Today I’m drawing names out of a hat. (If you’re reading this before noon (UK time!) you’ve got time to enter. You might win a free signed book. Just go to my FB or Twitter. But it might be polite to stick around and read the post first.
|Not the actual hat. The actual hat will be crocheted|
I’m so happy to be doing this. Why? It’s not a big deal, surely? I have plenty of hats. No, it’s not a big deal in the sense that the prize is a copy of a book that retails at £7.99. But it’s a big deal for me because it’s my New Book. So allow me to be a bit celebratory on here today.
This time last year, when Street Song was on submission, I suffered the usual crippling doubts of the out-of-contract writer. Would an editor like it? Would an editor like it enough to persuade Sales and Marketing?
Happily, an editor did, and I’m very proud that Street Song (published a week today!) is one of the first titles in Edinburgh publisher Black and White’s new Ink Road YA imprint.
Street Song is a riches-to-rags story of secrets and songs; of stages and street-corners. It’s a gritty exposé of exploitation, celebrity and destitution, but it’s also my love-song to music and friendship.
I’ve always loved music, especially singing. But I’d never written about it. I don’t think any of my previous characters so much as picked up a school recorder (though Esther in Still Falling shares my love for early Taylor Swift.)
My own teen years were dominated by an obsessive love for music. I’d save for weeks to afford the latest Echo and the Bunnymen or Big Country album, and then pray that one of the three or four record shops in Belfast would actually stock it. When I left home to go university in 1987, I spent hours recording all those albums onto cassette (sorry: now as an author I appreciate why that was actually illegal) to take with me.
|some of those LPs I'll never throw out|
In my twenties and early thirties I helped run a folk club outside Belfast with a great group of friends. Our club became known as somewhere where people really listened. Even though we couldn’t pay as well as bigger venues, musicians loved playing for us. I also sang in lots of bars with my then-boyfriend (who’s still a musician, I’m happy to say.) It was all very grass roots and real. It was a million miles away from downloads and reality TV and auto-tuners and overnight fame and glitz.
Street Song is about someone who was the opposite of me, a reality talent show winner at seventeen who gets drunk on the glamour and the celebrity and then crashes. It’s about what happens when he wakes up from the hangover and starts to discover music and relationships for real. I hope I’ve managed to convey some of the thrill of making music with people.
And now – I must go and put those names in the hat. Good luck!