Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Musically Mixed Up: Another Cup of Coffee 

Every novel needs an initial pivot point – something that happens near the beginning of the story that catapults the characters into a certain direction or situation.

In Another Cup of Coffee that pivot point is an old-school music mixed tape.

Blurb-

Thirteen years ago Amy Crane ran away from everyone and everything she knew, ending up in an unfamiliar city with no obvious past and no idea of her future. Now, though, that past has just arrived on her doorstep, in the shape of an old music cassette that Amy hasn’t seen since she was at university.

Digging out her long-neglected Walkman, Amy listens to the lyrics that soundtracked her student days. As long-buried memories are wrenched from the places in her mind where she’s kept them safely locked away for over a decade, Amy is suddenly tired of hiding.

It’s time to confront everything about her life. Time to find all the friends she left behind in England, when her heart got broken and the life she was building for herself was shattered. Time to make sense of all the feelings she’s been bottling up for all this time. And most of all, it’s time to discover why Jack has sent her tape back to her now, after all these years…

With her mantra, ‘New life, New job, New home’, playing on a continuous loop in her head, Amy gears herself up with yet another bucket-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…

Jack, the male led within Another Cup of Coffee is, as so many of us are, rather hopeless when it comes to expressing how he feels about other people. So, rather than try and explain himself, and mess it up- which he often does- he falls back on song lyrics to help him out. This was a habit Jack first picked up when he was dating Amy, and she told him all about the blank tape (see blurb!), that her brother had given her to record all her musical memories when she was a student…Since that time, so many years ago, Jack has used the lyrics of others to explain himself over and over again…and not always successfully….

Extract

The power shower thundered, sending a searing-hot cascade of water down onto Jack’s head. Squeezing far too much shampoo into his hands, he began to viciously scrub his short hair. What the hell had he been thinking? Well, actually, he hadn’t been thinking, had he? He never looked beyond himself. The moment. The day. He was so stupid. So angry with himself.

Why the fuck had he posted that tape? And more immediately, where was he? And how soon was he going to able to get away from whoever it was he’d spent the night with? Jack could feel the familiar sensation of suffocation closing in on him as he abandoned his hair and began to furiously soap his torso.

He was a shit.

But then you have to be good at something.

And now Amy was coming here. It hadn’t crossed his mind that she’d even visit, let alone move her entire life back south. And not just south, but bloody London. Being back in touch, and hopefully forgiven, was one thing when she was safely tucked away in Scotland. But here. Face to face. Jack hadn’t banked on that at all.

He really didn’t want to see Rob today. It was his fault this had happened. Rob had come into work one day, back in the summer, going on about how worried he and Paul were for Amy. How she seemed to have placed herself completely off the emotional scale. The combination of bright sunshine, happy reminiscences, and the weight of a conversation he and Amy had never had, had brought his buried guilt racing to the surface.

Then, a few days later, Paul had visited Jack and Rob’s bookshop, passing through on one of his rare visits between his archaeological digs. He’d been sorting out some of his university mementos, and had come across a load of photographs.

They were all there, at university, more years ago than was acceptable if Jack was still going to pass himself off as thirty at the clubs he frequented. Amy, Rob and Paul huddled together in a muddy ditch, laughing. Rob, Paul and him, pints of Tiger lager in hand, outside their favourite pub. Paul, Amy and him, all cuddled together on Rob’s battered and suspiciously stained brown sofa. Amy and him. Amy and him together. Smiling. Together.

That had been the killer. That was the photo that had made him think. Her eyes had shone at the camera. If Jack was honest, so had his. So, in a state of happy but unrealistic nostalgia, he’d gone home, dragged a box of assorted junk out from under his bed, and pulled out the tape.

He had weighed the clear plastic box in his hand. It was time to explain. If Amy was half the girl he used to know then she’d forgive him. And suddenly, from nowhere, Jack had found that he really, really needed to be forgiven.

That was why he’d put Unfinished Sympathy on Amy’s tape. He wanted her to understand that he knew he’d hurt her. That he, himself, had been hurt by having to leave her. But for reasons he hadn’t totally understood at the time, he’d felt he had no choice. A fact which had led him to the record the unbearably twee, but wholly accurate, I Will Always Love You. It seemed to say how sorry he was. It said everything he’d wanted to say then, but couldn’t. He was sorry, really he was. But for Amy to turn up here! Bloody hell.

Stepping out of the shower, Jack began to dry himself with a suitably punishing rough brown towel. Now he was going to have to tell Rob he’d returned the tape, and have another go at talking to Kit.

He hadn’t deliberately failed to tell Kit about Amy. Specific conversations about individual exes had never come up. Jack was pretty sure that Rob hadn’t mentioned Amy to Kit either. Amy had been part of their old life, and Kit was part of their current one. Simple.

Jack knew he had to see Kit soon, before someone else filled her in. He wasn’t sure why he’d walked out on her now he came to think about it. At least she’d understand. Kit always understood. After all, they’d remained friends. Great friends. They had moved on smoothly.

‘Talk about my past catching me up,’ he muttered to his sleep-deprived reflection as he dragged a borrowed razor over his chin. ‘It’s pretty much tripped me up, into a pile of shit, and it’s entirely my fault. Bloody sentimental tape. Fuck!’

Music has always played an important part in my writing life. I have different playlists to listen to depending on what style of writing I am creating. When I am ‘being’ Kay Jaybee and creating erotica, I listen to Depeche Mode (just as Kit, the erotica writer within Another Cup of Coffee does).

When I was writing Another Cup of Coffee, I listened to non-stop 80’s and 90’s music- just as I did when I was a student back in the 1990’s. And it is that very music (Alice Cooper, The Euyrthmics, The Clash…) that inspired Jack’s lyrical feelings- and his myriad of excuses…

If you want to find out how Jack manages to mess up even the simplest conversations with his overuse of lyrics, and discover if Amy sorts her life out, you can buy Another Cup of Coffee as an eBook or a paperback from all good retailers including – Amazon

***

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

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2 Comments

  1. Jenny, this was a fun read. I remember compilation tapes recorded off the radio when I was younger. When I lived in Germany the British Forces Overseas Radio broadcasts of the Charts every Sunday, used to be a must. Tape at the ready-to-record the show – the fastest way to get access to the latest music from the UK. Loved it. Music is so important and is a marker for major events in our lives. Alice Cooper, loved him when I was a teenager and his music was always on my tape deck and record player…imagine my joy when many years later I worked with him in Los Angeles! Unlike many icons, he did not disappoint. A real gent and generous with it. I love the misuse of lyrics and do it all the time when singing. You must also recall song-writers like The Beatles who used to write dummy lyrics for their songs to allow the music to settle before writing the ‘real’ lyrics. Fun. Thanks, Jen, loved this. Memories.

    • How wonderful! I used to make them all the time during my teen years- mostly when I was at uni. The songs in the book really did feature on such a tape- if only it hadn’t snapped years sgo!

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