I was tagged in this meme by Matt Merritt and I’ve used “Yellow Torchlight and the Blues” to answer these questions, simply because it made more sense to refer to an available book rather than a future collection which may not be available for a while.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
A gathering of poems loosely around the theme of performance. Some of the performances are obvious: the singer on stage. But it also looks at the performances made by individuals to conform to, for example, conventions of society or expectations of parents and what happens when those are frustrated. One poem looks at the reactions to an autistic boy who wants to play alone, another a man talking to a person who is no longer there as he struggles in a new, unwelcome role of widower, another a young women dealing with unwanted attention and a sequence, “A Life in 14 Moves” looks at a young man’s struggle with attitudes, particularly his mother’s, to his mental illness. He’s also a performer in a band.
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Although a lot of the poems are based on monologues or character studies of individuals, I hadn’t pictured actors in the roles. There are a variety of voices: child, teenaged, woman, man and moods: resigned, strong, alienated, despairing, determined to fight back. Some poems, “We’re told we don’t deserve you”, “After the Gig”, “Absence”, require an actor who can convey a rock star quality like Hugh Jackman or Tom Cruise.
Others, “Using French knots for Bluebells”, “Like a Child forming itself finger by finger in the dark”, “Julie”, “Free Champagne in St Petersburg” would suit Chloe Moretz or Kristen Prout.
Kirsten Stewart could capture the yearning, angst and abandonment in “From Leicester to Planet X”.
David Bowie would have to perform “Interview with a Popstar” (read the poem to find out why.) and perhaps Courtney Love could read “Courtney Love’s first interview after becoming a widow” or Kim Gordon “When I open my mouth to sing, I’m bigger.”
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
These poems explore the attractive-destructive glitter of the music business via city streets where people exist on the edge of life pervaded by menace, allusive and darkly perceptive.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Individually the poems were written over a sixteen year period, however, at that stage they were written with the hope that one day they’d be collected into a book rather than with the intention they would go in “Yellow Torchlight and the Blues”. Gathering together poems or short stories for a collection is a different process to writing a novel. With a novel, you know what the book is about before you start, at least in terms of major characters and themes or issues, and writing the manuscript supplies the detail to the bigger picture. With a collection, you start with the details and have to work out the bigger picture the pieces combine to make. You might then find that some of the pieces aren’t quite the right shape or don’t fit so then need to make decisions about leaving them out or re-writing.
It took less than a month to decide which poems should go in once the offer of the publication of a collection was received.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I write to explore different personas and what motivates others to behave the way they do. It’s an opportunity to perform on a page. Ironically I’m not a natural performer – I’d rather give you my poems to read rather than stand on stage and read them to you.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
What links David Bowie, a jazz pub in Bristol, Danielle Steel’s son, Philip K Dick watching “Blade Runner” with allusions to Sylvia Plath and the-crowds-have-left aloneness of a plectrum abandoned on a pock-marked floor?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It was published by Original Plus.
Look out for the same questions answered by:
I’ve also asked three other writers if they’d like to get involved but have had no response from them so far.
By Emma Lee