My Catchphrases

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Musical Moments: Guest Post: Colin Mulhern: Rebellion


I am so excited to host a guest post by Colin Mulherne on his musical influence for his book Clash:

Alex: school psycho and under-ground cage-fighting champion. Kyle: talented artist, smart school-boy and funny man. When Alex witnesses a brutal murder at the club he can't go back to The Cage, but without fighting, he starts to lose control. He soon sets his sights on Kyle, a boy he thinks can help. But Kyle has his own problems and he's convinced Alex is one of them. Boys can play dangerous games when they're scared and this one will haunt everyone involved. What will it take for each boy to confront the truth?

Over to Colin:

The Rebellious Writer

I really wanted to include a quote at the beginning of Clash. The quote I very nearly went for was by a punk band called Subhumans, and the track was People Are Scared.

Nobody says anything on buses

And it's not the noise the engine makes

You can watch them all staring nervous

Sit at the back it's the safest place

The majority of the song is about people’s fear of change, of being controlled by your own paranoia. It seems so safe on a personal level, but it escalates and spreads, poisoning the whole of our society. Clash was a reaction to the side of me that kept trying to conform again and again and write what I thought Young Adult fiction should be. I kept getting messages from agents saying I was very close, that my writing was good but the story just didn’t have the edge they wanted. In the end I thought, ‘sod them all,’ and decided to write something purely for myself. Such a rebellious approach (rather than giving up) was fuelled by all those childhood years of listening to punk bands. In writing the first few scenes of Clash, I quickly realised that I’m still the kid who jumped about to the Sex Pistols, Stiff Little Fingers and Angelic Upstarts.

The same theme runs through the story. Both boys have to make difficult choices and learn to stand up for themselves. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but each is put in a situation where they either bottle everything up or fight back. As the book is set in the nineties (though this is never really stated) it was the bands that I listened to in the nineties, not the seventies, that came to mind. So Subhumans was one, the other quote that came to mind is from a band called Napalm Death, the track is called Mentally Murdered:

Do you posses the strength,

To recreate your own life?

I used to have this printed on the back of a t-shirt. Essentially, it means the same as the first quote, but it really sticks out because the band themselves were testament to that attitude. Not many people got Napalm Death, in fact, many metal fans saw Napalm Death as a joke, but they were cutting new paths, trying to convey aggression and social frustration through grinding guitar riffs and distorted vocals. I still think their track “Rise” has the best musical introduction of any rock song.

In the end though, I decided to hold back on a quote and let the book stand on its own. After all, inspiration is just the starting point of a long journey. For me, both quotes are still there, hiding behind the words. So rather than spell it out, I’d prefer readers to pick up on that feeling of rebellious independence for themselves. Who knows, maybe someone out there with a guitar and a few friends might be inspired to pen their own lyrics. That would be class.

Thank you Colin for that insight into the musical influences behind Clash I have to tell you the music choices take me back to my late teens when my walkman (as it was then) was filled with Metallica, Anthrax, The Sex Pistols and even a little Napalm Death. Thanks for the trip down memory lane [ : D ]

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