the Author

Peter Robinson was there to promote his 25th DCI Banks book called Careless Love, which is available to purchase now. He began writing, or at least getting the series published in 1987 and writes a novel approximately once a year. He also writes stand alone novels. He likes food and wine and Scandi-Crime as well as a few US authors. He grew up in Leeds and now divides his time between the UK and Canada. He has won notable awards including CWA Dagger in the Library Award.

The Book

Careless Love UK

 

Banks and his team find themselves with two suspicious deaths. One involves the apparent suicide of a young local student, whose body is found in an abandoned car on a lonely country road. She didn’t own a car. Didn’t even drive. He also talked about the inconsistencies multiplying in this case and that Annie’s father’s new partner, Zelda, comes up with a shocking piece of information that alerts Banks and Annie to the return of an old enemy in a new guise. There is also another case which concerns a man in his sixties found dead in a gully up on the wild moorland.

Peter Robinson says that Zelda is the protagonist here and he talked of how she is a character who has been through a lot but has put herself back together again. In other words, he feels Zelda carries on and can do for a bit more time. He spoke of Banks and how he felt he too could go on a bit longer yet! He says at the end of this book, that there’s enough to say there’s more to come…
Of DCI Banks he says that he has a personal life but he is married to job. He also says of Banks, which I personally really liked and there’s something profound about it:
Banks is ordinary, but, as the series goes on, finds he is more extraordinary, which means we all are.

Setting

This book is set around North Yorkshire. Eastvale is modelled on Richmond and Ripon with cobbled market squares, which he does expand. They are familiar places if you know that part of the country, even though he has added the likes of buildings such as a college in Eastvale, which continues to expand. The thing that both amused and bemused me was that he when he was talking about the setting he mentioned that people ask him if Yorkshire really exists. I can tell you, reader, that it definitely exists in a very large part of the north of England, where there is much to see and do and many a famous author has lived and still do live in, including Peter Robinson himself who grew up Leeds, which is is one of the main known cities in the county. Other writers have too, around the county, such as Joanne Harris, Kate Atkinson, Susan Hill, the Bronte sister, to name but a few. Playwrights such as Alan Bennett and Alan Aykbourn and many a poet such as WH Auden and Ted Hughes also resided in Yorkshire. There are many writers who have written dramas for tv here too, such as Kay Mellor and Sally Wainwright.  So, as you see, it definitely exists and is a wonderfully talented county of England with its cities, which have a rich history, culture and more rural places with their rolling hills and dales. I could go on about what to do, but this is about a panel at a book festival. I will say, it’s a great area of England to explore if you haven’t already!

Music

Music within his books was touched upon and how Banks has a wide range of music tastes that can be developed, he said.
I have myself noticed there are a few series of book which use music within books and there was an entirely different panel devoted to that subject.
Peter Robinson believes that there is a playlist linking to Banks’ musical tastes on Spotify.

 “Only in a novel can you be with someone who is alone and follow them through life.”

He talked about this in the context of having characters being alone, doing things like listening to music and the reader knows. When you think about it, it is so true, only in writing can you see someone’s inner thoughts that the author wants to be revealed to a reader. Obviously too, as a reader you are looking into someone else’s world. In reality of course, alone, is exactly that, so I think this was the most profound statement made within this talk and put in a way that not all readers really think of. It can almost be something that the reader can take for granted, but when someone points this out, as Peter Robinson did, it turns it into something a bit more thought provoking…

Writing Style

Peter Robinson also spoke of his writing style, which was very interesting. It turns out that normally he does no planning, so there is no fully plotted outline, but he said writing 3 books like this means he is doing a bit more pre-planning than usual. He also said it is rare that he begins with violence, normally he begins with the time after all that would have happened, citing that the victim and place is most important. He also uses forensics to move the story forwards in his police procedural tales. He said he also likes the measured, longer sentences style of writing and talked of P.D. James also writing in this style. When setting the scene he talked about how most authors write about where they know and how he once decided to set a scene in a book in Peterborough, he didn’t really know the area, so that prompted him to do a bit of research.
To get ideas he said he looks at the world around him to keep things contemporary.

TV Success

With all his success in his writing career, he couldn’t perhaps not talk about the TV adaptation of his DCI Banks books. I was quite pleased it was brought up because I find it fascinating to find out what the author thinks about their creation being shown in visual form, once they’ve handed over the rights. He said that it was exciting at first when he heard from the TV company wanting to make his books into a drama. He had no involvement in the casting. For any who don’t know, Stephen Tompkinson was cast as DCI Banks. He acknowledged that he wasn’t how people saw his lead character in the books, but thought as the series went on, he could see Stephen being Banks, more and more as he felt that the actor brought out the character of Banks. He had however said he was a more emotional character on TV than in the books. He didn’t seem to think this was a really terrible thing though. It was just a fact and one that I got the impression he didn’t mind so terribly. What was interesting however was that he wasn’t too keen on the 3rd series due to too many changes and what was omitted from the books as they transferred the 3rd series onto screen. All in all though, certainly for earlier series I thought the author sounded good that the chance of having the opportunity for his work to be televised had happened.

Is Peter Robinson worth seeing at a literary event? I would say yes. He has interesting aspects to say to his audience and comes across well.

*Peter Robinson gave verbal permission to me for his photo to be used in my blog and for that I thank him very much.

_____________________________________________________

Elly Griffiths who I mentioned was the moderator is worth seeing. She asked great questions and allowed time for her interviewee to talk and it all seemed effortless and at ease.
Elly Griffiths is known for winning the CWA Dagger In the Library Award in 2016 with her book The Chalk Pit. She has 2 series that I know of. The Ruth Galloway novels and The Stephens and Mephisto novels.
Elly book

Appearances can be Deceptive in Literary Morecambe. @MorecambeVice #Lancashire @GardensMcbe

No one goes to Morecambe is what I was confronted with by a good friend of mine, slightly amused when I excitedly announced to her I was going there. It turned out she wasn’t the last person to point this out, nor were the puzzled looks.

So, why Morecambe? Read on in this post and subsequent posts to come as to why (there is literally too much to say in a single blog post to do everything justice.

Morecambe, a place of sea, sand and the most interesting  tales to tell and of course the chance to see the statue of Eric Morecambe, who did actually used to have a hotel there, which he visited and met various people in. Morecambe is now the new up and coming crime literary place to go. The Morecambe and Vice Festival is one of England’s newest festivals with this year (2018) only being its second. Already they have the setting just right. The Winter Gardens Theatre is beautiful, set just across from the promenade.

Morecambe

Winter Gardens ExteriorEric Morecambe

I arrived Saturday afternoon, where I picked up my weekend pass that I had purchased a few months earlier and was ticked off on the register. This in itself was exciting. I had arrived and feeling suddenly more welcome than ever as I donned my badge, it all seemed very official. The organisers are all very friendly. I went alone, but already I felt very welcome and very soon had the most wonderful conversations with the staff and other festival-goers and later on with actors and directors who are now also authors.

The weekend was split into sections, after each panel had spoken, there was a very adequate interval for book signing opportunities and time to get a coffee or snack. 1 hour for lunch was also well factored in. The atmosphere is fabulous with a pianist playing at each interval and music hall music streaming through during lunch and the chatter of people.

Over the entire weekend, there were 14 different panels of speakers – 7 each day. I travelled on the Saturday, therefore unfortunately missing most of the first day, but I did catch on the Saturday afternoon:

  • “Worth a Thousand Words”, which was about graphic novels. It’s not all as it first appears.
  • “In Conversation with Peter Robinson, who writes D.C. Banks moderated by Elly Griffiths.

On Sunday, after taking a morning walk to explore, after unexpectedly meeting with friends (just shows, anything can happen in Morecambe). I rejoined the already started second day of the festival. I saw:

  • Music to Die for about how music and writing together works and inspired authors.
  • Agatha Christie on Stage about how Agatha Christie was a playwright, not just and author.
  • From Page to Screen about some well known authors and screenwriters have dual lives.
  • If I Were Not Upon the Stage about how life treading on the boards influenced their work.
  • In Conversation with Daragh Carville

There were also panels from Northern writers and how the North is influencing their work, authors who wrote other genres but now changed to crime, how crime is crime from a panel discussing LGBT crime fiction, a panel discussing tricks of the trade and a writing masterclass to plot the perfect crime (on the page I may add. No getting any ideas 🙂

There is something really exciting happening in Morecambe. There will be a new tv drama series called The Bay set there about a crime that’s been committed. It is family driven since the writer says he likes to write about families, so he has been busy writing and filming The Bay about a family liaison officer. Lots of it is actually being filmed on the streets of Morecambe as well as the scenery, which is beautiful.  The writer, Daragh Carville, had said that he looked on a map that is used to show what was filmed where and what he found was that Morecambe and surrounding area was still blank, so, although he is Irish, he now lives in nearby Lancaster and is very passionate that this area does now get showcased within the medium of drama on tv.

I stayed at the beautiful, well run B&B “Yacht Bay View”. Set on the coast, it is not far from restaurants, cafes, The Winter Gardens, the Eric Morecambe statue and the train station. I chose a sea-view room. Prices were very reasonable. The hospitality is warm, friendly and welcoming. The room I was in was comfortable with a very good stocked hostess tray of a range refreshments, including water and biscuits. It has a very good shower and comfortable bed. Breakfast has an excellent selection and is very well done and they really seem to like to feed you. You really won’t go hungry during the day. I would certainly recommend it and would happily stay there again.

Morecambe at nightBoats in MorecambeTheatre stage in Winter Gardens   Pianist in Morecambe

So, the stage is ready, the scene is set. Please look out for more blogs in the evenings this week for more of an insight into some of the events mentioned earlier.

Appearances can be Deceptive in Literary Morecambe. @MorecambeVice #Lancashire @GardensMcbe

No one goes to Morecambe is what I was confronted with by a good friend of mine, slightly amused when I excitedly announced to her I was going there. It turned out she wasn’t the last person to point this out, nor were the puzzled looks.

So, why Morecambe? Read on in this post and subsequent posts to come as to why (there is literally too much to say in a single blog post to do everything justice.

Morecambe, a place of sea, sand and the most interesting  tales to tell and of course the chance to see the statue of Eric Morecambe, who did actually used to have a hotel there, which he visited and met various people in. Morecambe is now the new up and coming crime literary place to go. The Morecambe and Vice Festival is one of England’s newest festivals with this year (2018) only being its second. Already they have the setting just right. The Winter Gardens Theatre is beautiful, set just across from the promenade.

Morecambe

Winter Gardens ExteriorEric Morecambe

I arrived Saturday afternoon, where I picked up my weekend pass that I had purchased a few months earlier and was ticked off on the register. This in itself was exciting. I had arrived and feeling suddenly more welcome than ever as I donned my badge, it all seemed very official. The organisers are all very friendly. I went alone, but already I felt very welcome and very soon had the most wonderful conversations with the staff and other festival-goers and later on with actors and directors who are now also authors.

The weekend was split into sections, after each panel had spoken, there was a very adequate interval for book signing opportunities and time to get a coffee or snack. 1 hour for lunch was also well factored in. The atmosphere is fabulous with a pianist playing at each interval and music hall music streaming through during lunch and the chatter of people.

Over the entire weekend, there were 14 different panels of speakers – 7 each day. I travelled on the Saturday, therefore unfortunately missing most of the first day, but I did catch on the Saturday afternoon:

  • “Worth a Thousand Words”, which was about graphic novels. It’s not all as it first appears.
  • “In Conversation with Peter Robinson, who writes D.C. Banks moderated by Elly Griffiths.

On Sunday, after taking a morning walk to explore, after unexpectedly meeting with friends (just shows, anything can happen in Morecambe). I rejoined the already started second day of the festival. I saw:

  • Music to Die for about how music and writing together works and inspired authors.
  • Agatha Christie on Stage about how Agatha Christie was a playwright, not just and author.
  • From Page to Screen about some well known authors and screenwriters have dual lives.
  • If I Were Not Upon the Stage about how life treading on the boards influenced their work.
  • In Conversation with Daragh Carville

There were also panels from Northern writers and how the North is influencing their work, authors who wrote other genres but now changed to crime, how crime is crime from a panel discussing LGBT crime fiction, a panel discussing tricks of the trade and a writing masterclass to plot the perfect crime (on the page I may add. No getting any ideas 🙂

There is something really exciting happening in Morecambe. There will be a new tv drama series called The Bay set there about a crime that’s been committed. It is family driven since the writer says he likes to write about families, so he has been busy writing and filming The Bay about a family liaison officer. Lots of it is actually being filmed on the streets of Morecambe as well as the scenery, which is beautiful.  The writer, Daragh Carville, had said that he looked on a map that is used to show what was filmed where and what he found was that Morecambe and surrounding area was still blank, so, although he is Irish, he now lives in nearby Lancaster and is very passionate that this area does now get showcased within the medium of drama on tv.

I stayed at the beautiful, well run B&B “Yacht Bay View”. Set on the coast, it is not far from restaurants, cafes, The Winter Gardens, the Eric Morecambe statue and the train station. I chose a sea-view room. Prices were very reasonable. The hospitality is warm, friendly and welcoming. The room I was in was comfortable with a very good stocked hostess tray of a range refreshments, including water and biscuits. It has a very good shower and comfortable bed. Breakfast has an excellent selection and is very well done and they really seem to like to feed you. You really won’t go hungry during the day. I would certainly recommend it and would happily stay there again.

Morecambe at nightBoats in MorecambeTheatre stage in Winter Gardens   Pianist in Morecambe

So, the stage is ready, the scene is set. Please look out for more blogs in the evenings this week for more of an insight into some of the events mentioned earlier.