IAN DONALDSON (H2O)
Brought up in Govan in Glasgow, I attended Greenfield Primary School and then Govan High School. I fell in love with football, art, books and music. A contradictory, and slightly dangerous combination for a teenage boy in Glasgow’s early 70’s. A Clockwork Orange wasn’t just about violence to me, although it was to many of my peers, I saw art and style and imagination unleashed. I also saw artistry and glamour reflected in George Best – how he looked and how he played. What he meant to people. The wonder of books and music were revealed to me when I discovered David Bowie and Ray Bradbury. Bowie made me want to be a singer and Ray Bradbury made me want to be a writer. The love of, and the use of art runs strongly through Bowie and Bradbury’s work. It was only natural for me to be curious as a result. The Impressionist, The Glasgow Boys and many others – artists who were really searching – in turn inspired me to search in my own way. They all illuminated a path for me to follow and explore.
After studying Art & Design in Glasgow, Edwin Collins was in the same year, I worked for a short time designing posters and magazine layouts. I then went on to have a successful career in music with Scottish band H20. Songs such as I Dream to Sleep and Just outside of Heaven were hits around the world, and I also recorded a solo record - a version of The Walker Brothers classic The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore. The songs are still being played on the radio today. Later, I helped put together another band; Four Good Men, with members of Simple Minds and Big Country. We toured North America, Europe and the UK playing our collective ‘Hits’.
I was a club DJ for 15 years, taught singing, and ran a recording studio where I produced, arranged and wrote for other musicians.
My debut novel A Rainbow in the Basement is out on Strident Publishing. It took 20 years to write, rewrite, rewrite and ... well, it’s my take on how magic affects us and how we deal with its consequences. It is set in present day Glasgow and is told in a series of vivid flashbacks to Glasgow and Atlanta Georgia in the mid 70’s by Matthew Ellis.
After many years, Matthew Ellis returns to Glasgow in search of something. He doesn’t know what he is looking for, only that he had to come. With four hours between flights, he heads to his old neighbourhood, reflecting on his past. How he took God to task over the death of his dad. How love tests us. How an exquisite friend revealed to him that magic is real and all around us, only it’s impossible to see with a closed heart. That love is thicker than blood and we become the decisions we make. That not every battle can be won and sometimes all we can do is hold on. There is more ... only it’s best you read the rest for yourself.
During those 20 years of writing and rewriting Rainbow I sent out various versions and sample pages to publishers and agents. I received some lovely responses, but none expressed a desire to get involved because, they told me, they could not label my story or fit it comfortably into an accepted Book Industry/Book Sellers genre. My answer to them was always the same – “Readers are smart, they can travel in more than one direction and in more than one landscape over a journey lasting 328 pages because their lives’ are not a single genre.” They still wouldn’t budge. It was a friend, Kerr Thompson, an author himself who handed an early copy of my novel (in sheer frustration I had printed 100 copies privately to show people that I was serious) to Keith Charters at Strident Publishing that changed things for me. Keith read Rainbow in 2 days, then contacted me, said the same thing as the others – genre – but wanted to publish it because it defied genre. The hard back edition was published in March 2017 and has since sold out. The paperback edition came out in July 2017 to coincide with a reading I performed at East Kilbride Arts Centre. I also performed a short acoustic set that night and met Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son who I traded a signed copy of my book for one of his. The book is still selling strongly.
Leonard, a song on H20’s Faith album, was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short story The Pedestrian. Many years later, thanks to Donn Albright, who worked with the American novelist for over 50 years, Bradbury, heard the song and liked it so much that he sent men a copy of Dandelion Wine. A note with it said, ‘Thanks for Leonard, Ian. I Love it. Ray’. Donn Albright has kindly written an afterword for my novel. With his permission I have used a quote from it and included it on the front cover of my book “Fine writing that rivals Ray Bradbury at his very best!!!”
I have recorded a new album of original songs – ‘From Stars We Came’; released 9 February 2018 on Toy Town Records. Co-producing with Gordon McNeil at Toy Town, I’ve enjoying making this record as much as I did making records in the early days of H20. So far I have released 3 songs from the album – Angel Pale (this captures – I hope – the moment when I saw David Bowie for the first time on TOTP in July ’72 performing Starman.) Let Love In which I co-produced with Brian McNeill from China Crisis. It’s my message as a concerned citizen to all of my brothers and sisters on Planet Earth. Love is the only way out of the mess we're in. The third song ‘Ticker Tape Parade’ is song is about hoping to get a second chance in life and keeping your nerve when faced with the possibility that it has arrived.