Monday, 27 June 2011

Open House Day 28 - Guy Adams

So I’ve been asked to write a guest blog slot. Which is nice. But, you know... what to say? I’m the guy at a party of strangers, staring at the bookshelves and finding new and interesting stains on my tie.

I wish you weren’t strangers, naturally, I’m sure I’d love each and every one of you given a few moments, a drop of wine and something seductive on the stereo. Still, there’s no point arguing with circumstance, we’re stuck to laughing too loud at each others jokes and discussing the weather until we manage to find some common ground.

Restoration: The World House, Book 2   “Talk about your influences,” suggests Lee Harris, of Angry Robot (publishers of my new novel Restoration... plug plug... but if that’s all I talked about you’d have me pegged as a party bore from the off). Okay... influences... that I can do. But let’s make it a little more interesting. People always talk about the novels they’ve read, the authors they admire... and I could do that, hell yes... I could do it until you tried to drown yourself in the taramasalata or slash your wrist with a potato chip. But I won’t. I’ll talk about something outside of prose that has had a direct influence on my writing. Cunning, huh? Well... let’s let hindsight judge that one...

Music. My taste in music is the source of some discussion in my house. It’s a fat, drunken thing inclined towards anti-social behaviour. It prances around the office in stained, jiggling Y-fronts. It’s breath would make a goat faint. My taste in music is the alcoholic uncle who visits at family holidays and ends up throwing up in the kitchen sink or masturbating during the dessert course. Nobody can get along with my record collection. Everybody accepts its presence in the house but you can tell by the nervous look in their eyes that their hoping we’ll fall out one day and I’ll demand it leave and never come back.

They all like pretty music you see, melodic tunes, things you can sing along to while smiling. I like noise. I like atmosphere that drips and leaves grease stains on your ears. Ennio Morricone can often be heard heavy breathing while Sigur Ros waffle on in their own made up language. There’s a lot of soundtracks -- Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman’s Ravenous or James Horner’s Sneakers are particular favourites. There’s a fair amount of electronica (my frequent threats to build a theremin make my stepsons cry in shame). All have created an atmosphere while I work that has led -- directly -- to my work changing as a result. Sound colours a room and, while I’m sat in that room, it’ll colour me too.

One gentleman that has helped no end is Tom Waits. I listen to Waits a lot. In fact, when I’m writing he beats the competition hands down. My partner -- surprisingly -- doesn’t hate him as much as she does some of my other “turns”. She refers to him affectionately as “Father Christmas” as she believes Waits is what the seasonal chubster would sound like if he moonlighted at a few clubs. You can see why I love her. You can see why I want to dress up in a red suit at Christmas and awaken strange children with a quick verse of “Tango ‘til You’re Sore” too. It would be fun right up until the jail sentence.

I genuinely don’t know where I’d be without him, he’s seen me through so much. There are so many scenes I’ve written where he was kind enough to loiter behind me seeing what kind of noise you could make by sexing an old Chevrolet with a nail gun. His approach to music is inspirational -- and I wish I could claim I was so brave, I hope to be someday -- he says: “I like things that weren’t intended to be instruments being used as instruments. Things that have never been hit before. I’m always looking for those things; things that have been out in a field somewhere, or that you find in the gutter. I bring those things home.” Anyone at all creative should think about that notion, therein lies diamonds... We all strive for freshness, for new noises, perhaps we should stop looking in all the same old, tired places. For all the boom, clank, steam of his music -- that throaty, industrial clatter that brings to mind a vomiting steam train -- there is delicacy too, and humour that leaps from the observational to the ludicrous without a moment’s hesitation. His music brings everything to the table. It knows that life doesn’t theme itself like a TV show, all emotion is there and happening concurrently. You’re laughing now but you’ll be sobbing later, then horny as hell or screaming in fear... maybe you’ll even experience all four at once. Now that would be a party worth attending. Make your art interesting, don’t be precious about it, entertain (others and yourself) and never be afraid of hitting something new, it might just make the best noise you ever heard.

Guy Adams trained and worked as an actor for twelve years before becoming a full-time writer. He is the co-author of The Case Notes of Sherlock Holmes, has written several tie-ins to the TV series Life on Mars. His most recently published novel is Restoration, the follow-up to the much-praised horror novel, The World House. To find out more visit


  1. Excellent post, Guy!

    'Music', in an even looser sense than your definition, has been a constant in my life since my teen years - I like noise too, but here I am talking about harsh electronic noise, industrial grind, dark ambient, avant-garde bleepiness and other such nonsense. Most people look at me blankly when I mention artists like Merzbow, Nurse With Wound, Coil, Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle and Current 93. I can't even explain WHY I mostly prefer material that has the cheek to not even possess a beat, let alone a melody. Or music that sounds just like a rusty old rocket engine sputtering out its last hurrah before croaking in a welter of freeform chaos. People just think that somewhere in this brain of mine are more than a few loose connections (which may actually be true...). If you want to have a look at how it's influenced me, you only need look at my artwork... =)

    I DO like more 'normal' music, as long as it's got something interesting to say. I find most 'modern' music (in the sense of commercial, that is) to be mindlessly boring and inane. I'm one of those souls who ignores the obvious and gets the jackhammer out and digs a little deeper just to see what lurks beneath the surface. I'm the one nosing through bargain bins, or scrutinising the secondhand CDs in charity shops, in the hope that I'll find something weird and wonderful (and yes, it has happened - found a copy of The Butthole Surfer's "Independent Worm Saloon" in an out of the way Oxfam shop of all places...). Music, for me, is about the unexpected, the dangerous and the downright surprising - I just wish sometimes that others would see it the same way I do... =)

  2. BTW, that was Simon Marshall-Jones who wrote the above comment.... wouldn't let me publish it under my Wordpress account... gah!

  3. He's a good old writer, that Adams.