Saturday, November 17, 2007

Late Night Sessions

Why you chose that particular setting?

I wanted to write about music, musicians and most especially folk. It made sense to use the West midlands folk scene as my setting because I know it fairly well. All of the festivals mentioned in the story either exist, or have done in the past. I made up some of the sessions because those tend to come and go anyway, but otherwise it’s a fairly accurate portrayal.

What does the setting add to the story? The folk scene is a colourful place full of interesting characters and unusual goings on. It’s rather like a large village that has been dispersed across the country, but which reforms whenever it can. Friendships in this community tend to last. Clubs, festivals and sessions create friendly environments in which like minded people can get together, making it the perfect place for a young folk enthusiast to find love.

Could you write the same story in a different setting?

No. The frequency of festivals across the summer (at least one a month in easy driving distance from Birmingham) is essential to the story, and I’m not sure where else I could realistically place such a thing. Given how small a world the folk environment is, it allows people to run into each other without stretching credibility at all.

Why or why couldn't you use a different setting?

The folk world isn’t just about the music – it’s a culture and a community. People tend to look out for each other. As a young single woman, you can wander round a festival alone late at night and feel perfectly safe. If other music genres function in the same way, I’m not aware of it so couldn’t write it anyway.

Did you use a real place as a basis for your setting?

Yes, for the greater part. All of the festivals mentioned in the story are real, or used to exist. The parts of the story set around Malvern also use real places, as are most of the scenes set around Birmingham. The houses are all inventions, as are some of the sessions, but everything else has some real basis. The ford at Coughton, the Feckenham Woodland burial site, Hobgoblin Music store, and others are all real.

Tell us some specific details about your setting. What would we see?

At a typical festival you would see fields full of canvas, with numerous tents and caravans surrounding several big marquees. The ground is muddy and most people wear boots or wellies, because the great British summer can seldom be trusted. There are strains of music in the distance, smells of cooking food and beer. All around, people are conversing in small groups, waving to friends and enjoying themselves. Soon the concerts start, and the chairs in the marquees will with an eager audience. Some time after midnight, the sessions begin, when the real devotees stay up to share songs and music, often singing in the dawn, staggering arm in arm back to tents and sleeping bags.

What sort of people are there?

Everyone from babes in arms to the elderly, although the majority are middle aged, middle class and a touch bohemian. Expect long hair and beards, flowing skirts, tankards worn on belts and an enthusiasm for real ale. Folk people are passionate about their music, story telling and dance, and are generally a laid back, good humoured crowd out to have a good time regardless of the weather.

If we were travelling to your setting, what should we bring with us?

A tent, sleeping bag and other camping kit is advisable. If you play a musical instrument, bring it (if it’s portable) otherwise, be ready to sing. Beer money is essential, and a warm jacket for when things turn cold late at night will serve you well. Come with an open mind – folk is not all hanky waving morris men and beardy guys with their fingers in their ears. It can be young and sexy too. Or old and sexy for that matter.

For visitors, what do they need to know to visit your setting?

If you are polite, responsible and follow the perfectly reasonable instructions you may get from the stewards, then you will have a good time. It’s always colder than you expect it to be, and there is usually mud so come prepared!

Thank you for sharing details about your book setting. Now, what's the title of your book and where can we buy it?

Late Night Sessions

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