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Fill Your Heart: Writers on Bowie

An anthology of writers inspired by David Bowie by Tiffany Murray

  • https://unbound.com/books/bowie

The Synopsis

The photos that appear in the video are © Iconic Images/Terry O’Neill

‘I still don’t consider myself a performer. I’m a writer….’ (David Bowie, Melody Maker, 1969)

Unbound celebrate David Bowie.

Our mourning isn’t over, but we want to write, we’ve got to write: to him, for him, about him. Fill Your Heart: Writers On Bowie is an anthology by some of our greatest contemporary writers. It is an anthology celebrating David Bowie with creativity. Whether a short story, a poem, a piece of memoir, psychogeograhy or creative non-fiction, these pieces will be personal responses to Bowie, to his shaping work and influence.

Edited by the novelist Tiffany Murray, this will be an important celebration, possibly a strange, mad celebration, but it is for anyone who was and is inspired by David Bowie and his work.

Fill Your Heart will be creating something new, a bold anthology that in some way shows us all how Bowie sparked each generation’s imaginations: how he made us.

Let’s spark together.

Contributors to include:

Contributors so far: Simon Armitage, Paul Burston, Peter Carpenter, Horatio Clare, Imtiaz Dharker, Roddy Doyle, Stella Duffy, Charles Fernyhough, Neil Gaiman, Ryan Gattis, William Gibson, Niven Govinden, Lavinia Greenlaw, Nick Harkaway, Tom Hickox, Dr Sarah Hill, Sam Illingworth, Dylan Jones, John Kelly, Gary Kemp, Rory Maclean, Suzanne Moore, John Niven, Daniel Rachel, Sarah Salway, Owen Sheers, Sjón, Wesley Stace, Rupert Thomson, VIZ, Evie Wyld, Louisa Young…and counting.

The Excerpt

John Niven: In Memory Of The Thin White Duke

I came quite late to loving David Bowie. Of course I’d heard him throughout my teens, but this was the mid-Eighties and he was in his full Let’s Dance period of commercial success, a period he later described as a “creative and artistic nadir” (and, man, looking back, how many artists would sell a kidney to be able to describe something like Let’s Dance as a nadir?). Anyway, I was a young punk, not too inclined towards tuxedos, bleached hair and gigantic snare sounds.

Then I went to Glasgow University, where I shared a room with my friend Alan. Alan, it turned out, loved Bowie. We had a ritual: when we went to our beds at night we’d put a side of an album on to send us off to sleep, taking turns to choose the record. Alan would often go for Bowie, more often than not for Hunky Dory, his favourite album. More often than not, for side two of Hunky Dory.

Now, Alan was one of those people who could just go to bed and go to sleep immediately. This is a superpower I do not have. So it would be me who was still lying awake in that big Victorian room – with its dimpled gas fire, swirly patterned carpet and the sound of Alan’s snoring – nearly 30 minutes later as The Bewlay Brothers ground its way to a climax.

I could not believe the Let’s Dance guy wrote this song. I was staggered by its musical and lyrical complexity (“I was stone and he was wax so he could scream and still relax, unbelievable”). With most artists you come to love there has to be a gateway track, and here was mine. From there I went on to explore the whole catalogue and it became part of the fabric of my musical life – as it was for so many people…

This week and a half, the outpouring of grief on social media has felt unprecedented in my lifetime. He was not young, yet not so very old either. It was perhaps more than anything the fact that he seemed so far from finished artistically, that he had only released a new and critically lauded record the week before, a record we now know he made in the full and frank knowledge of his imminent death.

As writer Graeme Thomson pointed out on Twitter, in perhaps the best-phrased comment of that dreadful morning, “We were so thrilled to have him back we failed to notice he was saying goodbye.”

And then, right at the end of that day, came something I was completely unprepared for. A music business friend in New York forwarded me an email. In it he said :“It would have been wrong to have sent this on at the time, but on this very sad day I thought you should see it…”

I read down. He had forwarded on an email that said “Have you read Kill Your Friends by John Niven? Mad, funny, music biz novel.” That was all. It was from David Bowie (who my friend knew personally) and was dated 15 November 2015. David Bowie – reading one of my novels and finding it funny. David Bowie – taking the time to email a friend to recommend it. David Bowie who, at that point, had seven weeks left to live.

And, yes, I know the grief police of the internet are already in high dudgeon about people indulging in overt displays of emotion for a man they never knew personally, and, no, I am not a sentimental man, but at this point I thought of Alan and me 30 years ago, teenagers in a cold Glasgow flat, lying in our beds in the dark, listening to Hunky Dory. And I broke down at my desk and cried.

Of course we do not just weep for the star we didn’t know. If you are of a certain age, you weep because it reminds you of all the people you have already lost. It reminds you of all the people you will soon lose. If you have children, it reminds you of the fact that one day they will lose you. Death smiles at us all, as they say.

If Death has the brass balls to come for someone who lived as fearlessly – who was creating with such life force right up until the end – as David Bowie then, dear God, what will Death do with the rest of us?

Read more...

The Author

Tiffany Murray is a novelist and screenwriter. Her first two novels, Happy Accidents (4th Estate: 2014) Diamond Star Halo (Portobello: 2010 were shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize. Diamond Star Halo tells the story of Halo Llewelyn and her unconventional family who run a recording studio in rural Wales: a story of first love and rock n' roll it drew comparisons with Dodie Smith's I Capture The Castle. Her third novel, Sugar Hall (Seren: 2014) is set on the Welsh border and explores the inheritance of slavery in a post-war rural landscape. It was listed in ‘David Mitchell’s 6 Favourite Ghost Stories’ (The Week).

Tiffany has been a Hay Festival fiction fellow, a Fulbright scholar and Senior Lecturer. She is currently working on a memoir, The Rock n’ Roll Cook about her early years sharing a childhood and home with rock stars. She is also adapting Diamond Star Halo as a feature. Tiffany continues academic research in the areas of Caribbean literature, women’s studies and creative writing. David Bowie’s music is her first love and probably her last.

Questions & Answers

Hi

Great idea for a book .

Can you let me know who will sign the 'collectible' edition? Is it all the authors involved.

Thanks and good luck with the book.

Andrew

Tiffany Murray Tiffany Murray replied:

Hello Andrew,

Thanks for this. I'm hugely excited about it. Celebrating David Bowie creatively is certainly a dream job.

Re: your question, I will talk to Unbound about this. I have a growing number of contributors and some are in the USA, some Europe, some in the North of England (a long winded way of saying 'not London') so the logistics of every single contributor signing may play a factor but we will endeavour to get pens in the hands of the majority!
(What do Unbound say?)
All best,
Tiffany

Ruth Taylor Ruth Taylor asked:

hello Tiffany. When is your London Bowie night? I want to decide which pledge to make. Thanks

Tiffany Murray Tiffany Murray replied:

Dear Ruth, we're not entirely sure as yet, it certainly won't be before September. Let me ask the Unbound team.
All best, Tiffany

Louisa Young Louisa Young asked:

Hi Tiff -
As one of the authors, which pledge should I choose to support the whole enterprise?
xxx Lou

Tiffany Murray Tiffany Murray replied:

Dear Lou,

Bless you - I'd say spread the word, first! Though if you'd like a nice hardback with your name in the back as well as the front and the middle...? There is of course always the Bowie night....XXX

Ian Reeves Ian Reeves asked:

Hello Tiffany,

Your book idea has been passed on to me by a friend and supporter. It's a great idea, and clearly you already have some fantastic contacts and people with stories to contribute. My memories, like those of others, continue to be jogged every time I think of my teenage hero, and as someone who managed his Big Brother fan club, worked with the Spiders and shared the love David enthused, I continue to be amazed but not surprised by his legacy. Happy to support you project.

Make it happen.

Kind regards,

Ian

Tiffany Murray Tiffany Murray replied:

What a fantastic story yours is, Ian. How long did you manage the fan club, and what did you do with the Spiders? Do share any memories here.
As for this project, as a writer I had to do something to celebrate David's work, to allow it to continue to trigger our imaginations. And you know...it will be a lovely hardback, too. We'd hugely appreciate it if you can spread the word with your wonderful contacts. As for me.....I'm busy chasing more writers. More writers on David's Top 100 Books List...
All best,
Tiffany

Ian Reeves Ian Reeves asked:

Hi Tiffany. Thanks for your speedy response. If you can contact me directly I can give you more information which may well be of use to you, possibly some personal photos of the Spiders and Mick Ronson that have never been seen before, if this is of interest and if you intend using photos in the book, and I can certainly share the details a little further including via Woody's social media streams. I imagine you can get my email address via Unbound. Ian

Tiffany Murray Tiffany Murray replied:

That is super, Ian. Thank you. I will ask the team. Xx

Jay Jolly Jay Jolly asked:

Hi Tiffany
Wow, this sounds so exciting, what a great list of authors! I'm trying to decide which pledge to make - I can see that someone else has asked when the London Bowie night might be - could you tell me a bit about what the night might involve?
Thanks! Jx

Tiffany Murray Tiffany Murray replied:

Dear Jay,

Thank you so much for the support! It is quite a list, isn't it? For quite a man.

Now - the Bowie night- because we don't know when exactly the book will go to print (because this depends upon when the book is pledged) all I can say is that it won't be before Jan 2017 (our intended publication date).

As for the night itself - with musician contributors as part of the book, who knows! It will certainly be well planned ('curated' as they tend to say nowadays) with music and readings at its centre. It will also include as many of the contributors who can actually make it on the night. I'm looking into Soho venues - but obviously at this stage this part of it can't be written in stone.

I hope this helps, do pass the word out there,
all best,
Tiffany

Deb Eisenmann Deb Eisenmann asked:

I still have my ticket stub. Radio City Music Hall. 1974. Only 14, and my life was changed forever. So, this book just has to happen. I'm overjoyed to be able to support your project. No questions. I know it's going to be fantastic.

Tiffany Murray Tiffany Murray replied:

Oh, Deb - this is brilliant. Radio City Music Hall, too. Thank you, thank you for the support, wonderful Superfan. Do pass the word out there - we're overjoyed to have you on board. Huge best, Tiffany x

The Rewards

All supporters get their name printed in every edition of the book. All levels include immediate access to the author's shed.

$15
Digital
E-book edition and your name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $15 32 pledges
$35
Hardback
1st edition hardback book, ebook edition and your name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $35 94 pledges
$45
Collectable
Signed 1st edition hardback book, ebook edition and your name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $45 23 pledges
$65
Poem Prints
A print of one of the poems from the book plus a signed 1st edition hardback book, ebook edition and your name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $65 3 pledges
$75
Bowie Gift Bag
A Bowie gift bag filled with goodies plus a signed 1st edition hardback book, ebook edition and your name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $75 3 pledges
$95
Bowie Night
Two tickets to a London Bowie Night hosted by Tiffany, plus signed 1st edition hardback book, ebook edition and your name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $95 27 pledges
$190
Superfan
Your name listed in the front of the book as a Superfan, plus two tickets to the Bowie Night, signed 1st edition hardback book, ebook edition and your name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $190 1 pledge
$1,250
Patron
Your name printed in the front of the book as the patron with a special thanks, plus two tickets to the Bowie Night, signed 1st edition hardback book, ebook edition and your name in the back of the book