No (wo)man is an island – and no writer can write in a bubble. So sometimes I feel the need to ‘come over all cultural’ and look beyond books to other art forms. (Be warned: the following will in no way dispel any growing suspicion you have that I wasn’t The Coolest Kid at school.)
Once upon a time I was a bit of a thesp, and I considered a career treading the boards. Then I grew up and realised that while I can hold a tune and do a fairly convincing woe-is-me monologue, I’m no prima donna. So I settle for being a member of the audience when I can, locally and in London. I’ve seen too many productions to list, but my favourites are from musical theatre: Chicago, Phantom, Les Mis, Oliver, Guys and Dolls, Anything Goes,The Producers and Wicked.
The first movie I ever saw was The NeverEnding Story. I was totally lost in the plot, and petrified of the Nothing, but utterly enchanted by this thing called film. Many, many movies later, as an undergrad, I took a course in film studies, which made me watch films a little more critically but no less avidly. Movie night’s a cause for mass excitement in my home. Especially if there’s microwave popcorn.
I love music. Love music. Plato said it best: ‘Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.’ Sadly, I can’t write to music (I get distracted by the lyrics), so instead I start each writing session with an iTunes blast. I share my Ceruleans playlist in this guest post at The Book Bratz.
The colours, the shapes, the textures, the mastery: they inspire me. I especially like the works of modern artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Joan Miró and Roy Lichtenstein. One of my favourite places on the planet is the Tate Modern in London (which is why I chose ‘Tayte’ as my pen name when I first published The Ceruleans).
I don’t get overly excited about chunks of old pottery, but there’s plenty of stuff in museums that does speak to my muse. I love fashion exhibitions at the V&A, London, for example, and I once spent several hours hunting for an exhibit about my great-grandfather, an inventor, in the Science Museum.
Many years ago I got roped into taking an Architecture Foundation river cruise in Chicago, Illinois. I expected to yawn my way through it. But no – I was blown away. That was the day I started noticing buildings. Now, I don’t pretend to know a single thing about architecture, but I like it. I get a decent fix of architecture on my old uni campus in Nottingham, from the iconic Trent Building, where I once studied, to new designs like the Orchard Hotel, where I’ve written prolifically.