There are a lot of references to music in my Vinyl Tiger novel. Some of it is mainstream music, some not. Sometimes they were just themes that needed a good name drop.
I've put together a playlist on Spotify along with some comments regarding some of the entries and music themes that appear in the first volume of my novel - the 80s, all included below.
Lovebites was the second album by the Buzzcocks. Originally formed in the mid-70s, they were pioneers in the punk music scene. The Buzzcocks line-up changed over the years, but their influence over the indie, punk and Manchester scenes has been enduring. Read more about them here
It’s the kind of music that almost everyone loves today, but just a few decades ago Blondie signalled a complete challenge to the status quo. On Parallel Lines you got the full range of rock, disco and even reggae infused pop, and the blue print for future pop albums.
The range of the disco genre was wide: artists like Donna Summer and Grace Jones, with their natural vocal flair brought some pathos [and camp] to the genre, but for every one of those divas you got more than a couple of Andrea Trues in return. No matter, it was all about the slinky grooves, and if nothing else, we can also thank disco for removing the vocal hurdle which would otherwise have stopped half of the pop/dance acts that arrived in the eighties from achieving what they did.
But before that, filmi, music from films, were by far the most popular song forms in India’s music market. There are certain regal figures in the Indian music scene, among them Manna Day and Lata Mangeshkar. In Vinyl Tiger, the title character spends some formative time in India, collecting music along the way. I imagined him as a kind of early eighties M.I.A, who I think remains without peer when it comes to cannabalizing from the subcontinent and producing something new and provocative.
Acts like Grandmaster Flash would go on to have a lasting effect on hip hop and mainstream music, but it was a handful of artists like Madonna who rode the underground sound right into the mainstream, bringing the new club sound to the masses. And we all know what that particular arrival wound up meaning to pop music.
People are really hard on the eighties. But really, they shouldn’t be. The eighties was the first decade of democratization in pop music. You no longer needed to be a killer vocalist to have a hit record, and you no longer needed to sling a guitar around to be a rock star. You could now just pound away at a keyboard (and not know more than three or four chords). Hell, you could even sling it around your front.
We’re no longer in that wonderful place where anyone has a shot, no matter what they tell you. We live in a world which, thanks to our decade long obsession with talent shows, thinks that having a great vocal range makes you a great artist. But it’s also a piecemeal world where more and more, the mainstream means something less.
Very fortunate to have been recently listed among Book of the Day's recommended titles and to have had the chance to have a chat with Divine Magazine about writing, researching and outing.
Divine also have a fantastic review of my novel on their website.
Feeling very humbled by the interest and support I've been receiving for my debut novel.
There's a couple of more detailed posts over on my press page but you can check out Vinyl Tiger (and other recommended books) over at Bookoftheday or, read the interview with Divine here.
I've just put together a new section on the blog dedicated to Vinyl Tiger.
It's a round up of press, behind the scenes/excerpt materials and information about stockists as well.
You'll find it up on the menu bar or it can be accessed via this link.
I'm working on some different little things as part of the February/March blog tour and promotion that I'm running to celebrate the fact that the ebook is coming to ibooks, Kobo and Nook among other retailers this coming Valentine's Day.
It's heartening as a newbie fiction writer to have people willing to get behind you and help you spread the word.
I'm also now just starting the editing of a new manuscript that I've been working on, and will be really keen for your feedback.
If you're interested in hearing more or getting the first reads, make yourself heard!
As a bit of an introduction I'll tell you that it's a shorter, softer project than Vinyl Tiger was, and this time it's set in 1990s suburbia. The title is coming and going right now, but it's definitely a more intimate story with a bit of a YA (young adult) angle to it, so I'm excited to see in which direction it's going to go.
Thanks for popping by the blog today!
To celebrate the fact that Vinyl Tiger is coming to the Kobo, ibooks and Barnes & Noble e-book stores this Valentine's Day, I'm delighted to offer you the chance to read an exclusive excerpt from the book.
In the attached excerpt we catch up with Alekzandr in the mid-nineties.
Alekzandr has by this point been crowned both a (p)opportunist and King of Cool and been stripped of the latter accolade time and again. But his knack for reinvention makes this new romantic graduate someone who is usually able to keep things fresh.
But not all pop reinventions are cynical. Sometimes there are bigger things at play. Or littler ones.
In light of the recent Family Day (non)event in Rome, I'm defiantly happy to offer you the chance to read this exclusive excerpt from Vinyl Tiger.
You'll quickly work out why.
For more samples/excerpts click here.
It has been a few weeks now since David Bowie's passing, and I have to say that I'm still caught up in my own form of mourning of him.
I'm celebrating the fact that we got to share the planet with him by listening to his songs all over again, and at the same time, grieving the fact that there will never be anyone like him again.
In many ways, David Bowie was my ultimate, favourite artist. The consummate mix of artistry and pop sensibility.
I remember when I was younger, people used to ask me who my favourite singers or musicians were. I could always fall back on Madonna, because I think culturally, she has excelled at every level, but she wasn't ever really a musician. I admire her musical talent, but I would never put her in the same league as Bowie on that level.
I think a lot of gay/bi men have issues identifying with male artists. It's a theme I touch on throughout my novel, and one that I have experienced myself.
I can rattle off a million names of female artists who I've really, really loved, but really, when it comes to male musical acts there are few who have touched me as deeply as the female acts. Even by the nineties, Bowie was still my male touchstone when I fumbled for an answer. Even back then, there was still no equal to his greatness.
His influence is writ large all over my novel, but thankfully I wrote it at a time when we still had the security of a living, breathing Bowie.
The Vinyl Tiger is an androgynous, pop/performance artist who arrives years after Bowie has already started to craft his magic, but the Vinyl Tiger hits his mark in a new age and a new era.
Throughout the book, Alekzandr, the main character, experiences loss, and reflects on the fact that he manages to outlive many artists who he deemed himself inferior to.
And re-reading a passage about grief today that I wrote, I felt that it would just be timely to point it out, because grief comes in all kinds of forms. Sometimes its everything, you know. Other times you can deal with it.
Clearly, the following paragraph is not in relation to Bowie, but rather, the very human feeling that supposedly makes us different to everyone else.
Perhaps you'll agree with the sentiment.
Grief is an all-encompassing thing. It ticks away under the surface and from its veiled position it attempts to derail anything and everything that stands before it. Grief is the only trace of the things that will forever be denied to us. The future moments, possibilities and promises that we are forced to accept will never eventuate. And the past glories from our own histories that we always thought we, at some point, would be able to relive, regardless of where circumstances may have led us in the meantime.
Vinyl Tiger is available at a range of online stockists (paperback).
To order it via Amazon click here.
If you're an Aussie there are arguably only two terms that you ever needed to use in reference to the music industry and music journalism in general - at least up until the nineties.
Molly or the Pop Guru.
Despite his tendency to mumble, stutter and basically get all his words mixed up when he speaks, or perhaps precisely because of this, Ian "Molly" Meldrum endeared himself to Australia, and to the music industry from early on.
He got his start in the sixties as a dancer, columnist and emerging figure on the Melbourne and London scenes.
But his ability to endear himself to so many was his calling card and soon enough he was approached by the Australian ABC to come up with a youth oriented program. From there, the phenomenon that was Countdown was born.
It was an hour long show in prime time which was a sort of a Top of the Pops scenario. It had a huge hand in making Australia, one of the least populated countries in the Western World, one of the ten biggest record buying markets around the world. Aussies today remain some of the biggest record buyers worldwide.
Molly opened the doors to the Australian market to anyone that was remotely pop oriented, and although he tended to be on the supportive side, he rarely championed artists or acts that he didn't believe in. He broke artists like Madonna to their first mainstream audiences and a performance or appearance on Countdown would routinely drive record sales up by up to 400%. In fact one of the criticisms of the show was that it completely dominated the record industry in Australia, its playlist often defining the following week's charts.
Countdown from its 1974 inception to its 1987 demise was a national institution and although it didn't make into the nineties and beyond, Molly endured.
He's just had a fall in Bangkok, but Australia is not having any difficulty in jumping all over his enduring legacy. His long awaited autobiography The Never, Um, Ever Ending Story is currently a best seller and a TV miniseries on his life is about to hit the airwaves, preceded by a 3 disc compilation album which has already reached the Australian top ten.
I read the 500+ page tome on the plane ride home. It was lightweight, nostalgic and very Countdown centric (it's focused mostly on his Countdown years). But there were a few really lovely moments such as the quote by Jim Keays of The Masters Apprentices.
I used to have a go at Molly for always pushing lightweight pop stuff. But one day he told me that acts such as Kylie are the catalyst that got young kids in music. For a long time, I didn't see it, but he's absolutely right. And now I realise how important that is. He is fostering the acts that will get people involved in music.
Molly and Countdown were huge influences on me growing up in Australia. I initially wanted to be a music journalist when I was younger and back then some of my friends used to joke that I was a pop guru in the making.
I never pursued that path, but I made sure to make numerous references in Vinyl Tiger to Molly, Countdown and the state of the music industry in Australia in what were my formative years.
Get well Molly! You're a stumbling, bumbling national treasure.
THE team at Queerdeer were kind enough to have a chat with me about me and the Vinyl Tiger book.
As a thanks, I've made an excerpt (the Brooklyn chapter) available for readers.
Visit here to read more (and to support this wonderful site!).
Additionally there's a goodreads giveaway currently running for the paperback version of my book. You can find it here.
THE team at the Becausetwomenarebetterthanone have been kind enough to let me do a guest post on their blog.
In addition to some info about one of the themes of the book and about moi, there is also a short excerpt from Vinyl Tiger which is now available in paperback form.
As a thanks, the blog are offering up a free ebook version of my novel to one lucky reader.
Visit the blog to find out how to enter, and to discover other M/M fiction and authors that you may not have otherwise had the chance to discover yet.
Occasionally people do things without an ulterior motive.
And those people are the kind of people we should champion.
Michelle Rae and the Moral Fortitude website are a boon for LGBT writers and the website deserves a look. Why?
Because motivated by a passion for supporting self published authors, writers and cover designers, the Moral Fortitude website offers up promotion and support for those trying to get projects up and running that the mainstream press sometimes have some issues in getting behind. And Michelle also gives authors a chance to answer some pertinent questions about LGBT writing and the creative process in general.
Michelle has been kind enough to feature Vinyl Tiger and as a result, also cooked up some questions for me to stew on.
You can read the resulting interview here.
Very pleased to announce that Vinyl Tiger is now available exclusively via Amazon's Kindle store.
Even if you don't have a kindle, you can download Vinyl Tiger (and thousands of other titles) to your PC/tablet or mobile using Amazon's free kindle software.
Vinyl Tiger is the story of Alekzandr, an eighties club/disco act who is a little musically challenged. But he's got a strong look, loves a bit of kohl and knows what to do in front of a camera. And with the arrival of the music video, which revolutionizes the music industry, he might just be able to be something more than a one hit wonder.
Vinyl Tiger is a reflection on how much popular culture has changed since the 1980s. Alekzandr may well be a new romantic, but he's also a heart breaker. His story is the story that so many of us share: the one where we try and reconcile our desires and ambitions with the world around us and the people in our lives...it's just that his plays out against the backdrop so many of us grew up in: that of 80s and 90s popular culture.
And yes, he's a gay male pop star, because every great male pop star should be, but, as we discover through the course of the story, that's just a categorization: another obstacle that he has to overcome...and one that's ultimately irrelevant. Because a pop icon's job is to push the culture forward and to make waves, not just music.
Vinyl Tiger is available now via Amazon kindle.
KindleUnlimited and Prime members have access to special/free offers.
Publications like Rolling Stone, NME, Slant, Spin and Sputnik are experts in music.
When I find free time I love scanning through the endless "Greatest (Pop) Albums" lists that they produce to see if I agree or to see if I've missed something along the way.
As you might know, much of my time has recently been devoted to writing my debut novel. "Vinyl Tiger" is as much about the story of Alekzandr as it is a tribute to pop music, pop culture and to the collaborative spirit that often makes art so powerful.
At a certain point, I started to organise the story into chapters that captured the events and spirit of Alekzandr's life as it changed in and around each of the albums he was making.
Soon, the idea of writing the book became one of imagining it as the kind of pop album I love listening to.
For me a good pop album is full of different things. It can be pulpy or lightweight and still have meaning. A great pop album has moments of fun, its ups and downs, and tracks or moments that pack an emotional punch long after you've finished listening to them.
So that became my working goal as I wrote "Vinyl Tiger" and once it was sent off for editing. To make a "great pop album" that is more than just one thing. And because I can't sing to save myself I had to rely on my words to try and achieve those things instead.
You can get more information about Vinyl Tiger on the Facebook page
or download the first chapter of the novel here. (Just be warned, it's been written for adults, so it's a bit racy people!)
Vinyl Tiger will be released on Nov. 16 via Amazon/Kindle.
Other formats and platforms to follow.
It's available for pre-order here.
Note: scroll down to the end of the post to download the Vinyl Tiger introductory chapter/PDF (suitable for adults only!)
Or read on if you'd like a little bit of insight into one of the themes before downloading it.
AUSTRALIANS are pretty well known for their wanderlust.
Young and old, people often feel the need to just get away and live somewhere that's far away, old or unfamiliar.
Some choose places where the language and the customs are unfamiliar. Others places where the history and culture are palpable. Others still choose to pack up and leave to forge a career elsewhere, chasing opportunities that a small country they might love can't otherwise offer.
I'm one of the many Australians who let wanderlust and the desire to follow my heart take me away. As much as Australia is always "home" to me, I've lived and worked for a great deal of my life in foreign places. London, Kyoto, Rome...and now the south of Italy.
As an outsider, you can't ever really predict how well you're going to mesh with a place. The motivations that took you there in the first place can be critical or prove to be pointless when it comes to the people you meet and the life you carve out for yourself.
In Vinyl Tiger, Alekzandr's departure from Australia isn't just the usual right of passage we tend to associate those big scale moves with. His forms part of another category: that of unplanned refuge.
He jumps at the first chance to escape a future that he sees no value or hope in. And so the opportunities and desire to do something interesting and challenging sets him on a journey that will eventually take him to a variety of places around the world.
Wanderlust and the idea of following our hearts- even across the continents and at great, personal cost, - is at the heart of the first chapter of Vinyl Tiger, and I'm delighted to offer you the chance to read it here (by clicking on the attachment below).
So, enjoy this exclusive excerpt - the first chapter from Vinyl Tiger - and use it to discover the starting points of Alekzandr's quest to live an interesting life.
I hope you enjoy discovering how he begins to try and soothe the restless wanderlust that lurks within during his formative years.
If you like what you read, please feel free to share it around with others.
But be warned: Alekzandr's life is a racy one, so this material is only suitable for adults.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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