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Posts Tagged ‘Martin Tracey’

The very fact that I have even taken the time to Blog on this Boxing Day 2016 is a measure of the profound influence that George Michael has had on me personally. I am by no means a prolific blogger but today I felt compelled, and I guess inspired, to write about a man who sadly will never know how greatly he affected me and many others like me.

The first time I experienced this great artist was when I first heard the 12 inch underground version of Wham Rap in the early 1980s where the songwriting credit was given to Panos and Ridgely. I recall Ridgeley was spelt incorrectly, and Panos was the chosen evolution of George’s birth surname  Panayiotou before he selected the identity that we all know and love of George Michael. Wham! were not yet a household name and I had no idea what they even looked like. But still, the track connected with me in a big way. Once they hit the scene I loved the Fantastic album with its mixture of soul, pop and good vibes. But it was one sunny afternoon walking along Birmingham’s New Street where George metaphorically grabbed me. The saxophone solo of “Careless Whisper” spilled out of the HMV record store and I became fixed to the papvpavementI listened with a great sense of awe. It was beautiful, hooky and amazingly original. Suddenly I wanted to be like George Michael.

My hair was naturally curly, like George’s, and like him, I struggled to keep it in the trendy hairstyles of the day. I also had both my ears pierced and sported those trademark gold sleepers. In truth, I was told I looked like Andrew Ridgeley and not George, but that was ok because I loved Wham! as a whole.  And without Andrew’s influence, we must remember George would not even have had the courage to step into the limelight and we may never have heard any of his wonderful songs. George’s image inspired me for sure but it was his music that connected with me more than anything.

For me, not since Elvis Presley has a solo performer possessed the looks, charisma, stage presence and glorious singing voice other than George Michael. Like Elvis, he seemed to have it all, yet he could even beat Elvis in one department – songwriting.

George Michael was a ground-breaker, which perhaps hasn’t always been recognised. He really was so much more than a fantastic singer, songwriter and charismatic performer. Let’s reflect on this for a moment:

  • He wrote Careless Whisper at the age of 17
  • Was one-half of the biggest selling band of the 1980s
  • As one-half of Wham! was the first western band to play in China
  • Sold more than 100 Million records worldwide
  • His debut solo album Faith sold more than 20 Million copies
  • Won 4 Ivor Novello Awards
  • Won 3 Brit Awards
  • 2 Grammy Awards
  • He supported the 1980s Miners strike and spoke out against Thatcher
  • He was quick to understand and comment on the Bush and Blair relationship
  • He came out in perhaps the most extraordinary way ever recorded – during a police sting in a Beverly Hills toilet! And then turned that experience on its head by crafting the song ‘Outside’and its hilarious accompanying video complete with glittering urinals
  • Successfully went from bubblegum band member to successful and evergreen solo artist, creating an inspiration for the likes of Robbie Williams
  • Achieved the biggest selling number 2 of all time with ‘Last Christmas’ (he was at No 1 on Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas)
  • Had the courage to take on his record company in court as an attempt to secure rights and freedoms for both himself and other artists
  • Was an LGBT Activist
  • And of course, appeared in the first ever James Corden Carpool Karaoke!

So George leaves us quite a legacy both inside and outside his music, and like all great inspirational leaders, he was true to his beliefs and often viewed the cause of others as more important than his own credibility.

At the time of writing, stories are emerging of this very private but very friendly man who significantly donated to charity with the condition that a ‘big deal’ was not to be made of it. Social media has been alive with moving tributes by the likes of Ridgeley, Robbie Williams, Madonna, Elton John, Brian May, Boy George and Rob Lowe.

If I am to present a balanced tribute to George, it has to be stated that his private life revealed some very bizarre incidents, but which somehow still served to add a sense of warmth to the character of a superstar who was actually at the same time just a normal bloke. Through those incidents, George was simply making memories for us and instilling some talking points to keep him alive in addition to his ever-lasting music. To his credit, he was always keen to utilise these events, send himself up and use the controversy as a platform to still entertain people. Quite an extraordinary gift and sense of will. Appearances on Comic Relief, Catherine Tate Show, Extras and Little Britain are hilarious examples.

I would have loved to have met John Lennon, but he was shot dead when I was 11. I always believed that one day the opportunity may present itself for me to meet George Michael but alas it now can never be so. At least I had the great pleasure of seeing him perform live on several occasions. In 1984 at Birmingham’s NEC, my first ever concert and I was blown away by the performance of Wham! They created amazing energy coupled with such a polished performance. The night was made even more special as footage of the concert was included in the video for “Everything She Wants”. I also attended Wham! The Final which ranks as one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. As a solo performer, I saw George play live on the Cover to Cover tour, twice on the 25 Live Tour at the NEC again and Manchester City’s Football stadium, before finally witnessing George’s fabulous voice in all its glory during the Symphonica Tour. It saddens me that I will never have the chance to see him perform live again.  At the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992, he demonstrated to the world just what a truly extraordinary and amazing performer he was. He could hold his own against anybody once he graced that stage.

As a young kid, I always wanted to grow up to be a part of music myself. The Beatles and Elvis were my first influence but with those greats, I’ve always needed to look back in order to recognise their impact as I was never part of their generation. When the music of George Michael came along he was the only other significant inspiration to me, but what was great was he was contemporary so I could always grow with him and look forward to the next chapter. Like The Beatles, the music of George Michael has been a constant in my life and in particular during my own years of songwriting and playing in bands from the late 80s – 1990s. The influence of George Michael in my own songwriting is there for all to see,  although I can never claim to match it.When I hung up my keyboard I began to play with words by evolving from song writing to writing books. I love scribing but music will always be in my heart and this is why the subject finds it’s way into my novels. George Michael is referred to in all three of my published novels at the time of writing. I was always taken with the stories of Wimbledon Football Club booming out songs from a ghetto blaster in their changing rooms to motivate them before a game. In

When I hung up my keyboard I began to play with words by evolving from songwriting to writing books. I love scribing but music will always be in my heart and this is why the subject finds it’s way into my novels. George Michael is referred to in all three of my published novels at the time of writing. I was always taken with the stories of Wimbledon Football Club booming out songs from a ghetto blaster in their changing rooms to motivate them before a game. In Beneath The Floodlights I use this concept when the football team in the story blast out “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” before a match, and one of the footballers is a huge 80s fan wearing T-shirts sporting the catchphrase ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ – a slogan created by Wham! Then in Mind Guerrilla I take George’s own exploratory thoughts from his track “White Light” which he released following his near-death experience in Austria in 2011, forming the question Was it science that saved him or spirituality? The only questions on my lips today are Why didn’t something save him on Christmas Day 2016? What possible good reason is there for the world to be robbed of a talent like George’s at such a young age? In Mind Guerrilla I also make reference to his Olympic ceremony perofrmance. And finally, just 1 month short of his untimely death I released Things They’ll Never See where a failing rock star, Jake Zennor is seeking a way to emulate George Michael in the transition from band member to successful global superstar. My next book 27 will include a dedication to George Michael.

So as homes across the world were celebrating their Christmas day listening to George’s song “Last Christmas” news came through that rocked the foundations of our very being. This inspirational and much-loved star had passed away making this and every Christmas going forward somewhat of a poignant nature. George Michael owned John Lennon’s piano, the same that the great song “Imagine” had been composed on. Well, imagine that! It could have had no more deserving owner after Lennon. And George went on to compose the song “John and Elvis are Dead” as a tribute to these two musical heavyweights that have departed. George was questioning the rationale for their untimely deaths because losing inspirational and talented people so young makes no sense. Well, now we are left wondering why George Michael who penned that wonderful song has been taken from us at such an unnatural time. We wait to understand the cause of his death as a post mortem will be conducted in the next few days. The cause perhaps, the reasoning never.

I’ve been speaking today with my peers and people of my generation ever since I learned of the awful news, be it face to face or over social media. We must continue to speak of George Michael and then his energy and spirit can never really die. RIP George Michael, gone too soon but never forgotten. Your music and legacy will live on. You Have Been Loved. x

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Hi everyone, I have a real treat for you as I have managed to secure an interview with the latest literary phenomenon from across the pond – Laura K. Cowan. I also have the distinct pleasure of kicking off Laura’s Blog Tour which leads up to the launch of her latest novel Music of Sacred Lakes. Laura describes herself as a Dream novelist making connections between the natural and spiritual world.

I can relate to Laura as an author as we are both influenced by music and my own novel Mind Guerrilla, due for release later this year, includes the exploration of connecting and even controlling on levels not obvious to most of us.

To learn more about Laura and her intriguing work please read the exciting interview:

Hi Laura, you have a book coming out shortly. Could you tell us a little bit about Music of Sacred Lakes and how you came to choose the title?

Music of Sacred Lakes is about a young man in crisis who doesn’t want to be a sixth-generation farmer because he thinks his great great-grandfather unwittingly stole the land from its Odawa owners. He doesn’t feel he really belongs anywhere. Then, he accidentally kills a girl, but it is the spirit of the girl who comes back as a personification of the spirit of Lake Michigan to help him.

The title is inspired by the idea that there is music in all things, a voice running through the universe. I started this novel with a question: is there a relationship between music and the land it comes from? I began to research metaphysics, what wisdom traditions had to say about connectedness and the nature of the universe and matter, what physics had to say about the nature of reality and the relationship between sound and matter: superstring theory, M Field Theory, quantum entanglement. What I found was an overpoweringly beautiful pattern of connectedness, through all disciplines, through all cultures, through all matter. It’s so hard to explain in a blog post, but this pattern of connectedness informed the heart of this story: what it means for us to belong, and what is keeping so many of us in the modern western world feeling isolated and disconnected.

Is it fair to say that the genre you write in is a little unique, and could you tell us a bit more about the genre of magical realism or metaphysical fiction?

My books are all about dreams, connections between the natural and spiritual worlds, about bringing the magical and presumed-impossible into the world for the reader in a literal way. It’s imaginative fiction, at its heart. Pan’s Labyrinth is a good example of a movie in this genre. Many books in this genre involve mythic elements, fairytales, angels and demons, or completely invented magical characters and worlds. It’s fantasy, but often fantasy just out of the corner of your eye, Neil Gaiman or Borges style. Everything else in the story is contemporary, but then suddenly there are flying carpets, like in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude or Alice Hoffman’s The Red Garden, in which the blood of a bear a frontier woman once loved makes it so everything in her garden can only grow blood red for generations.

What inspired you to write Music of Sacred Lakes?

My family actually has a sixth-generation family farm in East Jordan, Michigan, just like Peter, but for me personally the heart of the story was not about specific people but exploring the relationship between this disconnect in our modern western culture between people and the world around them (the modernist idea that humans stand apart from nature and can be its objective observers) and the legacy of rejection my family has had especially on that side. Generation after generation there is at least one child who feels unwanted, embattled, rejected, and they make big messes and pass it on. I decided a long time ago that this chain would end with me, insofar as it was within my power to stop the legacy. And part of my journey to healing involved receiving this gift of the understanding of the connectedness of all things in the world, including people, from Eastern and Native American cultures. I wanted to write a story that explored these themes while honoring these cultures for bringing this crucial piece of wisdom and healing truth to me, because I grew up in a conservative religious culture that really didn’t know how to honor truth found in other cultures or religions—a symptom of this disconnected crisis.

Which character in the book did you have the most fun with?

Uncle Lou, the Odawa pipe carrier who first tells Peter he needs to live by the shores of Lake Michigan until it speaks to him. I was worried I would stumble across some offensive cultural faux pas writing him, because Uncle Lou kept wanting to be a guy with a mischievous sense of humor. I am grateful that some Odawa and Ojibwe linguists and tribe members helped me proof this book for cultural references and language, because I didn’t want Uncle Lou to end up some cultural stereotype mashup of blackface and Victorian Indian shows. Somehow he came through despite my anxiety, cracking cross-language jokes and (I hope) coming across as a wise and kind but very good-humored elder with a lot of joy in life despite his experience of being displaced from his own culture.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing your book?

Ah, that would be being called a heretic; even by some of the people closest to me (did I mention my upbringing?). Suffice it to say this book involved me growing a lot, and it was pretty hard to discover that I couldn’t explain my discoveries to anyone else. It made me wonder if the book was worth anything more than an exercise in moral courage for me. If people couldn’t understand it, was I doing anything meaningful? This was my wakeup call as an artist. I suddenly found this scripture, which says (I paraphrase, the Bible does go on for poetic emphasis, lol) “if I make you a watcher on the walls and you don’t warn the people that danger is coming, their blood will be on your head.” To me, that meant that it was crucially important that I put my own belief that I had discovered an important healing truth ahead of what other people thought of me. Otherwise I was worse than no good to anyone, regardless of whether I really understood what I thought I did. This book was me developing some courage to speak my truth, and I’m so glad someone out there seems to understand it. Rave reviews can be a seductive mistress, but it’s pretty amazing to see people picking up this book and seeing their eyes light up.

Is a book cover something that you consider important?

It’s very important, especially for magical realism, where the most sophisticated covers can often be found. I had this cover designed by someone who not only could design book covers but also understood the nuances of fonts and cover styles for conveying the exact style, time period, and content of this book. I love it.

For you personally what was the most spiritual experience that you have ever encountered?

When I was exploring the various traditions of vision quests and meditations for pursuing spiritual wisdom I was following a meditation by Lewis Mehl-Madrona on the spirit of healing, in which the listener walks up a mountain path looking for a healing lake. It was so simple, not coercive, so I kept going despite my anxiety (did I mention my religious upbringing? Gah! Fear-based thinking is the gift that just keeps on giving). I followed the path, and when he said that you had found the healing lake and what did it look like, suddenly I realized I was on an island in Lake Michigan, and the healing lake was actually all around me. The healing lake was everywhere! So accessible, so abundant. And my grandparents came to me, who have to me represented this legacy of rejection and neglect, and I asked my grandfather why we had all been through so much pain, why he had suffered and caused so much suffering. His face fell, and he said to me, “No one wanted me.” It broke my heart, this man who in my life had represented the monster of mental illness, telling me it was all because he was an orphan at heart. And aren’t we all, those of us who live believing that we are separated from the world and have no place? My grandmother told me that my grandfather was trying to put things right in our generational line because he was ashamed, of how much pain his suffering had caused, and that was when I knew I was writing a book about freedom from this orphan heart, for the sake of everyone and even the planet itself, which suffers because we suffer.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

For me, it’s the only way to get a book like this out to market and increasingly the best option for artists. Things are changing quickly, with traditional publishers most often offering very poor terms and services for authors and self-publishing increasingly offering more. I wanted someone to champion this book, but a dozen top agents in the magical realism space told me it was beautiful, amazing, wonderful, unique, and then that they couldn’t represent it because it didn’t match the longer style of most mainstream books. They did give me some really valuable advice that I took about how to improve the book, but I realized that since my style runs short and this book just isn’t like many other things out there, they really couldn’t help me sell the book without changing it into something I didn’t intend it to be. I’m grateful self-publishing is an increasingly amazing option, so this book doesn’t have to be molded into something it isn’t in order to succeed.

If your book was turned into a movie who could you see playing the lead role for the character or characters?

I want to say a young Johnny Depp because he’s so bizarre and talented, but he’s way too confident for this role, lol. He is a chameleon though. He could probably pull it off.

Who is your favourite author and why?

Italo Calvino. I read his Cosmicomics in college and it blew my mind that someone could succeed as a writer noodling around with fantasy based on the moon and the stars with plots that were coded with messages about the scientific elements that hinted at the nature of the universe. And people loved him! I always thought my tendency to obsess on these metaphysical topics would land me in the bargain bin, if I even got out of the slush pile. Wow!

Ok time to be a bit more random. It is no secret that I am a huge Beatles fan so for you is it Beatles or Stones?

Beatles. I know the Beatles were a UK phenomenon, but they remind me of the optimism and freedom of California, and I think I’m a Northern California girl at heart.

Do you have any other musical preferences?

I played classical and jazz piano pretty seriously through high school, so I have a soft spot for the German and Russian Romantics, but to give you a more up-to-date answer, I love cross-genre hip hop and Latin jazz, Tibetan throat-singing monks, and the music of water. Basically Dream Theater. Dream Theater would be the short answer to that question, lol. Give me something intense and authentic.

Are you a girl who likes football/soccer and if so who is your team?

I’m from Detroit, so my soccer team is the Redwings, I guess? Sorry to hit you up with a very American answer to that question. Hey hey Hockeytown.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about Laura K. Cowan?

Gosh, it sometimes feels like my strangeness doesn’t have a bottom, but I think we’ve covered it all. I suppose one thing to add would be that my books all center around these spiritual supernatural questions, but that doesn’t mean they’re all in the literary genre. I have books coming out this year that range from new fairytales and mythic fiction to a psychological thriller romance with nightmares that bleed into waking reality. It’s these topics that center my work, all other bets are off. I don’t live inside a genre box. No boring stories.

Where can we buy your book and when is its release date?

Music of Sacred Lakes will be available in paperback and Kindle e-book from Amazon on April 26, or you can order it at your local bookstore.

Do you have any means where we can contact you?

laurakcowan@gmail.com goes directly to me, or you can find me obsessing over many strange and possibly recursive thoughts with my friends on Facebook at fb.com/laurakcowannovelist.

Thanks Laura, I wish you every success for the future.

Thank you! Likewise. Thanks for having me.

BIOGRAPHY: Laura K. Cowan, The Dreaming Novelist, writes imaginative novels that explore the possibilities of the human condition through the connections between the spiritual and natural worlds. Her debut novel The Little Seer spent its launch week at #2 and #5 on the Kindle Bestseller List for free titles in Christian Suspense and Occult/Supernatural, and was hailed by reviewers and readers as “riveting,” “moving and lyrical.” Laura’s second novel, a redemptive ghost story titled Music of Sacred Lakes, and her first short story collection, The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen, will be available soon. Connect with Laura on her website LauraKCowan.com, on Twitter or on Facebook.

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I express a big thank you to Laurie who has featured me and my book Beneath the Floodlights on her first class blog:

http://lauriethoughts-reviews.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/beneath-floodlights-by-martin-tracey.html

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A big thank you to fellow author Rachael H Dixon of Slippery Souls fame who has interviewed and showcased me on her very entertaining blog.

http://rachaelhdixon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/vampires-football.html

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Beneath The Floodlights at the movies. Who would be the stars?.

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As Beneath the Floodlights has been in print one year today I thought it would be great fun to have a play at who could represent the characters of the book if it were ever to reach the silver screen (fingers crossed!)

I would love to hear from you to see if you agree with my choices or if you would like to offer some alternatives. Did you visualise the characters any differently when you read the book? You can either reply to the post or email me at martinpaperbackwriter@yahoo.co.uk.

 

Professor Cezar Prodanescu: Cezar oozes charisma and sophistication with the ability to make grown men shake in their boots whilst women fall at his feet!

I can see Sean Bean in this role. Other possible candidates could be Antonio Banderas or George Clooney.

 

Andrei Botezatu: Andrei is an athletic and dynamic vampire.

I can see Nowhere Boy Aaron Johnson doing a great job as Andrei.

 

Johnny Knox: Good looking and endearing. Johnny is the local hero whom everyone adores.

I like the idea of Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles playing Johnny, but can he kick a ball and do a Brummie accent! Other possible candidates could be Colin Farrell or even David Beckham if his acting skills are as good as his football skills.

Sheena Knox: Electrifyingly beautiful with dark hair.

I think Corrie’s Alison King would be perfect as Johnny’s strong and loyal wife.

Lily: Lily is a pretty young thing with an air of innocence.

I see another Corrie actress fitting the bill: Sacha Parkinson.

Vincent “Bruiser” Bradshaw: Lovable rogue and ball winning midfielder who suffers with Tourette’s Syndrome.

Versatile actor Tom Hardy would do a grand job I’m sure.

Jody Roper: the central defender who loves everything about the 1980s.

Jody is a very likeable character who often provides an element of humour in the book, therefore Owen Wilson (Starsky & Hutch, Zoolander) would be a great choice. I am exactly 10 days older than Owen, but unlike me he can easily pass for a man in his early to mid thirties.

Alvin Braxton: Jamaican goalkeeper for Kingsbarr United.

Impressive actor Idris Elba of Luther fame would be perfect in my book (no pun intended.)

Giuseppe Rossi: Italian centre-forward for Kingsbarr United.

How’s about Benidorm’s Jake Canuso.

Afina: strikingly looking Romanian victim of Andrei.

Black Swan’s Natalie Portman would be perfect in this role.

Gene Macgoree: Kingsbarr United superfan and prolific vampire slayer.

I can see two fine English actors playing this part: Tim Roth or Phil Davis.

Peter Cogshaw: Penny pinching chairman of Kingsbarr United.

How’s about Warren Clarke of Dalziel and Pascoe or perhaps Timothy Spall.

There are many more characters of course. Who would play the nasty pair of Leon Davis or Lucas for example. There are also parts for ex-jailbird Gerry Spalding, Charlie Cheng, Audrey Chillingsworth, Saffron Knox, Father McGill and the other vampires of the Fosturnea School of Football Excellence. Would there be a part in the film for the evil couple Josiah and Alison Connor who set the vampire ball rolling? (Pun intended).

It’s just a bit of fun but I would welcome your thoughts on the potential movie stars of Beneath The Floodlights.

(A big thank you to fellow author Rachael H. Dixon for providing this idea. You can read more about Rachael here: http://rhdixon.blogspot.co.uk/ )

 

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