It’s launch day on the blog tour for Being Netta Wilde, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources.
I have a guest post to share by Hazel Ward, the author…
I choose music with my words.
Popular music has always played a part in my life. There are songs that have been lodged in my memory for a long time. Not necessarily ones I’d choose to listen to, but that doesn’t make them any less special. Que Sera Sera, an old Doris Day hit, immediately transports me back to my mother singing it when ironing. My dad’s favoured singalong was a traditional one called The German Clockmaker. Quite racy for its time, I believe. He had a habit of singing it when drunk. I’m smiling now at the thought of my younger self rolling my eyes as he belted it out in the middle of a crowded pub.
Similarly, To be Young Gifted and Black fills me with joy every time I hear it because it conjures up memories of watching my older sisters and their friends dancing to it in our living room. T Rex, David Bowie and Roxy Music opened up my world. Then punk, new wave, soul and indie.
You’re probably thinking I’d gone off into my own little music love cave just then and you’d be right. But I bet some of you came with me. I bet some of you were remembering that music too. Okay, maybe not The German Clockmaker. That’s a bit specialist. Or perhaps you took a walk down your own musical memory lane? My point is, popular music has probably provided a backdrop to your life. It will have been there through the good, bad, sad and in-between bits and just the mention of a song can take you back to those times. Whether you know it or not, defining moments in your life will be forever anchored in certain songs or certain kinds of music and when they pop up in a story, it amplifies your connection to it.
The other thing about music is that it’s pretty good at marking out an era. For instance, the 1950s was all about rock and roll, right? The 1960s was the Beatles, mods, hippies and flower power. The seventies? Glam rock and punk. I won’t go on, but you get my drift. That’s why there are plenty of pop references in my stories. They add authenticity and depth. They might even spark a memory or a feeling in you that brings the story closer to your heart.
In my view, knowing a character’s musical tastes helps us readers get to know them better. Annette Grey’s musical choices paint a picture of the person she used to be and the person she still is, underneath the awkward introvert she’s become. When her musical allegiances were being formed, punk was already long gone but she was a punk, all the same. Why? Because it was different, and so was she. When she meets her future husband, Colin, his tastes are the opposite of hers but as an older man, he appears to be The Clash’s biggest fan. Why is that? Annette has a theory but you’ll need to read the book to find out what it is.
Then there’s Annette’s parents. They can’t resist dancing like a couple of arthritic teenagers when they hear Twist and Shout. Despite their age, the music of their youth still moves them. Who knows, maybe it takes them back to a special moment in their lives.
So, we’ve circled back round to music’s ability to unlock something in us. There are times when that happens to Annette and I want to share one of them with you. Annette is in a grotty old pub with her neighbour, Frank and they’ve had a few. It’s a retro night. The DJ slaps on some eighties indie and she can’t help dancing:
‘She was twenty again. Cutting loose with Sasha and Claire. Not caring what she did or who was watching. Not worrying about tomorrow and definitely not giving a toss about yesterday.
Frank came up and danced alongside her. His eyes were closed and his face was the image of unadulterated joy. She held her arms aloft and whooped. He opened his eyes and did the same. The others caught on and everyone on the small patch of sticky lino began whooping and cheering and jumping with them. She remembered how good it felt to be one of a pack. Touched by the music and the warmth of belonging to something. In love with the feeling of being alive, and in the moment.’
Do you remember that feeling? I do.
I do remember that feeling, Hazel. Thanks so much.
An uplifting story of love, loss and second chances that celebrates friendship and human connections.
Netta Wilde was all the things Annette Grey isn’t. Netta Wilde was raw, unchecked and just a little bit rebellious. She loved The Clash and she loved being Netta Wilde.
Annette Grey is an empty, broken woman who hardly knows her own children. Of course, it’s her own fault. She’s a bad mother. An unnatural mother. At least, that’s what her ex-husband tells her.
The one thing she is good at …
the one thing that stops her from falling …
is her job.
When the unthinkable happens, Annette makes a decision that sets her on a journey of self-discovery and reinvention. Along the way, her life is filled with friends, family, dogs, and jam. Lots of jam.
Suddenly anything seems possible. Even being Netta Wilde again.
But, is she brave enough to take that final step when the secrets she keeps locked inside are never too far away?