The Pink Heart Society columnist Kate Hardy is up today with her firest ever Soundtrack Thursday.
I’ve used music as inspiration and background for years. Back in the 90s, I even had a German translation with a blurb that included ‘mit Musik von Vivaldi und Bon Jovi’ – that still makes me smile! (It was ‘Bed of Roses’, since you ask. And I know certain Modern Heat authors will appreciate that one – won’t they, Kimberly Lang??
But it’s particularly appropriate for my current book, because...
Um. How do I put this? Well, it’s an office romance. But it’s one of my books, so of course there’s a twist. The office, um, involves these.
What exactly is this? It’s a Gondola switchback (a fairground ride dating from the late 1800s - this one is at Thursford in Norfolk, UK), and in the middle there’s a fairground organ. (This is important for a key scene in the book.)
What kind of tunes do these fairground organs play? Well, I dragged husband and kids off on several research trips to find out. (DH, looking puzzled: ‘Why do you want to go THERE?’ Kids, in chorus: ‘Dad, wake up. It’s for her new book.’) It was an excellent excuse to try out some vintage fairground rides and to chat to the ride operators about how the organs work – it seems that it’s a bit like a pianola. (Lightbulb went immediately in the back of my head. Oho. So I could have any tune I like?)
There are the obvious choices, such a medley from Mary Poppins or traditional English summer holiday tunes such as ‘Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside’.
But my book needs rather different songs to soundtrack it, because my heroine is a big fan of show tunes. This is partly inspired by my daughter, who’s in her school choir and has been practising at home for concerts. Some of them involved songs from Grease, so she asked me for the soundtrack and the DVD. And she loved them so much that I’ve ended up buying some of the musicals I remember watching with my mum when I was my daughter’s age. West Side Story, The King and I, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain. (Not to mention having a GREAT excuse for family nights out at the theatre…)
There’s really nothing like a musical. Especially ones with songs that stay in your head and you can sing to in the car – songs that cheer you up on rainy days, or sometimes are just a good excuse to bawl your eyes out when you’re really stressed. I’d normally reach for a romance novel by one of my favourite authors in those circumstances, but watching a musical can work just as well.
Sharing these songs and shows with my eight-year-old has been a real delight – even thirty-odd years later, they haven’t lost their magic for me, and it’s lovely to see her enjoying them as much as I did at that age: the glitzy bits, the beautiful tunes, and of course the love stories. And some of these, I know my mum saw with her mother; and then when she saw them with me no doubt she had the same bittersweet memories of sharing them with her own mother and wishing she was still around to share them with the next generation. In some respects, it puts a lump in my throat and makes me miss my mum terribly; but at the same time, it’s so comforting and heart-warming the same pleasure can echo down the generations. In twenty or thirty years’ time, maybe I’ll be sharing these same songs with my daughter and her daughter. (I might even have learned to play them on the piano by then with both hands, not just pick out the melody with the right hand…!)
So now enquiring minds (all right, Kate Nosey) would love to know: what’s your favourite musical or your favourite show tunes?
I’ve already mentioned some of mine, but the songs I begged my guitar teacher to help me arrange recently are My Favourite Things, Somewhere, and Hushabye Mountain. And that last one… I’m going to put a YouTube link here to one of the most beautiful versions I’ve ever heard, by Julian Lloyd Webber. It’s just gorgeous. Enjoy.
In the UK, you can still get the second in Kate’s To Tame a Playboy duo, Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion. In Australia Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh is out now; and in the US you can still get The Millionaire Boss's Reluctant Mistress (a Presents Extra reprint of the first in Kate’s Posh Docs trilogy, Her Celebrity Surgeon) or an early copy of Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh. They’re also available on the US and Aus Harlequin websites, and the UK Mills and Boon website.
You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website and her blog