I love reading about authors discussing music. I’m always fascinated to see how it fits into their writing process and into the stories themselves. Today Charlie Cochrane talks music and inspiration.
As I type this I’ve got music on in the background. In this instance, it’s The Band and Bugles of the Rifles, but the previous CD I listened to featured The Beach Boys and the next could quite easily be by anyone from Led Zeppelin to Luciano Pavarotti. For me there are two types of music – the sort you want to listen to and the sort you don’t. All the other labels aren’t that helpful. Do I like Country & Western? No. But I do like both Jonny Cash and Dolly Parton. Do I like rock? Yes, but not all of it. You get the idea.
Music is extremely evocative for me. If I hear “Nutrocker” I’m back on holiday in Margate, at the amusement arcade. “House of the Rising Sun” makes me think of my dad getting us lost on a walk the back end of beyond. “Blinded by the Light” is university days. And in each case it isn’t just a memory – I can see, hear, almost smell what it was like to be there. Clearly the music makes connections in my sub-conscious brain and opens some pod of memory.
There are writing connections, too. There are a couple of Maroon 5 tracks from “Songs about Jane” that are inextricably linked in my mind with churning out Horatio/Archie Hornblower fanfic. Was I listening to them at the time? I must have been, but I must also have been listening to loads of other stuff, so why those in particular? I have no answer to this – anybody else get that phenomenon and know why it happens? I’d love to find out.
There’s a heavy musical influence to “In the Spotlight”, over and above the obvious link to Chicago and the wonderful music and lyrics of Kander and Ebb. Shakespeare’s work is full of music; remember that wonderful “Twelfth Night” on television that featured the music of Paul McCartney? Possibly the most evocative is Rufus Wainwright’s fantastic rendition of the sonnet “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes” – that piece has inspired a lot of stories in my mind, not least because Shakespeare wrote it about a bloke, as he did all his early sonnets.
The first 17 are all along the lines of, “You are so gorgeous, get married and have children for pity’s sake and then everyone will be happy!” Things change in the story at Sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”) where it seems Will has forgotten he’s supposed to be persuading the man to reproduce himself and just praises his beauty and how much the man’s love means for him. That makes it all the more poignant when we get to Sonnet 33 where we find out that the young man has betrayed him in some way, but old Will is still besotted and pours out forgiveness. Had he always harboured feelings for his subject that were more than friendship and he couldn’t help letting that fact shine through his words?
We simply don’t know, but as a writer of gay romantic fiction, this sort of stuff is meat and drink to me. Those words, combined with a musical accompaniment, just gets my fingers itching to write. “If music be the food of love, play on.” It’s certainly the food of writing.
In the Spotlight – two stories by Charlie Cochrane
All That Jazz
Francis Yardley may be the high kicking star of an all-male version of Chicago, but bitter, and on the booze after the breakdown of a relationship, he thinks that the chance for true love has passed him by. A handsome, shy rugby player called Tommy seems to be the answer to his problems, but Tommy doesn’t like the lipstick and lace. Can they find a way forward and is there still a chance for happiness “nowadays”?
If Music Be
Rick Cowley finds himself taking up am-dram once more, thinking it’ll help him get over the death of his partner. He’d never anticipated it would mean an encounter with an old flame and the sort of emotional complications the Bard would have revelled in. Still, old Will had the right word for every situation, didn’t he?
Bio and links
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Romances, mysteries, sometimes historical and occasionally hysterical. Rumours that she has written about weresloths are true.
Charlie’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, and regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.
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