Joanna Cannon: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep Soundtrack

Joanna Cannon: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep Soundtrack

When you’re writing about a different time period (and I believe, rather worryingly, that the 1970s is now considered ‘vintage’), it’s really important to research that era, especially when it comes to small details. What night of the week was Are You Being Served on, for example? What magazines would a teenage girl be reading? Were custard creams made in the 1970s? If your writing contains an error, it will lift the reader out of the story straight away – something you desperately want to avoid, especially for the sake of a custard cream.

When you’re writing about a different time period (and I believe, rather worryingly, that the 1970s is now considered ‘vintage’), it’s really important to research that era, especially when it comes to small details. What night of the week was Are You Being Served on, for example? What magazines would a teenage girl be reading? Were custard creams made in the 1970s? If your writing contains an error, it will lift the reader out of the story straight away – something you desperately want to avoid, especially for the sake of a custard cream.

As well as checking the small print on a story, it’s also really important that your writing contains a sense of place and time, which is a much more difficult thing to achieve. Even if someone hasn’t trekked through a desert or fought on a battlefield, or (in my case) lived through the 1970s, you want them to get a sense of what that would feel like, and the first person you have to convince, of course, is you. This, for me, is where music came in.

Music is such a huge part of nostalgia, I think. We only have to hear the first few bars of a long-ago song and we’re immediately transported back to that time. When I’m writing, I need complete silence (sometimes, the sound of my own breathing puts me off), but when I’m planning scenes and thinking about plotting, it really helps me to listen to the kind of music my characters would be hearing on their radio at the time. The majority of GOATS AND SHEEP, was therefore brought to life via a very colourful playlist, which lived in my house and in my car, and very often played in my head on a loop when I was trying to get to sleep…

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1. Bay City RollersBye Bye Baby 2. Tony Orlando/DawnKnock Three Times 3. Patsy ClineCrazy 4. Brotherhood of ManSave All Your Kisses For Me 5. DionThe Wanderer 6. MudTiger Feet 7. Alvin StardustMy Coo Ca Choo 8. Elvis PresleyThe Wonder of You 9. Tina CharlesI Love to Love 10. Bay City RollersShang-a-Lang 11. The New SeekersYou Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me 12. Tony Orlando/DawnTie A Yellow Ribbon 10. Suzi QuatroDevil Gate Drive 13. Johnny NashTears on my Pillow 14. Get it On T-Rex) 15. BaccaraYes Sir, I Can Boogie



In addition to the above gems, I would also have to include Longhaired Lover From Liverpool, by Jimmy Osmond. Partly because it was the first record I bought with my own money, and secondly, how could you listen to that song and not smile?

We owe so much to the 1970s…

You can find more about The Trouble with Goats and Sheep here and don’t forget to check out the other Richard and Judy Spring 2017 Book Club books here.