I’m writing a novel with the provisional title Cutting Contest. It’s a literary fiction exploring the power of music to transform people. The key themes are power, social media, and the interplay between the individual and the collective.
Here’s a short summary:
Connie Benson is a trombone player whose colossal musical gift is only exceeded by her massive credit card debt. When a leading instrument company invites her to tour Europe as part of a jazz band featuring up-and-coming, social-media-savvy musicians, she senses a chance to escape the threatening letters, phone calls and bailiffs. What’s more, the company is sponsoring a recording contract for the band member who wins a public vote, and has promised to provide a gigantic marketing budget. By combining her talents for making music, attracting attention and antagonising her peers, Connie can solve her financial problems and forge a career playing the music her late father loved. But her bandmates have their own reasons for wanting the prize – and are willing to do whatever it takes to win.
My novel is unusual because it includes several incidents directly based on famous anecdotes about jazz musicians. The events are largely unchanged, but the context and people involved are totally different. By drawing on these resources and reimagining them, I’m aiming to mirror the way jazz musicians draw on standards: Approaching tunes like Summertime or Georgia on My Mind and performing them with new group of instruments in a different style or rhythm – even merging parts from several standards together to create a completely new arrangement.