‘Cheekbones like geometry…’

There are countless songs inspired by great works of literature. Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ (Animal Farm), and Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’ (Frankenstein) for starters, while The Smiths’ ‘Cemetery Gates’ name checks a whole anthology of poets. But does it work the other way? In other words, how many books are inspired by great lyrics?

This isn’t a test. I don’t have the answer. I just ask because I’m curious. And because so much of what I write is dependent on music – for when I’m thinking, for when I’m tired of thinking, to define and describe characters, to naming them (Buttercup Jones in Buttercup Mash is stolen from the Foundations’ ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’).

And because I’m starting to wonder if pillaging the back catalogues of Morrissey, Floyd, Carter and the rest of the ‘poets’ who got me through the teen years (I didn’t do English A level, for many tedious reasons, partly to do with precociousness, partly to do with an evil beardy teacher, so only discovered Keats last month) might prove fertile ground.

I long to write the girl with ‘cheekbones like geometry’ (thank you, Lloyd Cole), The Stone Roses’ ‘Sally Cinnamon’, Billy Bragg’s ‘Cindy of 1,000 Lives’, or maybe just ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’. Don’t you? Don’t you wonder what happens to them after the three perfect pop minutes are up and all you can hear is static…?


About Joanna Nadin

A former broadcast journalist and special adviser to the prime minister, since leaving politics I’ve written more than 80 books for children and adults, as well as speeches for politicians, and articles for newspapers and magazines like The Guardian, Red and The Amorist. I also lecture in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and hold a doctorate in young adult literature. I’m a winner of the Fantastic Book Award and the Surrey Book Award, and have been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Booktrust Best Book award and Queen of Teen among others, and twice nominated for the Carnegie Medal, for Everybody Hurts, and for Joe All Alone, which is now a BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated BBC TV series. I've also worked with Sir Chris Hoy on the Flying Fergus series and ghost-written Angry Birds under another name. I like London, New York, Essex, tea, cake, Marmite, mint imperials, prom dresses, pubs, that bit in the West Wing where Donna tells Josh she wouldn’t stop for a red light if he was in an accident, junk shops, crisps, Cornwall, St Custard’s, Portuguese custard tarts, political geeks, pin-up swimsuits, the Regency, high heels, horses, old songs, my Grandma’s fur coat, vinyl, liner notes, the smell of old books, the feel of a velveteen monkey, Guinness, quiffs, putting my hand in a bin of chicken feed, the 1950s, burlesque, automata, fiddles, flaneuring, gigs in fields on warm summer nights, Bath, the bath.
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