What are your earliest musical memories?
For some reason, Petula Clarke singing Downtown comes to mind. When I googled the song title I discovered that it was released in 1965, so I am giving away my vintage here. But that one sticks in my mind and to this day, I cannot hear it without feeling uplifted and happy. It is, I think, a joyous celebration of the power of, and need for connectedness in the human spirit.
After that, my next musical memory is the soundtrack to the film, The Sound of Music. I learned every word of every song by heart. Also, being a Maria, I identified strongly with the character played by Julie Andrews, i.e. the prancing around on the mountains bit, not the nun stuff. But I also remember leaving the cinema afterward with an enormous sense of grief that life did not have a soundtrack – that was how powerfully that first experience of a musical impacted on me.
Who or what were your musical influences growing up and why?
My father was a huge fan of Sinatra, so we grew up listening to Old Blue Eyes on a really excellent quality stereo which my father won in a raffle (we would never have had it otherwise). My love for Sinatra has endured to this day. My father also loved Country music – real Country, not a corny Irish version of it. Glen Campbell and Don William, Kris Kristofferson were always being played in our house and I loved all those artists. I also pretty much wore out a couple of Elvis albums too. In my teens, I was a fanatical fan of Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, David Essex, The Bay City Rollers and I also loved Slade, Wizard, Sweet and Mud. I was also crazy about Barry White and indeed most Motown artists and in my later teens discovered Bob Dillon, the Eagles, the Stones, Linda Ronstadt and Fleetwood Mac and, courtesy of Red Island, Skerries, I discovered Horslips.
Does music influence your writing?
Absolutely. My debut novel, The Last Lost Girl, which was set in the summer of 1976, is full of musical allusions. The soundtrack of the seventies was pretty much playing in my head as I wrote that book and every chapter has at least one song referenced, all chosen carefully by me in keeping with the mood/action of that chapter.
Do you listen to music while writing, editing, etc.?
No, never. I am more likely to have the TV on in the background than to listen to music. I don’t know why this is so, it just is. Perhaps, thinking about it, music affects my mood so much that maybe it would interfere with the creative process, in that it transports me to other times, times in memory which might not work for me when I am trying to create a fictitious world. But, even when I was writing The Last Lost Girl, which was set in the 1970s and full of the musical references of the time, I did not listen to music while writing, so I don’t really know what’s going on there
Is there one particular novel or piece of writing you wrote that was directly influenced by a piece of music?
As I said above, The Last Lost Girl is littered with references to songs of the 70’s. Central to my story is a missing girl, Lilly Brennan, who was never seen without her transistor radio. Throughout the seventies section of the novel, Lilly’s radio blares out the hits of the long hot summer of 1976. Music is as much a part of Lilly’s story, Lilly’s life as it is mine. Songs are planted throughout my second book, On Bone Bridge too – I cannot imagine writing a book and not including references to music – it is always there in the background of our lives, and a song can trigger a floodgate of memories as raw, sweet or painful as when we actually experienced the original event.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
As I type, nothing. But I listen to Nova radio in the car and when I’m cooking, I listen to Boz Scaggs, Dire Straits, Fleetwood Mac, Glen Campbell, the Eagles.
Musically, what’s your guilty pleasure (or is there such a thing)?
I sort of feel guilty about pretty much all my musical pleasures! I remember being laughed at by a school-friend when I was a teenager because I knew the words to a Jim Reeve’s song…
Of course, at this stage in my life, this situation is not helped by the fact that my daughter has seriously edgy musical tastes and my husband is in to heavy rock. I still hark back to my early love of Sinatra, Country and 70’s cheese. But then I do like a bit of cheese…
Maria’s latest book, On Bone Bridge, is on sale from July 4. You can follow her on Twitter at @MariaHoey