Saturday, September 29, 2012

50th party blog guest - India Grey

I’ve known India Grey since she first sold to M&B. And I met her when I was in bossy PTA chair mode. You want the full story? It was Kate Walker’s celebration for her 50th book, and it struck me that we would all be taking her a present, and wouldn’t it be so much nicer if we all clubbed together and got her something REALLY special to mark the occasion? So I sent India a quick email, explaining that we hadn’t actually met and I wasn’t a total nutter, but would she like to join in with a big present for Kate… and I had this lovely, ‘What, THE Kate Hardy?’ email back. (It still puts a smile on my face today. Actually, I did the same thing when Caroline Anderson first rang me. ‘What, THE Caroline…?’ And Caroline still teases me about it years and years later.)

India is absolutely the most stylish person I know. She’s the one I squeaked to when I was doing a spread in the local paper (a Valentine dinner, using recipes from my books) and two days before the photo shoot I realised I didn’t actually own an apron and I needed a massive amount of style help, pronto. (India came straight back with suggestions, including web links and photographs, and helped me choose an Emma Bridgewater apron.) And I’ve borrowed some of her jewellery and fashion sense for my more stylish heroines. I was delighted to be at an RNA lunch when we’d both been shortlisted for an award and I could cheer her as the winner. (I admit that I do envy her trophy. I didn’t have a trophy, the year I won, though I did spend the entire prize money on a Pandora bracelet and three beads to commemorate it.)

Anyway, over to India:

I’m writing this on my first day back at my desk after the annual Mills and Boon author lunch and toast, where I saw Kate (looking extremely glamorous) receive her pin for 50 books. The rousing applause that accompanied this was a reflection of how much she’s loved by her fellow writers and all at Mills and Boon.

It’s easy to understand why. As a newly-signed writer I was shocked and more than a little starstruck to see her name appear in my email inbox one day, and incredibly touched that she introduced herself by explaining who she was, LIKE I HADN’T BEEN A FAN FOR AGES. Since then we’ve shared more than a few laughs about that. We’ve shared a lot of other stuff too. Stuff About kids (our youngests are the same age), stuff about heroes and writing. Stuff about what to wear for Posh Events and where to go on holiday; stuff about favourite tea and chocolate and shops. But one of the things I love sharing between us most is stuff about music.

I can’t remember where it started, or what were the first recommendations we swapped, but I do know that my CD collection and i-pod playlists are fuller and richer and considerably more fun for Kate’s influence. This is a girl who knows her music, and it was she that I turned to (or emailed) when I needed a classical piece for a particular scene in a book. The Chopin she suggested was perfect, but the amazing thing about Kate is she’s just as hot on contemporary things that hit the spot too. Exotically-named bands I’d never have come to know without her, like Dexter Freebish and Porcupine Tree, new or lesser-known songs by artists I might have already heard of but never really listened to (hope she’ll forgive the poor grammar in that sentence!)

I thought for ages about what music to share here (in fact I had to resort to an hour-long mid-morning bath, with my best and most inspiring bath oil and my i-pod on shuffle) and in the end decided on Frisky and Mannish, who I haven’t yet shared with Kate. I chose them because they’re talented and creative and original, like she is, and because this song – a mash up between Kate Bush and Kate Nash, is the ultimate celebration of All Things Kate. And because it always makes me feel better – just like Kate’s books. (Check out their Lily Allen/Noel Coward mash-up as well, and the Question song and the Busted tribute...)

Congratulations on 50 witty, wise and wonderful books, Kate, and (in the words of ABBA) thank you for the music! (and everything else).

I can’t give away music, so instead I’m going to parcel up some of the other things Kate and I have shared – chocolate and books – in return for the names of some of the songs that mean something to you, or that you’ve shared with special people in your life. I’d love to look them up and have a listen!

You can find out more about India at her website or on her blog at
Or follow her on Twitter @indiagrey


Sherry Gloag said...

Loved the post ladies, one of my favourite pieces of music also just happens to be by a Kate - Katie Malua and Nine million Bicycles.
DH & I both love this song.
Mr Blue Skies by ELO
because it is aone of our son's favoutires and brings back some wonderful memories.

India said...

Ooh, Sherry - just reading the title of that Katie Melua song gave me goosebumps!! It's ages since I heard it and I love it too, so THANK YOU for the reminder. I'm going to listen to it right now. Mr Blue Skies is also very cool - your son has excellent taste in music!

Scarlet Wilson said...

Can I make you cry? The Fray How to Save a Life makes me cry. Grey's Anatomy used it to perfection last year. My friend's daughter had it as her first dance at her wedding last week and cried as she held her nre husband. She cried all the way up the aisle to marry him too. Don't know what was more beautiful.

marybelle said...

Just lately I have been haunted by the song MAD WORLD by Gary Jules.

I first heard it when I watched a troubling documentary.

So, now whenever I am touched or saddened it's there, basically in empathy.

It's extraordinarily beautiful.

Desere said...

Hi India, I love your books ! Dance with my father again is special to me because every time my dad came back on leave from working in Iraq I would listen to it as it reminded me that I got to see him again as he might not come home alive again. And also I can fly by R.Kelly gave me a lift when I went through a really tough time. Then one more is All I ask of you as it was my grandmothers favourite song and it never use to make me cry but after her death in April this year the song now makes me cry but at the same time reminds me that my grandmother is still "around" listening to the song with me.

Thank you for the very lovely giveaway !

Annie West said...

India, just a quick hi. Late in the day here and I'm facing a looming deadline but just wanted to say how much I enjoy your books. Now I know you're a chocolate fan too, I'm wondering how much that influences the lush passion in your stories.

India said...

Scarlet, I love that one too - in fact, I remember sending Kate a link to another one of theirs that I'd just discovered and which had me in bits - I'll Look After You.
Your friend's daughter's wedding sounds wonderful, and very inspiring! What's a wedding without tears?!

Marybelle, it's really interesting that you mentioned that one as I've been having a real Tears for Fears binge lately (and they did that one first, but very differently from Gary Jules's haunting, beautiful version.) Thanks for putting this song back on my radar - isn't it amazing how a song can touch you in a way that nothing else can?

Desere, that is SUCH a lovely post. Gosh, what powerful memories. (I really, really hope that you're still dancing with your dad... ) I love your song choices too. Thank you for sharing x

Annie, you know me too well! My books should really have a page in the front saying 'sponsored by Galaxy' as I rely on chocolate so much when I'm writing against a deadline. As for inspiring the passion... I think I'd have to hold my hands up to that. Music plays its part too (if I can find just the *right* song for the mood) and is less fattening, so I try to use that too! Good luck with the deadline - and wishing you plenty of chocolate!

Eli Yanti said...

I love listening "Goodbye the saddest word by celine dion", always make me think who wonderful my mom is :)

Brigitte said...

Florent Pagny "Là, où je t'emmènerai". I's in French, I know, but that pretty much sums up the road my husband is taking me on; The road we both travel, together.

Laney4 said...

When I want to feel closer to my husband, I play my "record" of this song (or, like today, I play it on my computer); we danced to this song at our wedding in July/81: Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard's SUDDENLY:

Desere said...

Thank you very much for your kind words India and yes I am still dancing with my dad,he was injured in Iraq in 2008 and sent home so yes thanks to the good Lord up above I still do get to dance with him.

Caroline said...

Hi India - great to "see" you here! I was wondering when you were going to appear - I've been a Kate blog fan for years and she sings your praises regularly! ;o).

Gosh - songs! SO many to choose from! Some sad, some funny, some just for fun. 3 that stick in my mind at the moment for various reasons - "Kiss Me" by Six Pence None The Richer. "That Old Rugged Cross" - my grans funeral, and "Wuthering Heights/Heathcliffe" by Kate Bush as me and the DH were in hysterics recently singing along to this in the car whilst in a traffic jam. Goodness knows what the other car drivers thought! Take care - Caroline x

bn100 said...

Nice post and music.

Tammy Yenalavitch said...

Hi India,

Love your books. I really like Mumford and Sons. Their first album is one of my all time favorites. As far as songs, the ones I play the most are If It Kills Me by Jason Mraz , Your Love is King by Sade and Alison by Elvis Costello.

Morton S Gray said...

Hi India,

I still keep an email that you sent to me about my writing and I read it when I need encouragement! I've followed Kate's blog for a long time too and find helpful words in that. I'll give you too songs, one a bit sad and the other uplifling. Shades of Gray by The Monkees has been a favourite since my teens and Yorkshire Tea by Uiscedwr is an uplifting favourite Cormac their percusion player is a bit of all right too - I went on one of his bodhran courses. Good luck both with current and future books. Mx

India said...

Ladies, I'm SO SORRY not to be back sooner - it's been a busy weekend. And now I'm looking forward to having a quiet house again so I can listen to all these fantastic songs!

Eli, I don't know that one by Celine Dion, so I'll be having a look on youtube. How wonderful that it makes you think of your mum.

Brigitte, it's a really beautiful song and I wish my French was better so I could understand all of the words (instead of one line in ten... *ashamed*) I'll have to get daughter #1 to help me out. It's such an evocative tune, and your comment has got me really intrigued!

Laney, that's beautiful. What wonderful, romantic memories that must bring back. Thank you for sharing them.

Desere - I am SO glad to hear that he's back with you, though sorry that he was injured. He sounds like a hero in every sense of the word.

Caroline, you know me - I'm always late to a party! I adore the Sixpence None the Richer song too - I think it was their only hit, wasn't it? It's such a hopeful, joyful song - it really captures how it feels to be young and in love. I'm liking the mental image of you and your DH singing along to Kate Bush in the car - did he do the high bits? I think I'd have been in hysterics too!

Thank you bn!

Tammy - Mumford and Sons - YES!! That album is one of my all time favourites too, and I was so excited about the second one coming out. So far it hasn't grabbed me in the same way - how about you? I love your other choices too - you are my music twin :-)

Hello Morton! I love your writing and want to read more of it, so the encouragement was purely selfish... What great song choices too (I wonder if EL James was inspired at all by the Monkees when she wrote 50 Shades of Grey?) I really enjoyed the Yorkshire Tea song. Any song about tea is automatically going to be a winner with me, but the band is great. And you are such a multi-talented, creative lady, doing bodhran too. Is there anything you can't turn your hand to?

Morton S Gray said...

India - I often think I am a jack of all trades master of none, but I am never bored. My father taught me that if you can imagine something you can do it/achieve it. Maybe I should apply the advice to my writing!!! Next foray is a barista course as one of my characters is one and I want to know more (should be good for a part time job too if ever I need one!) Mx

Tammy Yenalavitch said...


I plan to get the second Mumford and Son CD after I listen to the songs for a while. Just haven't done it yet. Their first album was so perfect, I don't think they can top it. I can listen to it straight through for hours. I saw them perform The Cave on an awards show and I was complete captivated by their sound that I went out the next day and bought their first CD before I even heard the other songs.

India said...

I love that attitude Morton - perhaps it's one of the things that makes you such a great person to be around. And you have already made great achievements in your writing. Next stop 'the call'!.

Tammy, I've got to the stage where I'm too old and boring to be that bothered about going to see bands live... All that queueing up and being crushed and having to wait for hours to get out of the carpark afterwards. But Mumford and Sons are the one band I'd gladly do all of that for. I think they'd be FANTASTIC.

Morton S Gray said...

Awh shucks India thank you! Mx

Deborah Murphy said...

Hi, India! I love your books and have just finished reading 'Craving the Forbidden' (which was wonderful!). Next on my list is 'In Bed With a Stranger', of course!
My favourite song is 'If I Should Fall Behind' by Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. It makes me think of my husband and all he means to me. I always cry when I listen to it - in a good way! - especially when I hear Nils Lofgren sing his lines and Clarence play the saxophone. I think it's hauntingly beautiful!

Kate Hardy said...

First name drawn from the hat for her books – Brigitte. Please contact me kate(dot)hardy(at)btinternet(dot)com with your details, and I'll get everything sorted :o) Thanks for taking part!