Thursday, 28 October 2010

And the winner is...

Last week I asked what readers would like to ask Alex, the hero of Desperate Bid, and this week, as promised, I put your questions to him. So here, in order of posting, are the questions and his replies:

Why do you like Sarah? What makes her special?
Sarah’s special because I’ve never met anyone else quite like her. At work she’s super-professional and very impressive, but she can also be really funny and gentle, and she has a good ear for music and likes some very cool bands, which I wouldn’t have expected from someone who seems so serious. She’s pretty, kind, and full of surprises, so life is never dull with her around.

In an ideal world, what would your perfect date with Sarah be?
I think our first real date was just about perfect – we went to hear a great new band in a local pub and just talked and listened to music all evening, then walked home together in the rain. OK, maybe the perfect date wouldn’t have the rain, although it did give us a good excuse to ‘get out of those wet clothes’ afterwards!

What T shirt slogan would you say was the most 'you'?
I’ve always liked ‘Pobody’s Nerfect’, because I’ve done some daft things at times, and you have to be able to laugh about your mistakes.

Am I allowed two? If so, my second one would be, ‘A balanced diet is a beer in each hand.’

What motivates you?
I feel like I’m back in acting class with that one! Well, Miss, my character is very ambitious but lacking in direction and not sure where he wants to go in life, so you could say his motivation is to figure out what he should be doing with his life. Although he’s easily distracted by a pretty face!

What's your dream? What do you want most out of life and what's keeping you from it?

Cheat! That’s three questions - but they’re good questions. I had to think about them. As I said before, I feel like I’m still figuring out what my real dream is. I guess I want to be playing music and performing and spending time with people I care about. Just now I seem to be my own worst enemy. I spend too much time thinking and worrying and not enough time playing and singing – and, to come back to the first question, one of the things I like about Sarah is she encourages me to be myself and do the things that matter to me. I’d like to think I could do the same for her, too.

Thanks, Alex! And thanks to everyone who asked such interesting questions. It’s been a hard choice and I wish everyone could have won, but there can only be one winner and this time – for making Alex both think and laugh – it’s Jane Lovering. Jane, a pdf copy of ‘Desperate Bid’ is winging its way through cyberspace to you now!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Getting Lucky

I got lucky this week... no, not like that! I won a competition on the website of the lovely Christina Courtenay by sharing my favourite ChocLit hero - Ratty, from Sue Moorcroft's 'Starting Over'. So now I'm rushing downstairs whenever the postie arrives, in the hope that today will the day my parcel of books arrives. I can't wait to read Christina's 'Trade Winds' or Sue's latest, 'All That Mullarkey', both of which had been on my wish list, but hadn't quite made it to the top yet. Now they have!

Anyway, having been reminded how much fun it is to get something for nothing, I thought it would be nice to share some luck. This week's blog post was going to be a character interview with my hero, Alex, from Desperate Bid. Now it comes with an added bonus... post a comment with the question you'd like me to have asked, and next week I'll answer some of questions. And the person who posts my favourite question will get a free pdf copy of 'Desperate Bid', complete with the lovely Alex on the cover.

So, without further ado, meet Alex, a few chapters in to the story...

Hi Alex. Welcome. Tell us about yourself. What do you do for a living?

Urgh. Couldn’t you have started with an easier question? I’ve just changed jobs, sort of.

So what did you do before?

I worked in a high-street music store for a few years – it was only meant to be a stop-gap for a couple of months when I finished my Performing Arts degree, but I got a bit stuck!

And what about now?

Erm… That one’s harder to explain. But that’s what you get for deciding the solution to all your problems is to put your life up for sale on an online auction site! Now I kind of work for an event management company.

Woah, back up! You said you put your life up for sale?

Yes, that’s right. I know. Weird. OK, so I think a bit of alcohol might have been involved in the initial decision. And cheap imported beer at that. But, actually, I’m glad I went through with it. It’s not the worst decision I’ve ever made. If I hadn’t done it, I’d still be at the music shop, and I wouldn’t have met Sarah.

Who’s Sarah? Do I detect a hint of romance here?

I hope so. She’s really pretty, and a pretty special person. It’s complicated, though.

Aren’t all the best love stories? What’s the complication?

She’s kind of my boss. And my landlady. And she probably thinks I’m a total flake because I put my life up for sale. Which, let’s face it, is a reasonable assumption.

I’m sure you have all kinds of hidden depths. What do you do when you’re not working for an event management company or putting your life up for sale? Presumably you like to perform?

I do. I enjoy the theatre, but my first love is music. I play the guitar, and sing. Actually, I’m a singer-songwriter, although I don’t usually let anyone hear my songs until I know them pretty well. But I have sent a few demos off to record companies, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one day you’ll be hearing them on the radio.

Best of luck, Alex, and thanks for talking to me today.

You’re welcome.

Now, over to you. What would you like to ask Alex?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Music to Write By

If you’ve been following my blog or facebook posts lately, you’ll know that I’m lucky enough to have been featured several times on Sine FM’s book show, ‘Book It.’ One of the fun things about appearing on the show is having to choose a song to go along with the interview or story. Sometimes the choice is obvious – naturally, I couldn’t resist the 'Habanera' from Bizet's 'Carmen' to go along with my Spanish love story. Other times nothing too obvious springs to mind, and then I get to have fun playing with lyrics, titles and obscure connections – that’s how I ended up with Gerry Rafferty’s haunting song ‘Baker Street’ to accompany a review of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’, in which the protagonist, Christopher, is a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

It’s also always interesting to see what music other writers pick to accompany their stories. Some people write to music and pick their favourite writing music for the show, while others prefer writing in silence, but pick a song that, for them, evokes the mood of their story, or their feelings about writing (the Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ has been a popular choice). I write equally happily to music or silence, but am hopelessly distracted by speech, so I rarely listen to the radio but I usually have a stack of CDs by my computer.

Since ‘Desperate Bid’ is a musically-themed book, it has a longer than usual playlist attached in my mind. The song I picked to accompany the launch-day interview on ‘Book It’ was an easy choice. Bryan Adams’ ‘Summer of 69’ is the only song mentioned by name in the entire novella… at least, the only one I didn’t write! I had great fun writing lyrics to imaginary songs for the band in the book to play, but the real high point was writing the love song which my hero Alex sings to the heroine, Sarah. Sadly, I don’t quite have the musical knack to get the tunes for these out of my head and onto the page, so readers will have to imagine them… unless there’s a composer out there who’d like to set them to music for me!

Apart from the made-up songs, 'Desperate Bid' features two other kinds of music. The band in the book is somewhat Gothic in nature, and I imagine their sound as a composite of the songs on the ‘Queen of the Damned’ soundtrack, while Alex’s songs are gentler and more acoustic, perhaps reminiscent of Phil Collins or Mark Knopfler. So even in this one short-ish novella, I’ve managed to combine a number of my favourite musical styles. Nothing classical yet, though – that one’s still on the drawing board, so maybe you’ll hear more about it in future, either here or on ‘Book It.’