The Howl and The Hum

 

When these guys popped up on Spotify, I fell instantly in love with the vocalists voice and the lyrics he sang. I’ve been playing it on loop ever since. I find myself putting on when I sit down to write.

So last night I was lucky enough to see them perform live in a pub in Birmingham. I like small intimate gigs and have always stayed away from the big arena type events. It’s so much nicer when you can see the faces of the band in real life as opposed to a large screen.

They were superb, energetic, charismatic and even better live than the recorded tracks I have come to know so well.

They are on tour until the 19th November (see dates at the end of this post). If, like me, you love intimate gigs where you get to chat to the band afterwards, then I urge you to book your tickets…..you won’t be disappointed.

Sam (lead vocals and guitar) was a lovely guy and shares with us his thoughts on being a songwriter.

What form does your writing take? If I’m being a good boy and putting in my 9-5 then I’m sitting in front of a piano with a laptop on top, with an electric guitar plugged in to my right and an acoustic to my left. I steal notes from the ‘Notes’ on my laptop and phone and mix them with other ideas I’ve collected in my notebook, and vice versa, to try to spark something, or I’ll listen through various Voice Memos and Garageband projects to find a starting point. Basically I’m a modern slave to consumerism, especially Apple products. Aching for an endorsement.

How often do you write? I try to give myself a Monday – Friday 9-5 but our gigging schedule makes that difficult and I’m a lazy bastard so, depending on the week, I’ll give myself the excuse that the artist has to sit and wait for inspiration to come to him. This is becoming more and more apparent that it is total bollocks, however, as if an idea does spring to mind and I’m miles from the nearest musical instrument or notepad, sometimes that idea will have disappeared by the time I am ready to note it down. I’m making it my business to be readier when inspiration strikes.

How does your writing make you feel? I find writing very cathartic and treat it like free therapy: mostly because actual therapy is very expensive, but also because it looks like there’s a chance I can turn this self-therapy into a mildly lucrative career. When I stumble across a lyric which is totally true, and feels inspired, however, it can teach me more about myself than I’d ever say aloud, or know about myself. That’s the joy of writing for me, I guess – exploring the subconscious. That seems to be where the best ideas come from too.

Where and when do you write? We have a studio just outside York where there’s a piano and lots of geese and not many people at all, and it means I can write there whenever really. I tend to write best between about 10-3, but sometimes nothing comes so I just end up sitting outside smoking, drinking excessive amounts of coffee and talking to the geese. They know a surprising amount

What do you write about? I guess the songs I’m most comfortable writing are drawn from experience, but I do love creating characters born from people I’ve met or emotions I’ve not quite come to terms with yet. We have a new song called The Only Boy Racer Left on the Island about a boy racer we saw on Orkney, but when I finished it it had become an exploration of masculinity through youth and loneliness. The rest of the songs are about girls, I guess.

What is the best thing about writing? For me, it’s the cathartic nature, and the feeling you get when all the music fits with the words and you’ve created an atmosphere, but I think the most satisfied I’ve ever felt is when creating something that doesn’t quite make sense, even to me – when you’re left with questions about your work even as the author. Recently I’ve been trying to write a lot more open-endedly, with the hope that the song doesn’t wrap itself up completely.

How long have you been writing for? My first great work was aged four when I wrote a story about my lost balloon visiting my grandmother in heaven. Still have yet to top this.

Tour Dates:

02.10.19 | London | Scala
10.10.19 | Cardiff | SWN Festival
13.11.19 | Liverpool | Jimmy’s
14.11.19 | Dublin | Workman’s Club
16.11.19 | Stockton-On-Tees | Songs From Northern Britain
17.11.19 | Hull | The Adelphi
19.11.19 | Bristol | The Exchange

Tickets available from Ticketmaster and gigsandtours.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheHowlandTheHum
Instagram: thehowlandthehum
Twitter: @ howlandhum

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Italian Inspiration

 

I went to Italy with an expectation to find time, peace and inspiration to create. My idea was to write, edit and continue book 3, with the aim of nudging it in the direction of 80,000 words and completion.

It was an amazing experience to be able to spend the day being creative, sitting in the shade of a tree in the overgrown garden. Occasionally staring at the view as I wrote about rural Gloucestershire in the 50’s, far off tractors working away, a noise I got used to over the month we were there.

A long break for lunch of gorgeous fresh produce from the market alongside DD’s (husband) homemade bread, was a nice distraction from the laptop.

By late afternoon the Bee eaters arrived, swooping around the fig trees to catch their dinner, showing flashes of olive green and bright yellow as they loudly warbled …for want of a better word!

Evenings spent in the traditional kitchen, music blaring (no neighbours), Figgy, the stray cat looking on, glass of wine in hand, knocking up something tomato based with pasta was a beautiful end to most of my days.

Did I reach my target? Well I wrote everyday and have definitely improved and lengthened my manuscript. I also found my love of painting! Some days I found myself drawn (no pun intended) to painting and others to writing. It was a massive pleasure to have two to choose from. I think I’ll continue to do both alongside each other, they seem to compliment each other well and keep me exceptionally happy and fulfilled.

All in all a molto bellissimo experience!

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The prettiest bookstall I’ve ever seen

 

We are enjoying a month in Le Marche, Italy. Our nearest village is called Montefelcino… It’s a beautiful, fortified hill town with high walls that guard the pretty interior. Every Tuesday night in the summer months, this sleepy village turns into a vibrant evening of food and antique stalls. It seems that everyone from the surrounding countryside turns up with pushchairs and dogs in tow. Families, old and young crowd the narrow streets. Music DJ’d by Radio Fano fill the balmy/sticky night as people browse the market stalls and purchase all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

Old pots and pans, machinery, hideous paintings and handmade clocks all add to the eclectic vibe of this wonderful evening.

I love the bookstalls..some in vintage suitcases lining the streets others stacked on banana boxes overlooking the great view towards the Adriatic.

Did I buy?  Books? Sadly not…my Italian is not yet good enough but I did find a great Alfa Romeo hub cab (I am still a petrolhead at heart) and some simple brass candle sticks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An interview with composer and music producer, Harry Steele.

Harry writes music for various different artists around the world and music for film, television and games.

He is also a pianist and keyboard player, with a passion for jazz, pop and classical music. Harry was a founder member of the hugely popular band, Young Kato, which took him and the band on many different national and international tours, at major arenas, performing at sell out headline shows, major UK festivals and international touring along with various television and radio performances.

I caught up with the amazingly talented Harry between his busy schedules, to ask him about his passion for writing and performing  music. What struck me was how similar his feelings are to writing music as mine are to writing books. You live and breathe it and without it, life would be unthinkable!

 

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What form does your writing take? I write music in many different genres and for lots of different platforms. I sometimes write by myself, but I also work in a song-writing collaborative with two other musicians and we write songs for other artists. I also write music for films and games. The range of genres is really wide, from mainstream to jazz, alternative and including acoustic and electronic instrumentation.

How often do you write? I write every single day! There are so many things around me that give me inspiration, I find that I need to write every day, to be able to express myself through the music. It’s a biological need! I can’t remember the last time I had a day without writing music.

How does your writing make you feel? When I write music, it can make me feel a huge range of different emotions. Sometimes I can be completely absorbed in the writing proses where nothing else in the world matters apart from that one single moment when I am writing. In terms of emotions, it isn’t as simple as ‘happy’ or ‘sad’, but it’s much more subtle. I feel I need a lot of empathy, considering who will be performing the music, being really mindful about the lyrics of the song and what they are trying to convey (if there are lyrics!) and also what I want the impact of the song to be on the listeners.

I feel that once you are completely absorbed in the creative process, whether that be composing, writing a book, cooking or drawing up a plan for a building, it’s not just about how it makes you feel once deeply in the writing process, but more about this thing that you are creating and how other people are going to feel about it. So it creates a feeling of wanting to serve the creation and also a feeling of selflessness.

 

Harry 1

 

Where and when do you write? I write everywhere. I have transformed my flat into a music studio, which on the one hand is incredible, but there’s no escape! But really I write everywhere. I can be walking down the street, sitting on a train, reading a book, or simply having a conversation. But at that moment, if I start to create a melody, a harmonic movement, or something rhythmical, the key thing is to capture the idea. If I haven’t got a laptop and keyboard in my bag, you’ll see me frantically singing into my phone, capturing the new ideas, so that I can use them again later. Some of my most creative moments are completely unpredictable! I love to create something which wasn’t there before, which can then manifest into whatever you want.

What do you write about? I write about everything. If there’s something that has the potential to illicit any kind of emotional response, then I will write about it, whether it’s about love, heartbreak, conflict, politics or social issues. It also depends on whether I’m writing for myself, or following a brief for someone else. The great thing about the creative process is that you don’t know where it will lead. You only know the starting point. At the beginning, you often cannot predict the path, the middle or the end. Therefore, I need to accept that what I am writing about might change as the songwriting process emerges, multiple times!

What the best thing about writing? For me the best thing about writing is being able to create something that has never been made before, out of nothing. It is an amazing feeling being able to say that this creation didn’t exist 5 hours ago and that I have brought it to life. From there, if this creation can cause people to deeply feel in new ways, whether that is through sadness, joy or inspiration, and if the music can also make people think differently, then I am always continually blown away by the power of music and the impact it can have on people’s lives. The power of music ripples through people, and can create huge changes within individuals and within society. I love the way that my music can have these massively profound and transformative impacts.

But even before this, in the writing process, if I am working with other people, I love that too, as you may be working with people who are so different to you, but you then create something together. It is always incredibly unique and something you could not achieve alone. Writing music in this collaborative way is also a huge learning journey for me and the other writers. We get to learn how to express ourselves in brand new ways, and to fuse together so many different ways of looking at the world, and articulating how to express those ideas.

How long have you been writing for? I have been writing music since I was a baby! From as young as I can remember, I have always been expressing myself through the keys of a piano, with my earliest songs captured on old school tape recorders! My more significant compositions started from the age of 10. It’s fascinating to dig out some of the old recordings. But we grow, we change, we move forward, and I know I will be writing differently as the years go by.

If you’d like to hear Harry’s amazing piano playing for yourself,  head over to his website: www.harrysteele.co.uk

You can also contact Harry on his mobile: 07577238229.

 

 

 

 

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Wayne’s World

Originally from British Columbia, Author, Wayne Turmel now lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. For nearly 20 years he was a stand-up comedian touring throughout North America, headlining clubs and concerts across the US and Canada and opened for bands such as Chicago and Hall and Oates.

 

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In 2003, he wrote his first book, “A Philistine’s Journal, an Average Guy Tackles the Classics”. Since then he has written numerous books. In 2015 he published “The Count of the Sahara”, followed by his latest novel, Acre’s Bastard in January of 2017.

I met Wayne on a great Facebook site for people who love to write. I appeared on his blog last week: www.WayneTurmel.com  It only seems right and proper that he should feature on mine too. Take it away Wayne!

What form does your writing take?

It seems like I’m always writing. My job requires a constant barrage of blogs and articles, but if we’re talking about the fun stuff, I write historical novels and short stories in a bunch of genres. I’ve done three novels; one stand-alone (The Count of the Sahara) and two parts of a series (Acre’s Bastard and the latest one, Acre’s Orphans.) I’ve been on a good streak of short stories as well, mostly in Storgy.com.

How often do you write?

I would love to say that I write every day and I’m incredibly disciplined and just a word-machine but that would be SUCH a lie. I write between the cracks of my life. During the week, precious little gets done because making a living is kind of the priority. Because we are empty-nesters, though, I can usually get a few hours in on the weekends. If I can get 3000 words or so I’m pretty satisfied.

How does your writing make you feel?

When I was a younger man, I was in the entertainment business and always felt creative. When I joined the real world, even though I was writing constantly and have published a number of books and countless articles, it doesn’t feel creative. It feels like work. My fiction is fun and makes me feel like my soul hasn’t been completely drained from my body. (DISCLAIMER SO I DON”T GET FIRED: I like my job, but writing about orphans escaping spies is wayyyyyy more fun)

Where and when do you write?

When I moved to Las Vegas, I had visions of sitting on my deck in the sun writing while watching the hummingbirds at the feeder. Nope. I can doodle and outline and plot out there, but when it comes to getting my brilliance (ahem) on the paper I sit at my desk like any other drone. Even on weekends, I gather my thoughts almost anywhere but have to into my office, sit in my official work chair, and crank out the words on my keyboard.

Like I said, I do most of my creative writing on weekends, but I do manage to use a loophole to steal time. Because I live in the Pacific time zone, I have to start my work day very early. Since my east coast colleagues knock off about 2 my time, I sometimes steal the late afternoon to get some words in.

What do you write about?

I basically haven’t changed much since I was thirteen, only now I write the kind of stories I used to enjoy. Historical fiction is often thought of as stuffy and serious, but what are The Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe, or Kipling’s Kim except adventure stories set in the past? My Lucca le Pou stories are in that vein.

My short stories usually start as experiments. Can I do a story in this particular style? Can I capture the thoughts going through someone’s brain during the two minutes of a horse race? How about the action in three rounds of a boxing match? There’s a lot of variety in my short fiction because I’m mainly practicing different techniques.

Lord, that sounds pretentious.

What the best thing about writing?

It just makes me feel creative. There’s also a component most people don’t think about. Writing is thought of as a solitary act, but it’s actually a big part of my social life. I work from home, and can go days without seeing anyone other than my wife. Early on in my fiction career, I discovered the importance of writers groups. Currently I’m a member of a couple of writers groups here in Las Vegas, and it is pretty much the only day of the week I get out among other humans. Talking and laughing with people who understand your obsession is very important to both networking and general mental health.

How long have you been writing for?

That’s kind of a trick question. It’s easy to say “all my life,” but that’s sort of true. When I was a young man, I spent over 15 years a working stand-up comedian, so I was constantly writing, but it was jokes, articles, and trying to break into screenplays and television. Then when I joined the real world, I switched to non-fiction and business-oriented stuff. It wasn’t until I was 51 years old that I decided I wouldn’t be a “real writer” until I did a novel, so Count of the Sahara came out in 2014.

 

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If you want to see more fabulous information about Wayne, head over to his website, author page or follow him on twitter.

My website www.WayneTurmel.com

My Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/Wayne-Turmel/e/B00J5PGNWU/

Twitter @WTurmel

 

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Devon Heaven

 

I never need an excuse to head off for a few days to wind up in glorious South Devon.

This latest outing had a purpose though, not just a jolly. I was on a mission to see if guests staying in various lodgings along the South Devon coast (a location within the book) would be interested in Dance with Fireflies.

Armed with boxes of books and my new dinky flyers, a two hour drive found us in the heart of the English Riviera, Torquay. Husband and wife team, Nicola and Steve always offer us such a warm welcome at The Buckingham Lodge Guest House. Nicola was happy to display my novels in a cabinet for her guests to see on arrival. The leaflets will be placed in all of the 8 guest rooms. So after a hearty breakfast (best in Torquay), and a great nights sleep, we pack up the car and head off into the misty morning (it was supposed to be sunny!).

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A short drive along the coast to the sheltered haven of Babbacombe Bay finds The Cary Arms and Spa. It nestles snuggly into this charming cove with amazing views out to sea. I have high hopes for my book in this beautiful boutique hotel and happily picture their clientele enjoying the story of Phyllis living in Devon during WW2.

 

After a bracing walk along Babbacombe’s pretty harbour wall. We make our way to Shaldon. I love this cute little seaside village with its red sand river beach and jaunty rock called The Ness. I always picture Phyllis (my grandmother and protagonist of Dance with Fireflies) and the family living here, pushing the piano along the pavement to get it home, the bomb falling near the green and the telegram boy arriving on the doorstep with news of my grandfather’s death.

Lunch at The Ness (fish and chips) was delicious as we peered out through large windows to the lovely view of Teignmouth over the water. The Ness is a handsome pub with lovely rooms that have the most charming balconies. Rachel, the manager, was thrilled to hear that her pub actually features in my book.

 

The last of the day’s sunshine found us in The Langstone Cliff Hotel, Dawlish Warren. This traditional family run hotel overlooks the Exe estuary with amazing sea views from their expansive lawn dotted with tables and chairs. This is a proper hotel with Jazz and dance weekends, afternoon tea in The Lincoln bar and two swimming pools. I am very excited to have signed copies of my book on sale here….thanks to Louise… the granddaughter of its founders Stanley and Marjorie.

So a great weekend. Dance with Fireflies has 4 more stockists, from a B&B, boutique hotel and spa, traditional pub to a long-established hotel.

 

http://www.buckinghamlodge.uk

http://www.caryarms.co.uk

http://www.theness.co.uk

http://www.langstone-hotel.co.uk

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U3A – Picture perfect book club meeting

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The summer of 2018 may seem like a long time ago now but I have just received these gorgeous photographs and simply had to share them. My mother, Maureen, was invited to a meeting by the Bookworms Book Club. They are a group of book lovers belonging to the Cam & Dursley U3A. They chose Dance with Fireflies as one of their summer reads.

I just love the setting of this book club meeting, in the stunning gardens belonging to Jo, one of the U3A members. The tablecloth, pretty glasses and umbrella could easily be a scene from the book, some of which is set in the days of the decaying British Raj in India.

Mum (in the white top) enjoyed sharing the family photograph album with the group who avidly searched out family members they felt they knew through reading the novel. “They discussed them as if old friends,” commented mum, who said she felt privileged to be the centre of attention.

Mum received a lovely letter….the answer to which is…Yes! the sequel is written. I’m on the prowl for the right publisher. Watch this space.

 

 

 

 

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