Saturday, January 19, 2008

If you knew Nina

Shauna Roberts asks, "I've been wondering, Carleen, since I'm not familiar with Nina Simone's music, whether you think I would enjoy your book more if I got a Nina Simone album before I read it?"

First of all, sounds like you're going to read Orange Mint and Honey, and for that I thank you!! To answer your question, I don't think the reader really needs to know Nina Simone in order to get her role in my book. However, to not know Nina Simone would really be a loss (and knowing her music probably would increase your enjoyment of the story). So, yes, pick up a CD or two or check out several of her videos on my website where I have sort of a Nina Simone primer.

I had a glass of wine the other night with Bella Stander and Karen Mack who was in town (with her writing partner Jennifer Kaufman) to promote A Version of the Truth (They also wrote Literacy and Longing in LA). When I told Karen that Nina Simone is in my novel, she said something like, "Is Nina Simone having a recurrence? It seems like people are talking about her more." I thought it was just me--being sensitive to Nina sightings (like the reference in Before Sunset) because I was writing about her. As we were discussing it, a young waitress stopped and asked "Are you guys talking about Nina Simone? Did I hear you say her daughter sings?" So sometimes it does seem like Nina Simone and her fans are everywhere.

Just curious: How many of you know Nina Simone's music?

Thanks Shauna for the question!


Sassy Sistah said...

Hi Carleen,

I've been "catching up" with your blog. I love your writing and can't wait for the book! I do know Nina Simone's music, although I didn't until I read "Cubicles." At least, I think that's the first time I read about her. I went on to buy "Nina Simone Sings the Blues" and fell in love. I'm glad her music is becoming more widely known. I'd love to read her biography.

Shauna Roberts said...

And thanks, Carleen, for your answer!

Isn't it interesting how books sometimes lead us to music and music leads us to books?

Lisa said...

I only discovered her when I read the ARE of Orange Mint and Honey (although I knew her name), and I'm glad I did. She makes me think of Billie Holiday.

Carleen Brice said...

Hi Sassy, Now I've got to check out Cubicles. I haven't heard of that one.

Shauna, What music has led you to books? Anything you recommend?

Lisa, Billie and Nina were both one of a kind. Love them each for different reasons.

Sherry said...

I like this question and this post!!!

I did not know Nina Simone until you started talking about her in reference to OMH...and then you had some Nina playing on your blog and I loved the sound...

Carleen Brice said...

Sherry, I'm sad I had to take the music off the blog, but I like to post videos too often and the music messes with the video sound.

Julie Layne said...

I was at a Damien Rice concert about a year ago, and they played "I put a spell on you" over the sound system as we were walking out after the concert. I was mesmerized. Kept asking my companions who it was and nobody knew, and I had to go home and look it up and put it on my project playlist box immediately.

I still don't own any of her music, but I can say that song put a spell on me for sure. It seemed so appropriate leaving the Damien Rice concert because he certainly puts a spell on me when I listen to him.

I think the references to her and also noticing you were from Denver were what caught my attention the first time I browsed to your website.

Music has led me to many of my story ideas, and my working titles have almost all been song titles.

Shauna Roberts said...

Carleen, you asked what music had led me to books.

When I first started playing Medieval and Renaissance music 25 years ago, I became interested in the society that created it and have read lots of history books and biographies since, especially of the strong and remarkable women of the time such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Heloise, Catherine de Pisan, Abbess Hildegard von Bingen, and Elizabeth I of England.

Later, I became particularly enchanted by the music of medieval Spain when it was occupied by Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That led me to read more about the time and inspired my first completed novel (now being shopped around for a publisher).

My love of folk songs led me to read the book about John Henry that I blogged about back in July. It also led me to see the movie "Songcatcher," which led to an interest in bluegrass music, which led to my buying a book about the Carter family and the last of Johnny Cash's autobiographies.

Living in Chicago and New Orleans gave me a love of the blues, and I've bought a few books about the blues and blues artists.

That's a few examples off the top of my head.

As for books I'd been inspired by music to read that I would recommend:

Steel Drivin' Man—John Henry—The Untold Story of an American Legend by Scott Reynolds Nelson

Johnny Cash: The Autobiography by Johhn Cash with Patrick Carr

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay (a fantasy novel based loosely on medieval Spain and El Cid)

I also read a great dictionary of the words used in blues music (Southern slang of the 1920s), but I can't find it at the moment to tell you its name.

I ordered two Nina Simone CDs last night.

Carleen Brice said...

Shauna, Good luck with your novel!!! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. Glad you ordered some NS. Let me know what you think of it.

Carleen Brice said...

Julie, Nina Simone does cast a spell, doesn't she? I'm not familiar with Damien Rice. See the things we learn? I've used song titles as working titles too.

Lafreya said...

I remember my parents playing her records when I was a little girl. Hearing about her again on your blog brought back wonderful memories of my parents. I went out later and bought some of Nina Simones CDs. Also after hearing the song Sinner Man on your blog I was able to solve a problem of what my jazz loving protagonist would have been listening to at the climax of my own WIP. Thank you so much!!

Larramie said...

Gosh, I've known about Nina Simone since childhood!