Friday, July 8, 2016

"Me and the Starman": In Search of Your Bowie Memories

The world seems a little weirder without David Bowie in it. And many of us have our own memories of our experiences with his massive backlog of creative works. If you're one of those people, your stories could help raise money to help cancer patients.

Me and the Starman is one of the latest additions to the You and Who charity anthology line. Featuring books covering Doctor Who, Blake's 7, British telefantasy, and more, the anthologies are retrospectives of their respective topics -- but in a unique way. Rather than being strict summaries or reviews, each essay is a very individualized, personal piece about how that particular work was a part of the writer's life. They're collected stories of how fans experience, love, and share the work.

Co-editor James Gent has been a You and Who contributor since 2013, and was eager to help put this project together:

I’ve been a massive David Bowie fan all my life, he’s probably up there with Doctor Who as a formative influence that’s shaped my world over the years – and like the Time Lord, he’s regenerated numerous times, and always reflected and anticipated what’s going on in popular culture. And his music always had a good dose of sci-fi escapism in there.

So naturally, when news of his passing broke six months ago, like much of the western world, I was in mourning. And of course, when a huge cultural icon that’s so much a part of your life leaves you, you want to immortalise that somehow, as a lasting mark of respect for the impact they made. To say thank you.
Black Archive writer Jon Arnold teamed up with Gent to volunteer to edit the volume. Together, they've assembled a variety of writers covering a variety of topics from Bowie's life. Among those who have contributed so far are Jessica Lee Morgan, the daughter of Tony Visconti (Bowie’s long-time producer) and an accomplished singer-songwriter in her own right; Malcolm Doherty (Go Kart Mozart) and Simon Westbrook, who played with Woody Woodmandsey’s Holy Holy (A Bowie tribute act featuring members of the Spiders from Mars), Paul Draper from Mansun, and acid house DJ Adamski. Ange Chan and Paul Magros have contributed poems, and others may be familiar to regular You and Who readers as previous contributors.

However, there are still some gaps left in the book's coverage of Bowie's career -- and that's where you come in.

Gent and Arnold are looking for contributions from fans like you: your memories, stories, and retrospectives on specifics works from Bowie's career. While many are already taken, some still need to be addressed:

Amazingly, some key albums – Aladdin Sane, Heroes, Let’s Dance – haven’t yet been bagged! Inversely, we’ve received pieces n such esoterica and arcana as The Laughing Gnome, Bowie’s cameo in Graham Chapman’s Yellowbeard, wiped TV appearances from the 60s and 70s, a K-Tel compilation and an early ‘80s paperback biography. So it’s that sort of book. I think Bowie would approve of the eclecticism!

Submissions are open until September 30th, 2016.

Two things to bear in mind: firstly, this is a not-for-profit anthology, as with the entire You and Who line, with all proceeds going to Cancer Research UK.

Secondly, this is (in Gent's words) 'a celebration, not a memorial.' While some essays might by necessity be influenced by the fans' sadness at Bowie's passing, this is not a book of eulogies. It's a way to look back at a performer who made the weirdest among us feel a little less alone in our lives.

Writers of all skill and experience levels are encouraged to send in essays. For a full run-down on the book's standards and a list of open topics, visit the official page.