Hi and welcome to #MusicMonday! Originally hosted on The Tattooed Book Geek where every Monday Drew shares a song he loves, I hope he doesn’t mind me messing up his format… But it’s Monday and it’s #Orentober and it had to be done… Kinda? Well no not really, I just felt like doing this 😁
Without further ado, meet Louise Voss, author of The Old You and The Last Stage:
Hi Louise, welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove! Thanks for joining me today! How are you?
I am EXCELLENT, thank you. Mostly because I just got engaged ? (Which probably means that I won’t get any writing at all done over the next year – wedmin ahoy!)
That’s wonderful, congratulations!! Although I do hope you’ll get some writing done too ? I asked you over for a little Music Monday Q&A because I have a feeling you have a thing for music, after all The Last Stage’s main character is the star of a former successful indie 90s band. Do you really have a thing for music, or did you fool me?
No, I really do. Particularly 70’s/80’s music trivia, about which I’m a total nerd. I always play along with Popmaster on Radio 2 and although I think I’ve only got all the questions right once, I usually know most of the answers (not that I ever want to actually compete – I’m sure my mind would go blank and I’d score about 3 points). I used to work in the music business before I became a writer, and my first published novel, TO BE SOMEONE back in 2001, was also about an ex-pop star.
Did you have a singer or a band in mind when you wrote The Last Stage?
Originally I wanted THE LAST STAGE to be a kind of sequel to TO BE SOMEONE, with the same main character, but once I started writing it, the characters of Meredith and Helena before her felt so different that I changed my mind, and changed the band. I didn’t base my fictional band Cohen on any specific actual group, although in my head I was thinking, because they all met in a squat, of a sort of indie/crusty/goth band a bit like a more hip version of The Levellers, or a less cool version of The Cure.
Do you remember the song / band that made you fall in love with music?
I remember being given one of those Greatest Hits albums in the 70s when I was 7 or 8, and being very clear about which songs I loved and which I didn’t like at all. Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks made me realise the emotional power of a sentimental song – man, I cried my eyes out listening to that one. Blackberry Way by The Move was a favourite because it was so anthemic, and I still love it to this day. And there was Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando & Dawn, which was great storytelling song form, and that dreadful Peter Sarstedt dirge Where Do You Go To My Lovely. You can see my pre-teen musical tastes definitely veered towards the cheesy! Absolutely no street cred whatsoever yet. Things did improve as I get older…
Well I sincerely hope so, Louise! What is your favourite band? Are they your favourite genre too, or are they the exception to the rule?
It wasn’t till my 14th birthday, when I first went to see The Cure, that I really fell in love with a band, and I’ve loved them ever since. I recently tried to add up the number of times I’ve seen them in concert over the years and lost count at 25…. I was never a Goth though, and wasn’t particularly into anything else from that genre. I loved The Clash and The Jam (my second-favourite band) too and saw both of them a good few times before they broke up.
Any favourite songs by The Cure, The Jam and The Clash?
Ummm….. favourite Cure song – tough to pick one but probably Just Like Heaven. The Clash, London Calling and The Jam has to be Going Underground.
Do you sing, or do you play an instrument?
I do – I sing in a big choral society, as well as (occasionally) with a couple of covers band as a backing singer. I don’t like being in the spotlight, but I love being in a band. I also do some stuff as a duo; a friend on guitar and vocals, me on ukulele and harmonies. And I’m in a big local ukulele band, The Salisbury Pluckers, which is great fun.
And as I type this, the piano tuner is next door working on the old piano that I was given the other week. I used to play as a teenager and can’t wait to take it up again.
What song have you played on repeat the most? What is it about this song that speaks to you?
Good question. Probably Ben Folds’ Landed. Thinking about it, it pretty much contains all the elements of the songs I loved in the 70s – great lyrics with a story behind them, gorgeously catchy tune, hugely emotional. Love it. I used to work with Ben Folds Five when I lived in NYC in the 90s and worked at Caroline Records, so I’ve always had a soft spot for them. I brought them to England for their first ever gigs here.
Wow, that’s awesome! Would you rather keep listening to the music you know and never listen to anything new, or would you prefer only new music and never listening to what you already know? And why?Another good question! I’ve recently been thinking about how unadventurous I’ve become in terms of seeking out new stuff that I like. I used to do it loads, but more and more I find myself falling back on playlists from the 70s/80s/90s, mostly rock or indie. I reckon it must be my age! That said, I discovered a few new artists I like. Billie Eilish, The Leisure Society, Guster (the latter two not new bands, but new to me)
As a rule, I cannot STAND most new chart music. Again, it’s my age…
How important is music in your writing process? Do you listen to music while you’re writing?
Yes, all the time. Spotify playlists, mostly. Sometimes choral stuff for a change.
Do you have a playlist per book? Songs that set the mood for certain scenes?
No, I don’t think it through that much. I would spend far too much time putting them together and it would just become a massive displacement activity. That said, my first novel TO BE SOMEONE was, I think, the first book to ever come with its own compilation soundtrack, because each chapter heading was a song title, what my main character Helena was listening to at that time, as she looks back over her life. Virgin Records put it out on CD, and it was in HMV and Our Price in the film soundtrack section – it was cool! I still love listening to it too, although when I updated, reissued and self-published the novel, I did change the soundtrack a bit to reflect the updated timeline. It’s now a Spotify playlist too.
If you had to pick a title song for your book(s), what song(s) would you choose?
Well, TO BE SOMEONE is a Jam song, and is also on the soundtrack to the book, so that’s an easy one. Some years later Mark Edwards and I wrote a novel called THE BLISSFULLY DEAD (sequel to FROM THE CRADLE) which is a phrase from the Cure song “Lullaby” – Mark is also a massive Cure fan and we once not only went to see the band in concert as our ‘staff’ Christmas outing but also made our fictional detective Lennon a fan too ? So Lullaby would definitely be the song for that one.
I was trying to think which songs could represent THE LAST STAGE and my previous novel, THE OLD YOU and was struggling – until Sinatra’s My Way popped into my head. I reckon that would do for both books, as both protagonists have to trust their own intuition to get them out of some very sticky situations. Not, I hasten to add, because I listened to it a lot when I was writing them!
I can totally see that! Tell me, Louise, what does the future bring?
I have a couple of ideas to work on, and will hopefully be doing a collaboration with someone else in the next year or so. Nothing concrete at the moment though, just focussing on enjoying life. Writing the last two books was like pulling teeth, so I want to make sure the next thing I write will be something I really love doing.
I’m sorry to hear that but they’re brilliant books though! Thanks so much for joining me today, Louise, and enjoy enjoying life!
Thanks for having me, it’s been great fun to think about this musical stuff!