ule 36 in the golden rulebook of being an author: write
about what you know. l'nless you‘re a comedian or a
musician. 'l’hen. it’ you write about “hat you knoyy. prepare l‘or an onslaught ol‘ \‘itriol and patronising \yhich. depending on the thickness ol‘your skin. may haye you rushing back to your l‘ormer sell‘.
The latest Victim ol‘ what we could term ':\drian lidmondson Syndrome‘ is Louise Wener. 'l'he lissex—born. .\lanchester-educated yyoman made a name l’or hersell' during the heyday of Britpop with a series ol~ hit albums and punchy music—press statements during her reign as the queen ol~ Sleeper (remember the raging debates about 'l'hatcher. Vegetarians and oral sex'.’).
She also once stated that the tongue was her main \yeapon. Now. it's the laptop she's \y'ielding. But what ol‘ the ineyitable cries from the more cynical sectors ol‘the media that a musician's debut noyel being about the music industry is as predictable as an ()asis chord sequence'.’
’(ieorge ()ryyell wrote about the Spanish ('iy'il \Var becaUse he was there as a young man and I don’t think people said: "( )oh. (ieorge ()mell. hoyy dare you write about the Spanish (‘iyil Wat?” sighs \‘y'ener. ';\ll noy'elists write about something that is central to them on some ley'el whether it's a personal experience or y\ hether it's about the things they'\ e done in their liy'es.~
And. alter all. while it won't be setting benchmarks in literary lllsltil'y. (rum/High] .SH'H' .l/t'QHH’II happens It) lk‘ at line old contemporary read. lts eponymous protagonist's mum loy'ed the rugged actor. so much so that she gay'e her son his name. btit our hero has liyed his me trying to shed the yy eight of that moniker.
l’erhaps l'oolishly. he has attempted a career in the pop yyorld. but l‘ortunately his colleagues. .\latty and Vince are as leckless and largely unmotiyated as he is. .'\nd lame has ney er threatened to tap on their yyindoyy. But now. Steye has had an ultimatum lrom his girllriend .-\lison. (iet a proper job and stop lounging around all day long. \yatching tedious 'l‘\' and drinking her Bacardi Bree/ers. And so. a real career on the road is pursued \\ ith l'airly liilai'ious consequences.
You may haye spotted the lyylsl. Wener has written lroin a
10 THE LIST '-
‘The literary world is less judgmental than the music one’
When the Sleeper leader put down her guitar and picked up a pen, the cynics scoffed. LOUISE WENER may have the last laugh with her witty take on the music industry. \"‘.’or<l5;: Brian Donaldson
male perspectiye. and is keeping to the line thrown out by the likes ol‘ \Vill Sell‘ and Alan \Varner \yhen they'ye been challenged on their predilection l‘or writing out of the mind ol the opposite gender. ‘lt was partly because I wanted to write about music and about being in a band. and I didn't want to simply write my story.. she states. ‘So. I thought it was a way of stepping out ol’ my own experience and being a male character in that eny‘ironment l'reed me tip to make it more ol‘ a liction.~
llL‘l‘L‘ comes the Sell/Warner bit. ‘\\'lltll l L‘llllSL‘ [U do \ytts write as the character Stey e McQueen: that was his character. not whether he was male or l‘emale. I spent so long touring with guys and being party to all that banter. and it was something I wanted to get across:
And while \Vener has lonnd her l‘eet easily on another career path ('the literary yyorld is lessjudgmental and cynical than the inusic one' ). she still keeps an eye on the liL‘ld sltC gratel’ully left behind. ‘lt seems a bit bland. really especially in terms ol‘ what women are doing within it. It seems to be returning to a world of models with llat stomachs and there are a lot ol‘ puppets out there.
‘But I think the record companies are a little scared ol what they take on. they just take on things that will be sure—lire marketing tools: the "let’s get them out there like a tin ol' beans" kind ol‘ thing. lt Used to be easier l'or guitar bands to get a record deal or heard on radio.’
\\'ener may not miss battling for airplay but \y'restling tor room on the bookshelyes appears to haye ayyakened her spirit.
Goodnight Steve McQueen is published by Flame, £10; Louise Wener reads at Borders, Glasgow, Thu 15 Aug, 7pm.
‘There are a lot of puppets and models with flat stomachs out there’