Tag Archives: Ellen Wilber

… and rock ‘n’ roll

This week we’ve mentioned the sex, and the alcohol. That leaves the rock ‘n’ roll. Wine, women and song. All bad stuff.

There’s so much music in novels these days. Perhaps there always was, and I’ve been deaf and blind. Adrian McKinty (yes, him again) puts lots of music in his books. Sergeant Duffy listens to a wide repertoire. He’s a bit of a show-off, that Duffy.

In Adrian’s YA novel The Lighthouse Keepers, which I’ve read but not yet reviewed, the young main character raves about music. Not so sure he’s not too precocious in his musical taste, but never mind.

Might be an Irish thing? When I first ran into John Connolly – outside the Ladies, before an event, and before he knew who I was – he pressed a CD into my hands. I gather he listens to a selection of music each time he writes a book, and those tracks end up belonging to that particular novel.

I added John’s favourites to my iTunes, and every time a track I can’t identify pops up on shuffle, I can be certain it’s one of his. I only added the CD because it contained a Lee Hazlewood track. I used to be a great fan.

A Jodi Picoult novel from a couple of years ago also included a CD. I passed the book and CD on to someone else, while making sure I put the tracks into iTunes first. I like them a lot.

It can be inspiring having an author’s choice of music for when you read. But what if you don’t like the music that helped them write? If every time the characters play their favourite tracks, you just can’t stand the music? Would you rather do without it?

Rather like when you find out which actor inspired someone’s character. If it’s the ‘wrong’ actor, you’ll have to quickly re-imagine them as someone you’d prefer. (Nobody tell me their heroine was inspired by that Keira woman! I’d have to burn your book.)

Music is an age thing, too. Adrian – again – is the wrong age for me. He doesn’t pick the music I listen to, nor the stuff forced on me – I mean, made available to me – by Offspring. I have a whole decade, that’s been almost completely blacked out. (When Son did a GCSE project on a decade in pop music, he was given the 1980s. Naturally. And we could offer no help.)

It’s not only the music behind a book, or the albums enjoyed by a fictional character. The whole book can be based on music. Obviously. Recently Son translated extracts from a couple of music based novels written by a Norwegian author. That was 20,000 words featuring an opera and all the backstage stuff. Luckily it was a made-up opera, so it ended up being less of a fact checking nightmare.

And we get YA books about pop groups, and wannabes. With the current talent programme epidemic on television we will probably end up with many more of them. It beats vampires, though.

Although having said that, I seem to recall that one of Anne Rooney’s vampires played in a band.

And Elvis lives.


Jodi Picoult – with bells on

Jaime with Ellen Wilber and Jodi Picoult

Hodder's Jaime and WHS staff

Apart from the fact that Hodder’s Jaime, who’s as beautiful as I’d been told, thought I was virtually at death’s door, it was fine. I just said she’d have to scrape me off the floor at the Arndale’s WHS branch if I wasn’t up to it. So, another lovely PR person from Hodder, in other words. But that’s not why I have a photo of her back. It just happened.

Queue for Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult was back in town on Friday, and I simply had to pop along to see what length queue she’d generate this time. Pretty long. I gather the first people turned up two hours before Jodi’s signing, and the queue was tripling back on itself when I got there with 30 minutes to spare. I wormed my way in past the security guy and found friendly and helpful staff, who not only put me in my place (a good corner from which to observe the proceedings), but offered to hide my large bag.

Sing You Home at WHS, Manchester Arndale

It’s there, under the display of books. (I’d like to think the tulips were in my honour.) Copies of Sing You Home were selling like hotcakes, which is good news.

Ellen Wilber

Jodi’s latest novel is about the lives of same-sex families, and it comes with a CD. The soundtrack has the songs sung by one of the women in the book. Jodi’s good friend Ellen Wilber wrote the songs and also sings them on the CD, which I’ve been listening to since I got home. I like it. Ellen has a fantastic voice.

I was my normal confused self and totally forgot that Ellen was coming to the signing as well, so spent a few minutes wondering who on earth the woman sitting next to Jodi could be. The penny dropped eventually. I suppose the pile of CDs being handed out was a clue. But I had sort of hoped she’d stand up and sing there and then.

Ellen Wilber and Jodi Picoult

It was like last year; adoring fans, cameras at the ready, a charming toddler and a cute baby. People with birthdays, high-fives for fans, and a man who wasn’t two-timing the two women he got books signed for. Jodi asked. Two ‘excited girls’ were permitted extra squeals and even got hugs. Someone else was known to Jodi on Twitter.

The queue seemed never-ending. I went for a little walk and it was still a double line 45 minutes in. But, as so often happens, it melted away suddenly and I had to quickly find my own copy from under the tulips.

Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home

Jodi Picoult

I have to say the tiara looked very fetching. Not everyone can carry off the wearing of tiaras in the middle of the day, in the middle of the Arndale. Personally I wouldn’t even try. But there you are.

And apparently Jodi’s in need of a jester’s hat…

(All photos by the Bookwitch herself. Which explains a lot.)