Alana’s Mistake

Hi guys,

I just want to let you all know that I am writing a brand new story on Wattpad!

It is a thriller, no less, and a sexy one at that : ) If you liked Gone Girl or Fatal Attraction then you may well love this story.

Please read!

A young, happily married woman has a one-time affair with 
a man who refuses to allow it to end and becomes 
obsessed with her. 

Alana is 22 years old, but she got married at 
16 to her husband Noah, father of her sweet 
little girl Snow. Because they got married so 
young Alana sometimes wonders if she missed 
out on all the fun her friends seemed 
to be having. Noah is the only man she has ever 
really known, that is until she meets 
musician Elias Smith. 

Alana and Elias end up spending a reckless, 
wild weekend together. When it is over Alana 
wants to forget the whole thing and 
return to life with her family. 

But Elias has other ideas. 
He doesn't want it to end. Not when Alana is 
the one woman who has ever made him feel 
something. Elias wants Alana for his own, 
and he will stop at nothing to get her.

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My feelings about Lemonade

My good pals Fran Perbohner and Sophia Fraser told me that I had to watch the visual album, Lemonade by Beyoncé. Sophia is a big time Beyoncé fangirl and they told me to watch it weeks ago. However I never got round to it. I liked and respected Beyoncé a lot (who doesn’t?) but I wasn’t a hardcore fan.

However, yesterday Fran insisted that I watch it and so I did and I told her I would write a blog post expressing my feelings about the album, whether I liked it or not. So here we are. My feelings about Lemonade!

I think I didn’t want to watch it because I had heard that it was about Jay Z cheating on Beyoncé. With them having a little child and it being Beyoncé (the thought that any man could cheat on her is depressing to me), I found that to be off-putting. Which is naughty of me really because I should know, well, I do know that a lot of art, if not all art on a fundamental level, comes from the artist’s experience, their life. But I think in this case it was somehow just too close to home because I already know the characters involved.

You could say Adele does the exact same thing, she writes songs about her own personal heartbreak. And that is raw and wonderful and relatable. However I’m not actually familiar with the guy that dumped Adele, prompting her to write 21. I didn’t really know anything about Adele before that so there were quite a few degrees of separation that made the work safer. Much safer than watching work about a family I already know, admire and support in my own way.

So yeah. I also think it doesn’t help that the initial introduction to Lemonade was in that very tabloid ‘Jay Z cheated’ way – this is how I first heard of it online. Because now I’ve seen the work I would say that the cheating is just one part of it, a catalyst to a much more epic communication that spans history, culture and music.

And that’s the thing that startled me the most when I watched and listened to this album. That from one woman’s personal experience could come an exploration of the entirety of womanhood, the entirety of race, the entirety of a nation. And more!

I have a newfound reverence (not even respect, reverence!) for Beyoncé after this, for a lot of different reasons. She risked something. Possibly almost everything. Her career, her family, a lot of stuff. And she did it anyway. I feel like she knew it would work and I feel like many people thought that it wouldn’t.

But she forged on anyway. She could have gone down in flames, and the unbelievable pressure that it must have put on her family… How do you have that conversation? Husband, I know you cheated on me but I want to make a huge visual album about it. And please can you be in it with me? It’ll be brill, promise!

That’s the thing isn’t it? What I learnt from this album artistically is that it isn’t about the idea. It is about the execution. This is a breath-taking example of someone coming up with an idea and then battling the living daylights out of it. We can all come up with ideas right? …I’m going to make a film about a racing car driver who lives large and dies on the track… I’m going to make a music video featuring girls dressed as tortoises… God, ideas are ten a penny, good, bad, ugly, whatever. But the execution is the thing. Given the time and expertise and passion both those ideas could turn out to be amazing. They could also turn out to be abysmal.

And that’s what Beyoncé embodies. From the original idea of – I’m going to make an album about this pain I feel about my husband cheating, it has grown and grown and grown and grown some more! I knew we weren’t only going to be finding out about Beyoncé’s troubles when imagery of some kind of colonial plantation house came up and we get these unbelievably beautiful images of black women… And that’s just the start. It becomes about more ideas, more music, more references than I can possibly keep up with.

On a personal level it spoke to me in a way that genuinely made me change, like actually change, the way I think of my own life. I wasn’t excited to watch it because it wasn’t a palatable subject matter to me. And I think this is what happens in life. And I think it explains some things that have happened in my own life.

When I went through a difficult time when I had my first son I found that it was hard to have the same ‘appeal’ to other people that I normally had. I felt like there were parts of my life that were no longer interesting to others, in fact they were down right ‘off-putting’ – just as I had described my idea of what this album would be like right?

I wasn’t as easy to be around, as enjoyable to talk to, and I found my circumstances difficult to admit to. I saw that it visibly confused some people to see me not the same as I usually was. This is not a damnation of others, it’s what happens, I’ve done the same myself… But watching that album made me realise that it is ok to have times in your life where things go wrong, where the screen goes blank and the unthinkable happens.

It’s ok because life is this adventure and if I avoid life then maybe, yes I won’t have to experience these things. And maybe if Beyoncé had not become an international singer and married Jay Z and had a beautiful child, then she would not have had to go through the pain of world famous adultery. But I don’t think that she would have it any other way, and that inspires me to think the same about my own life. So thank you Beyoncé, for that. And thank you to my pals Sophia and Fran for making sure I saw it!

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Whiplash

This weekend I watched one of those films that is so memorable I’m still mulling it over days later, and I’m telling my closest friends that they just have to watch it. The film is Whiplash, and it is about a young guy who attends an elite music school in New York. He’s a jazz drummer and he wants to be the best in the world. He doesn’t just want it, he really wants it.

Like, he doesn’t have much of a life, at all, apart from his dad and his music. He just wants to be the best, friends take up too much time and judging from the other students in his school nobody would want to be friends with them anyway. He’s quiet, and cute and he practices his drums a lot.

There’s this conductor/teacher who leads the top ensemble in the school and our guy is invited in. He’s thrilled to have the opportunity… Then all sorts of stuff ensues (to cut a long and complex story short). I won’t spoil it for you, if you haven’t seen it. Let’s just say the story is about being pushed to one’s artistic limits… the complexities of artisitic greatness, what that is and how it comes about.

It’s one of those films that leaves you feeling like you’ve been punched in the stomach, in a good way. I relate to it on quite a few different levels. Firstly the guy and his desire to be the best in his field. I was never so focused as he is at his age. If I were in New York at the same stage in my life, suffice it to say I would not have spent the time in my room practicing… But at this age I am at now – 36 – I can completely and utterly relate to his devotion to his craft.

It has always been there for me, that I wanted to write and that I wanted to be really, really good at it – great at it. I’ve always written but I’ve always lived too, which I would say, in hindsight, is actually a large part of writing. The living. The adventures I’ve had, good and bad, inform my writing now. For me at that age, I could not have had the maturity and deeper understanding of life, people and situations necessary to write very well.

These days I am much more like the character in the film. It’s like all roads have led to this point and now I am more than happy to spend hours and hours and days and weeks and months and years… devoted to my craft. Great story-telling has developed into something of an obsession, because I finally feel like that’s all right. I can spend my minutes doing that, because it is what I am here to do. And it doesn’t matter who would prefer me to be doing something else, or the fact that it is in no way financially viable. I believe that it will be, one day soon.

So yeah, I relate to the drummer. I relate to his willingness to sacrifice for greatness. One of the visual motifs of the film is him drumming so hard and so long his fingers are actually bleeding. His drums get covered in blood. And the first reaction could be, ew, that’s gross. And it is. And it’s what I thought. But then I remind myself that I might not have outright bled at the keyboard but I have bled in my own way, in a different way.

I could have been doing a million things that are much easier and far more lucrative than writing a book. I have a baby who I love with all my heart. I need to raise that baby, feed him, clothe him and give him the best possible start in life that I can give him, that is the most important thing to me. Things got real when I suddenly had a child in my life. The stakes raised but instead of running from writing I turned to it and the pressure of parenthood has pushed me along more than any other experience I’ve ever had.

I also relate to the conductor, despite the fact that he is a grade A jerkass. He pushes his students to breaking point and it is really quite ridiculous the lengths he goes to. I’m in no way condoning abuse however he says he’s doing it to get the best out of his musicians. And on a more humane level, looking at it metaphorically, it makes me think of again of pressure. That’s how diamonds are formed, right?

Without pressure I find it harder to produce the work I’m proud of. I need pressure. Now, I seek it out. I gain pressure from, like I said, the pure necessity of looking after another small person. The need to provide for him and his future. The need to ensure that he is never ever left without the resources he needs to lead a decent and fulfilling life. I gain pressure from the desire to lead the life I’ve always wanted, to actually live the life I always believed was possible.

I know from experience that this life can come to an end. An abrupt, unexpected end. It can seem like we live in this comfortable world where everything is A-OK most of the time and there’s all this stuff around us that makes it seem easy and makes us feel content. But the fact is that it can all end, in a moment. And there are things in the world that are very much worth fighting for. Other people, perhaps in places far away from us, that need us to be the best we can be so that we can create the resources to help them. I think of all this, and it makes fingers hit the keyboard.

I also relate to the director whose name I don’t even know, but by watching this film I have a certain understanding of who they are. And I feel like they have mirrored the artistic rise and perfectionism of the young drummer in the film itself, by making it one of those rare pieces of film-making that live in your heart for a long, long time.

 

 

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Rambling into microphones

I’ve been doing a few press interviews lately which has been quite fun. Its quite a strange thing to have to suddenly talk to other people about my writing. I get so used to planning and writing it all out in my little bubble, complete with a sky view that I can stare at quietly alongside plenty cups of tea – alone at my desk – with my husband cruelly silenced in the other room.

Suddenly injecting other people into the scene, especially ones with microphones asking questions, well, its a whole new ball game. Just a few days ago I went down to East Coast FM which is my local radio station. I had literally called them the day before to tentatively ask if they would like to talk to a local writer – the guy who answered Jim Anderson was actually on air at the time (albeit on a music break) and he told me straight off that I should come down. I suspect he was quite desperate for guests but nevertheless I dutifully showed up for 10am, as requested.

The station broadcasts from a lovely local market town called Haddington which I always enjoy visiting. Once there they plied me with cups of tea and we chatted about all sorts of things. A wee while later I was thrust on air behind a big microphone (why are microphones so terrifying?) being asked lots of questions about Dovetail Diaries and my life as a writer. It was actually fun, to be able to talk to this friendly radio host and pretend no one else was there. Of course, I made sure I gave a hearty shout out to my Mum and my friend Fran. I knew I had at least two people listening. Saying that I found out later my Mum had actually tuned out thinking the interview was done by that point, oh dear.

I was also interviewed for a very cool blog last week which is devoted to music and fashion. I got to ramble on here about my music taste, even listing out 5 songs I would recommend to go with each of my books. Funnily enough also on the radio they asked me which songs I would like to play during the intervals of the interview. We ended up with Muse’s Hysteria, Phil Collins In the Air Tonight and a song by David Bowie. I thought that was pretty cool for a community morning show, hopefully it woke up all the local Grannies.

Read the interview on ‘The Juliet Blog’ HERE

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object of terror – from http://inevitablesarcasm.tumblr.com/

 

Music & Writing

For me music and writing go hand in hand. When I write I love nothing more than to listen to music. Somehow music can reach right into my soul, lightening quick. I admire musicians possibly more than any other artist firstly because it is something I don’t do myself therefore it has an even more mysterious quality. Sometimes I just plain wonder, how the hell did they come up with that?

I used to listen to a very special musician called Wendy Carlos on an obsessive basis some years ago. I still listen to her sometimes and for some reason she’s back in my thoughts again. She’s a pioneer composer, a master of the moog synthesizer, a wonderful gentle person and someone who takes music production to new heights. I can’t listen to Wendy without feeling that life has the possibility to turn to magic.

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