I started a mini-series of blog posts under the banner ‘Accidental Influences of A Missing MC’ some time ago now. Today, after discussing The Road Home (click here) and Norwegian Wood (click here), I complete the trio. However, in the case of Espedair Street by the late, great Iain Banks, ‘accidental’ is probably pushing it…
Part Three: Espedair Street by Iain Banks
If you think back to the best books you’ve read, you may recall you were moved, inspired, that you took something profound away from the experience. As Espedair Street is one of my all-time favourite novels, its influence on my book is more than understandable.
Technically, it did still happen by accident. I’d already thought of writing a novel about a DJ who had grown disillusioned, and explore ‘the quarter-life crisis’. But when Espedair Street came into my life, just before I started to research and plan A Missing MC, Chris Ready’s story became destined to share something significant with the novel many regard as Banks’ most underrated.
The main character, Daniel Weir is the bass player of a once-famous rock band. Let me be blunt about exactly where he and Chris Ready resemble; both once enjoyed playing music and look back on their heyday fondly; both find the nostalgia adds to their present malaise; both were happy to allow more flamboyant partners in crime take the limelight; and when the story starts, both feel like they’ve been left behind.
It goes on; Banks has written Espedair Street as if the reader knows Daniel Weir’s band, Frozen Gold. Pushing the audience into this fictional world, the prose at times plays out like an autobiography. I’ve tried something similar; while ‘Ready and Strait’ were never famous, they were notorious and had a loyal following among the student community. Ready is proud of this, and his narration includes indulgent passages about his Drum ‘n’ Bass ‘act’ with MC Strait.
When I approached mainstream agents with A Missing MC I was often told it was so original they wouldn’t know where to start. But anyone who ever reads it having enjoyed Espedair Street would be right in thinking it may not be that original at all.
I’ve said previously that I make no apology for what books have or haven’t influenced my debut novel. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone not shaped by the outside. For example, my music collection may be varied, but whenever I sift through it I can hardly see past Pink Floyd. Very few of us are true pioneers.
Nonetheless, I still carry the hope that someone will take something new, something fresh from A Missing MC, whether it’s the characters, the story itself, or maybe just the feel, how I’ve put the words together.
Click here to discover Espedair Street.