Wednesday, 8 July 2015

2000 Tunes FAQ

Have you read 2000 Tunes? Did you have any questions? Maybe you'll find the answers here! If you haven't read it yet then beware of reading on: there are massive spoilers. As usual I'll add to this if more questions occur.

What's the novel about?
See the blurb here. It's not a fast-paced plot-blaster. I think of it more as a soap opera, where you dip into lives to find out what happens next. There is a point to it all. The book won’t be for everyone, since it is quirky and takes its time over the little details in life, but I’m proud of it. It’s a labour of love, in many ways. My love/hate relationship with Manchester the city; the importance of music to life; different types of love in relationships; and finding where your heart wants to be.

Can you tell me more about the songs you reference, and Manchester music in general?
Manchester Music posts (and a breakdown of the songs and bands); Manchester Music Overview 1976 – 1998.

Hold on, what's music got to do with it?
2000 Tunes is about a Manchester music obsessive nerd. Each of the 25 chapters is named after one of his favourite songs or albums, and is prefixed by an extract from a book about Manchester music, which discusses that song and the band behind it. That book is called 2000 Tunes: A History of Manchester Music by M. H. Rees (Harper Collins, 2011).

Kyle Weigel asked: “How do you write a novel about music?”
It’s more that the seed of it was my love of the music, and therefore the character’s love. Hopefully it works in a few ways – as characterisation (his geeky obsession) and as plot element (his possible escape from a job he hates). Also as a framing device, since each chapter is named after a famous Manchester album, begins with a review of it, and the two subtly foreshadow events in that chapter. An example would be Joy Division’s album ‘Closer’, in a chapter where two characters grow closer together, and memories of how much he loved a Joy Division song connect his childhood and a sort-of date scene in Afflecks Palace. I also intend to hint at lyrics or titles in a similar way in the events that occur. There’s also a twist related to the music bits, which I'll explain later.

Why does each chapter begin with an extract from a music book with a similar title to your novel? Who is M. H. Rees?
The extracts were meant to serve a number of functions:

1. As background, flagging up the classics, and why they stand out. It is handy for people who don’t know much about the Madchester scene.
2. Each mini-review or extract refers obliquely to elements of the novel, themes or situations (as do the lyrics to many of the songs mentioned). Sometimes in the chapter they’re connected to, sometimes reflecting back to earlier ones, or looking forward to later ones. It provides irony in some cases, and humour, and undercuts events or connects them. So the reviews are just as much about the novel as about the songs and albums themselves.
3. Each song title occurs in the final chapter as Mark turns into a new person, someone who cuts his ties and is ready to move on. Everything feeds in to that. (Some of the titles are altered slightly).
4. The reviews build up this idea of the bands and songs all being connected (to each other, to places, to times) – just as everything is connected, and just as everything develops from its environment.
5. (In an earlier draft it was a bit different, and as you approached the end of book the reviews seemed to degrade, becoming earlier drafts, ripped, crumpled, coffee-stained – this represented the breakdown of Mark’s life; yet when read in reverse they showed the evolution of a text. This feature was dropped.)

The extracts purport to be from a book about Manchester music. Only at the very end of the novel is there a full reference: 2000 Tunes: A History of Manchester Music by M. H. Rees (Harper Collins, 2011). This gives us some key information we were lacking, and tells us "what happened next" after the book cover is closed, since the reader finds out that the book was written by Mark, and dated long after the novel ends. It provides the final piece of the puzzle. So... Mark Hopton ends up with Samantha Rees. He adopts her surname (partly to prevent himself being traced by Manchester gangsters, but also out of his love and respect for her, and as part of starting a new life with her family becoming his own; the unconventional nature of a man taking on a woman's surname fits both Mark and Sam's natures, I think). So M. H. Rees is actually Mark. And we realise that he has written a music book called 2000 Tunes - something he always wanted to do but lacked the confidence. So we also know that he has achieved his dreams, gained confidence, and had a lasting relationship with Samantha. Oh, and the acknowledgements show that he runs a record shop in Swansea now, another dream of his, a job connecting him to music - it should be obvious that this was one of the shops that Samantha's uncle Joe set up after the novel ended, once he'd met the ideal person to run it.

In brief: my novel 2000 Tunes is about a Manchester music obsessive. It has extracts from a book about Manchester music, but that book doesn't really exist - it was "written" by the main character, after the events of the novel (which partly explains why the scrapbook entries are applicable to the story of Mark and Sam - he wrote them after the events of the novel).

Yes, it is a lot to get your head round. But if you coped with the ending of Cold Fusion 2000 then you'll be fine.

But the extracts even had page numbers...
I know. I'm obsessive about detail.

I worked out the page numbers that covered each time period in the fictional work, based on how many things Mark would want to talk about for each date range. If you're interested, this is the page breakdown of the fictional book, 2000 Tunes: A History of Manchester Music. (Maybe I'll write it one day, and create even more confusion).

Years covered
1-50 1950-1978
61-68 1978
69-73 1979
74-81 1980
82-86 1981
87-94 1982
95-103 1983
104-119 1984
120-134 1985
135-141 1986
142-170 1987
171-181 1988
182-201 1989
202-234 1990
235-252 1991
253-261 1992
262-273 1993
274-290 1994
291-307 1995
308-320 1996
321-338 1997
339-354 1998
355-365 1999
366-512 2000-2010

I'm still confused by the novel's end matter...
The acknowledgement to "Marky H" - that's Mark Hopton, too. Muddling through life trying to be good, despite the ease of other approaches ... I like the guy.

No, I don't mean that. I mean the bit About The Author, where it says: "Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but has lived in Wales for over fifteen years [...] He was born M. Hopton but changed his name in 2002."
Sorry about that. All novels have autobiographical elements, and I like to mix truth and fiction. I am originally from Manchester and I did move here round about the same time as Mark; but I was never really named Mark Hopton. It doesn't mean he's not part of me and my past in some way though. I couldn't resist adding extra layers to the ending.

Did it take long to write?
I had the joy of rewriting a 140,000 word novel four times over ten years, whilst also occasionally working on a fictional music book that tied in to it... I don't make things easy on myself do I? 2000 Tunes is more than twice as long as its sister-novel Cold Fusion 2000.

Kyle Weigel asked: “I am curious to know why you refer to it as a partner-book/sister-novel instead of a sequel. What's the difference?”
2000 Tunes and Cold Fusion 2000 are both set in Manchester in the same summer, year 2000. There are crossover characters and places and themes and events (even down to the Large Hadron Collider's first test, which is key for Alex, but also wakes Mark from his sleep). Each is also a standalone novel, so read one, or both; if you read both, then read them in any order. I think there is a lot to be gained from reading both carefully and comparing them (there are many playful little cross-references), but it is optional - which wouldn't be the case with a sequel.

What are the discussion questions for book groups?
Some of these will be answered on this page.
  • What are the themes and concerns of the novel?
  • What is the significance of the novel’s name?
  • How do the chapter names relate to the events of those chapters?
  • How many elements of Mark’s behaviour, character and interests label him as geek? What are they?
  • What does Mark learn?
  • What do you think of the claim that the text in the reviews at the start of each chapter are not about the album or song, but actually about this novel?
  • What does Sam learn?
  • What happened next?
  • Is there any relevance to the sex of most characters in Sam’s story, and those in Mark’s?
  • Who actually wrote 2000 Tunes?
  • If you could meet any character from the novel and ask them a question, who would you choose, and what would you ask? Why?

I really hate the bits where Sam takes drugs. What's the point of that?
That subplot came from two angles. The first is the more obvious one - the need for a contrast between Sam's lows and the potential high when she finds a better life. So she has this beginning of decadence and demoralisation that gets worse, but which contrasts totally with the end where she has given up drugs (and alcohol), and being influenced by others, and settling for second best. Her journey is to recognise her unhappy position in the toxic city, and see what she really wants, then grab it: home, family, rewarding work, respectful love (and, maybe one day, a child). So the drugs are part of the lowest lows in order to highlight the contrast when she escapes. As such they tie in to the plot and her journey closely. The other reason for the subplot is because I wanted to have a negative life to get away from, and one of my respected readers said the plot needed elements to be grittier, more urban. So that led me down this route, but only because I felt that it actually worked to illustrate Sam's journey.

What about Bazzy Noel Brown-Rider?
An exaggerated, fictional Mancunian amalgam (of Noel Gallagher, Shaun Ryder, Bez etc). Bazzy is only seen when Mark is depressed. It is usually just glimpses until Mark gets really low (and is sleepy/drunk). Bazzy is a shadow for most of the novel but when Mark is at his loneliest Bazzy turns up to support him. We later find out that Mark has a history of imaginary friends (Denny hints at this a few times) - Bazzy is just the latest, born from Mark's love of Manchester music. Or perhaps Bazzy is the ghost of the dead brother Mark never knew, helping him in brief appearances, as Lucy Jane helped Alex in Cold Fusion 2000. I am happy for the reader to make their own mind up.

Are there real people in the novel?
One of the people I interviewed for 2000 Tunes has been involved with Manchester music for years, he’s called Martin the Mod, and he ended up agreeing to appear in my novel as himself 15 years ago. That was quite freaky, but fitted my desire for verisimilitude.

Ditto with Colin from Vinyl Revival. He really was in the shop on the day Mark and Sam visited, back in the year 2000.

Any more key Manchester dates?
Manchester music through the years - September connections.
I'm too good to you.



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