Music in my Life: An interview I did on @Audrinasplace

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Me at Ardroil Beach, Isle of Lewis

Some time last year, I did an interview with Audrina Lane from Audrina’s Place. The interview was about music that has been important to me in my life. I had an emotional time choosing the songs, and it was difficult to limit myself, but here are the questions and answers, and the links to some of my favourite songs of all time.

I can’t believe I haven’t got Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight in there (Oops, I now have!)

But back to the interview: here’s Audrina’s first question:

~”Do you remember the first record/tape/cd that you bought? Why this one? Does it bring back memories I’d love to know?”~

The first record I bought was a Top of the Pops one from Woolworths. The songs were sung by tribute artists and so the records were cheap. I can remember the songs Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina and Yes Sir, I can Boogie on that record. I sat alone in the playroom and sang, and dreamed, to the music. It reminds me of my own young boys singing along to their ‘NOW’ CDs in the early 2000s.

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Me aged about 16 (with siblings!)

Here’s Baccara with Yes Sir, I can Boogie! LISTEN to Baccara: Yes Sir, I can Boogie

 

~”Is there a song that could be the theme tune of your life or your personality? Is there a song that is the theme tune for any of your characters lives?”~

U2’s Drowning Man is the theme tune to my first novel, The Last Time We Saw Marion. I was originally going to call the book The Drowning Man when I wrote the first draft in 1989. (Yes, it was more than 20 years before I began working on it again!) In This Heart, sung by Sinead O’Connor, is the theme tune of my latest book, Sea Babies.  

LISTEN to Sinead O’Connor: In This Heart

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Own artwork

As for my own life, oh I don’t know… there are so many brilliant, powerful and moving songs! But if I’m pushed I’ll go with Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, as it once made me cry in a nightclub and my older sister asked me what I was crying for. Years later I sang it to her in hospital the day before she died. It feels so potent and spiritual and powerful, and it still makes me cry.

 

LISTEN to Led Zeppelin: Stairway to Heaven

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Own artwork

~”In your books do your main characters have favourite songs or musicians?”~

In my new novel Sea Babies, the young Lauren is in love with Ted Neeley – who played Jesus in Jesus Christ, Superstar. She loves all the songs in the show. But her favourite is probably I Don’t know How to Love Him

LISTEN to Yvonne Elliman: I Don’t Know How to Love Him

~”If you’re romantically involved, or have been in the past. Do you have an “Our Song” one that takes you back to a certain moment? Do any of your characters have a song?”~

One particular song I can think of is Afterglow by Genesis. 

LISTEN to Genesis: Afterglow

This song reminds me of my first true love, with whom I lived for five and a half years. His ex. had written out and illustrated the lyrics for him. I was jealous of this piece of artwork. Listening to Genesis always takes me back. My first husband and his twin brother were Neil Young fans. I cry every time I hear Neil Young’s My Boy, which we played at our sons’ naming ceremony.

LISTEN to Neil Young: My Boy

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Video-still image of my oldest son aged 6 months

(My boys are aged 28, 26 and 24 now and my daughter is 20!) 

 

~”When did you decide to write your first novel? Tell me a bit about the inspiration, process and of course the book.”~

I’ve been trying to write novels since I was ten, but the first draft of the first novel I got published was written when I was an Art student in 1989. It was partially inspired by U2’s song Drowning Man from the album War. I was mad about U2 at the time and I was once the only member of the audience in the cinema at an afternoon showing of the U2 film Rattle and Hum. I lived in a flat on my own after the breakup of my long term relationship and I played records and listened to the radio, and had no television, and wrote many short stories, poems and that first draft of the novel. Here is Drowning Man – best listened to at top volume! :

LISTEN to U2: Drowning Man


~”Do you write to music or prefer silence. Do you think that music can inspire a scene or feeling within your writing and your characters story?”~

I would love to write to music but I find I become so engrossed in the music that I forget to write so I tend to have to write in silence. But music most certainly inspires scenes, emotions and indeed whole books of my writing. Whenever I hear Suzanne Vega’s Marlene on the Wall –  

LISTEN to Suzanne Vega: Marlene on the Wall – 

I now think of Cal and Sarah and Marianne from The Last Time We Saw Marion; sitting in Strawbs bar in Leeds, when they’ve just met, because I have that coming over the speakers in the book.

I’ve already mentioned The Drowning Man and In This Heart inspiring two of my novels. I think The Eliza Doll is strongly Genesis-themed. Rebecca in Another Rebecca sings a folk song called She Moved through the Fair. Here again sung by Sinead O’Connor: 

LISTEN to Sinead O’Connor: She Moved through the Fair

~”What song would you like played at your funeral and why?”~

 

I think it’s exceedingly important to know what you want played at your funeral! Undertow by Genesis will be my choice. My sister bought me the album And Then there were Three for my 18th or 19th birthday so it reminds me of her. I also wrote an essay about this song for my English A’level! (I got a B.) 

LISTEN to Genesis: Undertow

Stand up to the blow that fate has struck upon you
Make the most of all you still have coming to you.
Lay down on the ground and let the tears run from you
Crying to the grass and trees and heaven finally on your knees
Let me live again, let life come find me wanting.
Spring must strike again against the shield of winter.
Let me feel once more the arms of love surround me
Telling me the danger’s past. I need not fear the icy blast again.”

 

Finally: anyone got a hanky? These three are also emotional for me, in happy and sad ways. 

~”What are your Top 3 Songs of all Time? The ones you can’t live without?”~

This is SO hard because music has seen me through the best and the worst times of my life and it feels almost impossible to pick only three. So I’m going to pick one for aspiration and hope, one for a sad time and one for a joyful time.

Hope is Nanci Griffiths singing From a Distance:

LISTEN to Nanci Griffith: From a Distance

From a distance

Own artwork 

The sad time is after I’d lost my baby in 1984, the song is from the band Audience, singing You’re Not Smiling:

LISTEN to Audience: You’re Not Smiling

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Own artwork


For Joyful, I’m going to go with Des’ree, You Gotta Be (Love will save the Day). This song reminds me of my oldest son’s Year 6 leaving ceremony. It was a class of only 17 children and he felt nervous about standing on the stage, singing this song with the rest of his classmates. But I told him to keep his head up, keep looking at me and to keep a smile on his face and he did. Obviously listening to it makes me cry, but in a good way!

LISTEN to Des’ree: You Gotta Be (Love Will Save the Day

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Own artwork

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a trip down musical Memory Lane with me, and also visual Memory Lane with these few examples of my artwork. Thanks once again to  Audrina’s Place for  inviting me!

Holly Bidgood – portrait of a young author by Lana Christon (@Authorpa44)

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Holly Bidgood is the author of The Eagle and the Oystercatcher. Holly enjoyed writing from a young age, but it wasn’t until she was 18, and after a fleeting visit to the Faroe Islands that Icelandic culture and history began to influence her work. Now living in a community in Scotland with her husband and two young children, her values of community and creativity are clear within her writing. (Learn more about Camphill Community towards the end of this post.)

Though she grew up in Derbyshire, Holly has always had a love for and been drawn to the sea, and this only furthered her interest in Iceland. So much so that she went on to study – and graduate with a First Class Honours Degree – Icelandic at University College London and at the University of Iceland where she learnt the Icelandic language. She developed her interest in Nordic cinema, literature, and culture, which is very clear in her first novel.

From her time in countries such as Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands (where her first novel is set), Holly says that landscape, wilderness, and closeness to the elements influence her writing. The Eagle and the Oystercatcher features all these themes but also the themes of friendship, loss, and social change during the 1940s. The Eagle and the Oystercatcher was released at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on the 23rd August, 2016. A five star review on her GoodReads page calls the book ‘Beautifully written, with a captivating story.’

Holly values community and creativity, as she herself lives in a Camphill Community, in a shared house with her husband, two very young children and five adults with special needs. With 23 centres across the UK, the community includes schools and colleges, where individual abilities and qualities are recognised and nurtured as the foundation for a fulfilling life. They also specialise in helping those with learning disabilities, however they state that they see no difference between the carer and the cared-for.

The Camphill founding values have a spiritual core of essential humanity, and each of the residents has a unique destiny to fulfil. This ethos has been at the heart of the Camphill Movement from the moment it was set up in 1940, expressing these values through building communities that ‘preserve and promote the dignity and potential of each member, with Camphill being a life choice, not a placement. It feels a perfect fit for Holly and her family.

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Holly’s debut novel ‘The Eagle and the Oystercatcher’ is available on Amazon and in various bookstores now.

From The Eagle and the Oystercatcher

In April 1940, two British Destroyers sail into the harbour at Tórshavn. From that point onwards the lives of the Faroe Islanders are irrevocably altered. Eighteen-year-old Kjartan blames the war for taking away the last remaining member of his family. At the same time he struggles with intense feelings for his best friend Orri. While they puzzle over the true identity of the herbalist who lives on the spiky slopes of the islet Tindhólmur, miraculous recoveries of the sick begin taking place all over the islands.
There is one person above all others that Kjartan and Orri wish to be made well again, but when this finally seems to be happening, the war deals them its cruellest blow yet.
Peopled by a cast of characters worthy of Dickens, The Eagle and The Oystercatcher resonates with the evocative bleakness of the Faroe Islands, coloured by rain and snow. With her skilful writing, the author adeptly conveys the everyday details of the islanders’ lives.

‘The destroyers were bigger than any manmade thing I had ever seen, and I was gripped by a shivering sense of dread to think that man could assemble something so large and commandeering; that man should feel the need to. They dwarfed our little fishing boats into primitive insignificance – their masts now matchsticks, their sails tissue paper – and they did not just fill the vision, these cold-blooded destroyers, they grasped the soul.
Destroyer: that was the day I learnt that English word, and I remembered it instantly. Magnus’s English was limited – the little he knew he had picked up from trading with Scotland – but even he knew that word. He spoke it with a fragile caution, as though the sounds themselves might be dangerous, and the typical Faroese spin on the letter ‘R’ rolled off his tongue, through his beard and into the cool, dense air. Orri and I watched it curiously, that snippet of new knowledge, opening up a world that even then seemed dark and confusing. We could see no reason to trust it.’

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Buy The Eagle and the Oystercatcher here

Here’s a tantalising snippet from Holly’s second, as yet unpublished novel set in Greenland:

‘We cut small pieces of the whale’s nourishing skin and chewed contentedly, savouring the goodness of this mattak: I could taste it now, feel its toughness between my teeth. Never before had I tasted it so fresh.
The world around us had fallen into a tranquil stillness, serenity in the wake of a life taken, a struggle ended. The only sound was that of our voices and laughter, carried upwards and lost in the vastness of the broken pack ice and the blue, empty sky. My cheeks stung pink from the cold.
I had feared that the son of a white man would find no solace with those whose arctic blood ran pure. But at that moment I knew who my people were. If only it could have lasted; if only I could have stayed forever in that most wonderful, archaic of places where each life draws sustenance from another and the world moves in harmony.
If only I had not had to return home to find my own mother – loveless, lovelorn stranger – sprawled, like the narwhal, on the cold floor. Intoxicated to the eyeballs she stared at nothing, for her eyes were clouded over and her body lay lifeless. This creature did not speak to me of graceful, ancient beauty.’

Holly describes her writing progress at the moment as “spectacularly slow” due to her work in the community and her two toddlers, but she’s determined to finish her second novel and send it out into the world to join the first. We shall just have to wait with bated breath!

Follow Holly Bidgood on Twitter:Holly Bidgood

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