When I was in middle school living out in California, I became friends with a girl named “Mae”. She was new in our school, and didn’t know anyone, so I thought it would be nice if I became friends with her. She happened to be in three of my classes, so that made it easy. Mae was different than any of my friends. She was Goth and wore all black, and even her hair was black, though she confided to me that she was born a blonde. She had the whitest porcelain skin I had ever seen with the bluest eyes.
Everyone thought Mae was weird, but I didn’t mind it. In fact, the more I got to know her, the more I knew that she was one of the nicest person I had ever met. Mae shared her love of music with me. She enjoyed classical music as well as mainstream stuff, but it was her vintage punk influence that introduced me to this band. I never even heard of Siouxsie and the Banshees before! Eventually Mae moved to a different high school, outgrew her Goth period, and last I heard she is happily married.
Ever since I started writing this manuscript (with all it’s ups and downs), I really tried to find several things that influence my characters, with all the world-building that goes into a novel, and with the themes. There was a scene I was putting together in the manuscript that made me think of this band and my time in school. I guess I have Mae partly to thank really.
If you’ve never even heard of Siouxsie and The Banshees, here’s my quick background on them:
Siouxsie & The Banshees were an English rock band lead by Susan Janet Ballion and guitarist Steven Severin. They were part of a group of punk rock stemming from inspirational bands such as the Sex Pistols.
After several failed attempts to get signed by a record label, the duo added two more members and the group finally joined Polydor recording. In 1983, they released one of their most popular songs, a cover of the Beatles song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney called Dear Prudence and in 1991 with another hit, Kiss Them For Me. There’s an interesting background to Dear Prudence that you can read here as well.
These two songs I’m sharing with you remind me of “M” my protagonist. It’s difficult to explain to you what I mean, especially without giving away the plot. I don’t want to give anything away. I’ve worked on this book for so long and in the past I’ve had my ideas and even paragraphs lifted off my website… stolen from me, but that’s another story I’ll have to share with you later. So, back to Siouxsie & The Banshees. My favorite line in Dear Prudence is, “The sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful, and so are you.” I can sing this over and over all day long.
In an interview, Siouxsie mentions how growing up there were a lot of girls who had that cliched mindset of finding someone to look after them, providing them with a car and good job, but she found that boring. She wanted to be her very own person and being the lead singer in a band empowered her to become a strong woman. She defined herself the way she wanted to as an artist. This is my character! “M” wants to be her own self and doesn’t want that cliche, especially since her mother is overbearing. Perfect.
Check out the videos and let me know what you think. By the way, in the first video, not only will you notice Siouxsie’s strong arm pit hair going, but a familiar face- Robert Smith from The Cure. Also, I was getting the Bellatrix-vibe from Harry Potter for some reason too.
The second song is called Kiss Them For Me and this one has that Boho-Indian influence. By this time, the band had a New Wave music/genre. Even though it was released in 1991, their music and lyrics still sound timeless today. Enjoy!