Books, Beaulieu and Bargains

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Tomorrow I will be signing copies of all my titles at Quizfest in Beaulieu, and the good news for everyone attending is that all of my books on sale there will be available at prices lower than their online price. Those who cannot make the event can still pick up a bargain though, as all my titles published by Fabrian Books (the Eighties trilogy) have offers running on their Kindle versions this weekend at Amazon.

Happy reading!

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The Year After You

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Writing extensively about the Eighties means I sometimes have to be more analytical than reflective. Holding up a mirror is not enough. You have to examine things in microscopic detail. However, irrespective of whether I’m writing about an historic event, a backstage anecdote or a fond recollection, there is an underlying fundamental thread that often defies methodical analysis. The people involved in these events.

I could write reams on the political significance and worldwide implications of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but just one image of the revellers celebrating its demise atop the landmark, shortly before its collapse, says so much more than I ever could. The revelation, during my interview with Ranking Roger, of David Bowie turning delivery boy ahead of his Milton Keynes gig in 1983, to ensure Saxa had his cans of White Stripe, only serves to emphasise the star quality of the man behind the legend. Even something as simple as recalling the first single we bought can evoke strong emotions, not only because of the music but the people associated with it too: the artist, the person who was with us when we bought the record, who we sang, danced or cried with to that track. Memories may be made of the sights, sounds and even smells of our past but the truth is, without people they are nothing. That is why it hurts so much to lose someone who has been an integral part of those memories.

Last April, after a cruel battle with a particularly aggressive form of lung cancer, Lee, my best friend and soulmate of 25 years lost his fight with the disease, at the age of 51. The months that followed are really just a blur, in which I honoured existing obligations on autopilot but have no clear memory. Photos from that time are the only tangible proof I have of my existence then. In most, I have a familiar big smile, but when I look at my eyes I see someone who truly did not know what day of the week it was. It wasn’t until the end of July when, thanks to the help of some wonderfully supportive friends, I began to write again. Although prior to that, I had begun to write poetry for the first time since my late teens.

A couple of months ago, I shared one of those poems, ‘The Year After You’, with Peter Coyle, who later told me “I only read the first two verses and I had to stop. It made me cry and so I had to walk away and come back to it later. It was very emotional and that is why I wanted to try and put it into a song. Even then it was difficult. It hurts just listening to it for me, because the words are so raw and sincere. There is a real beauty and strength to them. They have a direct link to the heart.”

That song was waiting for me when I arrived home one Saturday afternoon last November. I had been to London for a radio interview to promote The 80’s Annual, and had then gone on to interview Soft Cell’s David Ball for my next book. Coming home to discover one of The Lotus Eaters had turned one of my poems into a song perfectly topped off the kind of day my teenage self could have barely dared to dream about. ‘The Year After You’ is a deeply personal poem I wrote about losing Lee, so it will come as no surprise to know I was in tears when the track finished playing. Peter admits that in writing the song “I was very scared because the words to ‘The Year After You’ were so real and intimate, but it just gripped me and wouldn’t let go. It is so special to open up and allow someone else’s personal feelings and emotions to be expressed in the music, even when they are difficult emotions, but it is harder singing someone’s words because you have to assimilate them as though they come from your heart. You just hope that the writer sees that you are trying to reflect her honesty.”

I had only to hear the emotion in Peter’s voice, as he sang the words I had written, to know that. However, I was still uncertain when he suggested the possibility of releasing the song. It had taken a lot of deliberation before sharing the poem with him, so the thought of it being in the public eye was quite overwhelming. Understanding my reticence, Peter left the decision with me. The song was a gift to me, so it was up to me who should hear it.

Eventually, I decided there could be no better tribute to the man who had been by my side for most of my adult life, and whose loss had changed it forever. Besides, who was I to stop anyone from hearing this gorgeous creation, which may have arisen from sadness but has finished as a beautifully crafted message of hope?four.jpg

So, early December saw Peter in the studio, mixing the song which I am pleased to announce will be released on 3rd February. Currently, the track can be pre-ordered from iTunes and will also be available from various outlets such as Amazon and Spotify.

To find out more about Peter Coyle and his music, visit his website: www.petercoyle.com.

 

The Word On The Street

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Flicking through the pages of the recently released winter edition of Street Sounds, I was delighted to come across this fantastic review of The 80’s Annual.

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If you too want to be kept in “a nostalgic 80s-gasm for hours” you can order a copy of the annual from online retailers, including Amazon and The Book Depository.

When Tomorrow Comes

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It is almost three months since the cover of The 80’s Annual was revealed, and since then there has been a steady build up to its release on 1st November. The last week or so has flown past as I have juggled existing writing commitments with press and radio interviews to promote the annual. Having finally adjusted to being the interviewee rather than the interviewer, I look forward to the forthcoming interviews I have lined up, including those with BBC Radio London and Nub TV. Now however, my focus is solely on the annual’s launch tomorrow, when the ideas, research and passion for my favourite decade become a tangible reality out for public consumption. 1980s annual cover (2)

A mixture of excitement and nerves, I eagerly await the feedback on what has been both the most fun and the most time-consuming publication I have written to date. It would not have been possible without the contributions and help of all those who feature in the annual’s list of acknowledgements, and I would like to take this opportunity to say a big ‘Thank You’ to each and every one of you.

Available from Amazon and Waterstones, The 80’s Annual is “a collection of features, photos and fun for the adult child of the Eighties. Anyone who remembers the excitement of receiving an annual as a Christmas present, will enjoy the nostalgic familiarity of The 80’s Annual, as well as uncovering new discoveries about some of their favourite faces of the decade.”

Here are some comments from those who have had a preview of the annual:

“What would we do without our ‘cultural’ magazines? Every generation needs them.  This 80’s annual really does the job of capturing the essence of the era.”  Suzi Quatro

“It gives a fantastic sense of nostalgia … evocative of a bygone age, with a great love of that.” Jona Lewie

“J.R. Ewing, Del Boy, Iron Maiden, The Specials, MTV, Walkmans, Pac-Man, Cheers, home computers, Blade Runner, E.T., The Terminator, Die Hard, the fall of The Wall … what’s not to love about the 1980s? The decade shouldn’t just be celebrated, it should be preserved in aspic. Just don’t mention the Care Bears. Happy to have my pick of TV shows included in The 80’s Annual.” Garry Bushell

I look forward to receiving your feedback too, and don’t forget to tweet or send me your photos of you with your copy of The 80’s Annual.

Freebie Time!

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For many children it’s back to school today, which means some of us find themselves with a little extra free time on their hands. What better way of making use of those bonus minutes than claiming a freebie? Today, ‘Your Eighties’ is available in Kindle version for FREE!  You don’t need a Kindle to read it either, simply download Amazon’s Kindle Reading App to read the book on your computer, tablet or mobile.

So, if you’re a fan of the Eighties, download your free copy from Amazon today.

Click to find the book on Amazon

Give Me Just A Little More Time

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Following Saturday’s launch party for ‘Your Eighties’, this week has been another busy one as I juggle ongoing writing commitments, promotion for the latest book and starting work on the next one. Not to mention undertaking necessary mundane tasks, such as mowing the lawn before it morphs into Jumanji, and shopping (not my favourite task at any time of the year) amongst the masses of over-hyped Christmas consumers. Talking of the C-word, this is the first year since leaving home 22 years ago, that my decorations will not be up during the first week in December. I haven’t lost my festive spirit, just the time to embrace the season in the manner I usually do.

Being up against the clock means I’ve taken a bit of a shortcut with this week’s blog, and direct you to my column for Canterbury Times  for more on the launch party. Before I rush off though, I’d like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who supported the launch party and who has bought ‘Your Eighties’. When you’ve finished reading the book, it would be great if you’d leave a review on Amazon (you don’t need to have bought the book from Amazon to leave a review on the site). It makes a big difference to how they list the book, and may even make my life a little less frantic. Thanks!

Author review

‘Your Eighties’ is available from Amazon or directly from My Eighties website.

That Friday Feeling

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Some days stay etched in your memory for all the right reasons. Yesterday was one of those days for me. What started off as an ordinary day turned out to be one of life’s highlights, when I discovered that ‘My Eighties’ had gone to Number 1 in both its category listings on Amazon 061115 BiogAmazon.

Having announced my good news on social media, the amazing responses I received from well-wishers, have been truly overwhelming – thank you.

My unexpected chart-topping coincided with a further announcement later that day. I had been asked by the Canterbury Times to write a weekly 80s-themed column. Yesterday afternoon saw my first piece go live online, which you can read here. Talk about having that Friday Feeling!

Today, I feel a bit like a child on Christmas evening, as I eagerly await tomorrow’s cover reveal for ‘Your Eighties’. Only one more sleep…