Monday 31 August 2009

Rupert Holmes and The Serpent Pool

Rupert Holmes is a highly successful pop music singer-songwriter who also happens to be a rising star in the world of crime fiction. I’ve been a fan of his songs since he was first in the charts thirty years ago, and I became all the more intrigued when I learned that this apparently all-American musician was actually born in Northwich, Cheshire, my own home town. (His father was an American who did war-time service in England, and married a local girl.)

Through one of those strange strokes of luck, at a time when I was struggling with one aspect of my latest Lake District Mystery, The Serpent Pool, I picked up an idea from a fellow blogger, Nan. She just happened to post a link to a Youtube video of a youthful Rupert Holmes, singing my favourite of his songs, ‘Him’. It was a big hit in its day, though Rupert is best known for his classic ‘Escape’, also known as ‘The Pina Colada Song’ (clever and witty lyrics coupled with catchy tunes are his speciality.)

As I watched the video, it dawned on me that the lyric suited the theme of my book perfectly. And as an added bonus, there was a very attractive blonde girl backing singer who looked just like my idea of one of the main characters in the story. I often refer to pop songs in my books – a long list of titles from the great Burt Bacharach feature in all of them except, of course, for Dancing for the Hangman – but this time I was keen to quote from the lyric itself, and of course this meant copyright permission was essential.

I’ve told the story in the past of how fellow crime writer Paul Charles, who represents Ray Davies of the Kinks, arranged for me to quote from the lyric of ‘Waterloo Sunset’. By a lucky chance, it turned out that Rupert and I share a publisher, and when I contacted Rupert, he responded quickly and graciously to grant permission to reprint some of the words to ‘Him’. I’m enormously grateful, and our email correspondence has encouraged me to look our, not only for Rupert’s novels, but also a musical he’s written based on The Mystery of Edwin Drood.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I had no idea! Of course I'm familiar with the Pina Colada song, but didn't realize he was a novelist. Your pairing with him sounds like it was meant to be...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Elizabeth. Yes, he's a man of many talents. Rupert is such a literate and clever lyricist that I'm confident his novels will be good reads.

Anonymous said...

I've been a fan of Rupert's for years and very much enjoy his work. My favorite novel of his is "Swing" which, if you get the hardcover, comes with a CD of music he also composed and performed that actually goes with the book. (Or it used to come with the CD, I don't know if it still does or not. Hope so!)

But my all time favorite Rupert accomplishment is his TV show from 1996-1998 "Remember WENN". Look it up on the internet!

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks very much for these tips, Anonymous. I've looked it up - and been duly impressed. Also impressed by the downloads of Swing.