HOW KATE BUSH HELPS ME WRITE.
BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Kate Bush is probably used to having people tell her how much her wonderful music has meant to them over the years, and still means to them today. I’m still going to add my two penn’orth to the mountain of praise, accolades, thanks and admiration, however, for what it’s worth, and Kate can smile graciously and benignly, as I’m sure she always does, and add it to the pile in the mental box-room where she probably keeps these things, lol.
I’ve been self-publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing for years now (KDP is the greatest thing to ever happen in the world of publishing, bar none), but my first traditionally published romantic fiction novel, THIRTEEN STOPS, is out now. The story of the fictional people who use the Luas line in Dublin from the Stephen’s Green stop to Sandyford and back again, it was written during the autumn of 2018 with Kate Bush on in the background the whole time.
I wrote the sequel, THIRTEEN STOPS LATER, in the winter/spring of 2019, with Kate’s album 50 WORDS FOR SNOW pretty much on repeat every single day I was writing. The sheer beauty of songs like MISTY (sex with a snowman, anyone?), SNOWED IN AT WHEELER STREET with Elton John and the titular 50 WORDS FOR SNOW literally helped me to fly through the writing. This was the easiest book in the trilogy to write, and at least some of the credit must go to the gorgeous and sensual Ms. Bush, the most beautiful woman in the world and the only gal I would ever turn gay for.
Her album, THE KICK INSIDE, with songs on it like MOVING, THE SAXOPHONE SONG and THEM HEAVY PEOPLE, literally makes me forget what I’m doing when I hear them. Ditto, LIONHEART and the sexy, swirly, twirly, whirly masterpiece she christened AERIAL.
The track HELLO EARTH from the album HOUNDS OF LOVE contains the haunting choral music from Werner Herzog’s fabulous vampire film, NOSFERATU, possibly the only film gothic enough and worthy enough of being mentioned in the same breath as Kate Bush.
This is my favourite film of all time, and, the fact that Kate (can I call you Kate, Kate?) clearly loves it too makes her even more of a soulmate. This album is so wild, so spiritual, so powerfully elemental, you can’t listen to it without imagine Kate rising heroically, triumphantly, from the waves, waves which are crashing against the rocks like the end of the world is coming, or Poseidon is having a really bad hair day.
I’ve just finished writing the third book in the THIRTEEN STOPS trilogy, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, a prequel to the events that take place in the first book. I mixed and matched all my Kate albums whilst penning it.
One day I’d be listening to THE DREAMING, with songs on it like the magnificent NIGHT OF THE SWALLOW, PULLING OUT THE PIN and GET OUT OF MY HOUSE. (This last was especially apt during the Great Coronavirus Lockdown of 2020, which was when I wrote the third book. Kate’s inspirational music was especially needed and welcome during this time, as all my usual sources of inspiration, such as going for long walks in the fresh air, were temporarily closed off to me during this time, what with the whole ‘STAY HOME, STAY SAFE AND PROTECT EACH OTHER’ thing.)
Anyway, another day I’d be playing THE OTHER SIDES, a boxset with four albums on it, one of which is among my favourites of all of her works, IN OTHERS’ WORDS. She sings MNA NA hEIREANN and MY LAGAN LOVE on this album as if she were as Irish as a fight outside a Dublin boozer on a Saturday night over the relative merits of Jack Charlton versus Mick McCarthy. She has a Celtic soul, that girl.
She does some beautiful covers of popular pop songs here as well: Marvin Gaye’s SEXUAL HEALING and her pal Elton John’s ROCKET MAN and GOODBYE NORMA JEAN. Her cover of Donovan’s THE REEDY RIVER is so hauntingly atmospheric and other-worldly that it actually gives my teenage son the creeps.
He’s autistic, but he recognised straightaway that this isn’t just a song, or a cover, it’s an eerie trip back in time, so far back that you end up entering through a mist-wreathed portal in to Irish mythology, where the bewitched Children of Lir are still, in a parallel universe, living out their nine hundred years on an enchanted lake as swans. If the portal disappears, you’re stuck there forever…
The song MOMENTS OF PLEASURE from the album THE RED SHOES has always struck me as being particularly meaningful, beautiful and sad, but when I discovered during the Lockdown that it’s factually based, on some people who were very dear to Kate who’d sadly passed away, I went to pieces altogether and bawled my eyes out watching the video repeatedly on YouTube while I was meant to be writing. There’s nothing like a good cry for making you feel better, sure there’s not?
I’m now facing into a few long, hard months of editing THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER and THIRTEEN STOPS LATER. I may sometimes put on a bit of Leonard Cohen or Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel (I have eclectic tastes, okay?), but I always return faithfully to Kate Bush, the artist who, in 1978, at aged nineteen, gave us the immortal legend of a song that is WUTHERING HEIGHTS, a song that effortlessly conjures up the wild, windswept moors of Emily Bronte’s fabulous gothic novel. Kindred spirits, they are, those two!
Kate’s a woman with an immense talent, a talent so rare that it’s found only in a chosen few. (Naturally, I’m one of this elite company of peeps myself, lol.) I’ll have her with me when I do my editing and, when I eventually go on to a new writing project, she’ll be there too, inspiring me, encouraging me, keeping me going or even just keeping me company, during those long lonely mornings of writing when I’m so tired I just want to go back to bed, or so dispirited and downhearted about it all that it feels like I’m the only person who’d give a flying eff if I just jacked the whole thing in and never wrote another word. Thanks, Kate, for the memories, and the many moments of pleasure your magical songs have brought me. I wouldn’t have missed out on the chance to love them for the world.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS. (1978) THE BBC ADAPTATION BASED ON THE NOVEL BY EMILY BRONTE. DIRECTED BY DICK COLES. STARRING KEN HUTCHISON, KAY ADSHEAD, PAT HEYWOOD, JOHN DUTTINE, CATHRYN HARRISON, ANDREW BURLEIGH, DAVID ROBB, DAVID WILKINSON, BARBARA KEOGH, BRIAN WILDE AND CAROLINE LANGRISHE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
‘My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath- a source of little delight, but necessary.’ Catherine Earnshaw.
Oh wow. I’ve seen a fair few film-and-TV versions of Emily Bronte’s classic novel in my time, but this one has by far the most rain, the most wind, the most mist, the most water-logged, treacherous moors, the most whipping, and the most destructive, messed-up inter-personal relationships you’ll ever see. I bloody well love it, lol, for all these reasons and more.
It’s the bleakest, grittiest, most depressing and most violent (emotionally and physically) version there is, I do believe, but this is a positive thing and not a bad one. It’s how this book was meant to be filmed, my dears. No Jane Austen light comedy-of-manners, this. This is a book about pain, obsessive love, revenge and endless suffering, and any screen version would do well to remember this as this version does.
In this version, the sins of the father (and mother) are not only visited on the children, but they (the sins!) have brought a mountain of bloody luggage with ’em an’ all, and announced their intention of occupying the back bedroom for the foreseeable future so forget what plans you’ve made for ‘t’ back bedroom, the sins are here to stay and there’s nowt you can get do about it, so you’d best put up and shut up, lol, and get ‘t’ bloody kettle on sharpish.
Wuthering Heights is the rain-washed farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors that houses the Earnshaw family, the family into which the young foundling Heathcliff is first brought by Daddy Earnshaw as an interloper, an outsider, the cuckoo in the nest. Hindley, the real son of the family, loathes Heathcliff with all his being, but the same can’t be said for Hindley’s sister, Catherine…
Catherine grows up mostly without a mother. She’s a tomboy, an expert rider and tree-climber, a free spirit with a wild, tempestuous nature as wild and tempestuous as the moors where she grows up. This wildness and longing for freedom in Cathy’s soul, this contempt for the conventions, finds an answering call in the boorish and brooding Heathcliff’s tormented being. Thus begins the love affair that flies in the face of God and transcends the years and even, eventually, Death itself…
Cathy and Heathcliff are perfect for each other, but that’s not to say that they’re perfect. Their relationship is a passionate, spiteful destructive one, in which two similarly selfish, self-willed, self-centred people butt heads and vie for mastery of each other. Cathy is particularly spoiled and wayward. Heathcliff, one supposes, is merely the product of his painful upbringing, in which Catherine Earnshaw was the only person to show him anything approximating love.
Cathy rejoices in making Heathcliff jealous, in watching him twist himself up in knots for love of her. It hurts him greatly when she discovers the Linton family of Thrushcross Grange across the moors, and makes a favourite of posh Edgar Linton, the rather sissified toff with the stiff upper lip and aristocratic bearing who nonetheless cannot hold a candle to Heathcliff’s enduring passion.
Cathy and Heathcliff bring pain and suffering to those around them. They should really be quarantined and kept apart from other people, the better to not taint them with their particularly vicious brand of twisted love.
But they seem to almost enjoy bringing hurt to others (Heathcliff in particular), and so their fates and fortunes become inextricably linked with those of the Lintons, Edgar of Thrushcross Grange and his younger sister Isabella, and the Lintons will be the worse off by far for it.
They’ll drag their children into it too, and make them good and miserable as well. There’ll be nothing but misery, in fact, for all who are tainted by this destructive affair or amour fou, a crazy, messed-up kind of love. (There’s so much inbreeding going on here, as well, that it makes mental illness in some of the protagonists a very real prospect.)
Throughout it all, Ellen (Nelly) Dean, Cathy’s nurse, stands true and faithful to her darling Catherine, Catherine’s lover Heathcliff and any of the various offspring who are placed in her care and clasped to her motherly bosom.
I daresay she’s frequently an enabler, too, for the most toxic and poisonous man-woman relationship that ever soiled the face of the earth, but at least no-one can question her fidelity to her mistress (Cathy) and master (Heathcliff).
This screen version of the book has the most capricious and temperamental Catherine, the most steadfast Nelly, the most tortured and tormented Heathcliff and the wettest, windiest moors. I remember enjoying my solitary bike rides as a child to a ruined castle on the outskirts of town, where I clambered over the uneven surfaces of the castle floor and looked out the glassless windows across the fields, imagining them to be moors and myself the much-loved and fought-over Cathy.
I couldn’t, at that age, conceive of anything more divinely romantic than a man who loved his girlfriend so much that he would dig up her rotted corpse some twenty years after her death and make love to it, at least with his lips. I guess a career in horror writing was already beckoning, lol.
Graveyards already held a special charm for me and, when I discovered a single unattended grave in the grounds of my ruined castle, well, of course, it just had to be Cathy’s, lying quietly awaiting the arrival of a Heathcliff with a good strong shovel. It might wait there still, for all I know. (Or, most probably, some poxy businessmen might have bought and ‘developed’ the land and turned it into ‘luxury’ apartments, boooooo!)
Kate Bush, my favourite singer of all time, male or female, had obviously felt a similar attraction to this gothic story of doomed love, because she wrote that timeless hit song that had more wildness and passion about it than most of the screen versions of same. This is the kind of story that appeals to people with a gothic, maybe even slightly flawed turn of mind, lol.
If you like the frilly, flouncy, fluffy kind of love that has a happy ending and ties up neatly with a big chocolate-boxy bow, you’d best stick to Jane Austen. But if you want your romance stories to end mainly tragically with only a little teensy-weensy bit of hope left for the future, then Emily’s your man.
Her own sister Charlotte nearly managed to out-romance her in the fabulous classic JANE EYRE, but Emily still pips her to the post. A book with a male character in it who wants, who begs, to be haunted by his dead lover’s ghost on the stormiest of stormy nights on the wiliest and windiest of wiley, windy moors would pretty much pip anyone else’s book to any mouldy old post.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
You can contact Sandra at: