I began Gimme More as a short story after John Harvey asked me to contribute to his anthology about music, Blue Lightning.
I was listening to Robert Johnson at the time, and I was once again struck dumb by a line in "Kind Hearted Woman Blues": "She's a kind hearted woman, she studies evil all the time." It's one of the strangest, most contrary lines I know and it occurred to me that I might be able to untangle it if I thought really hard about the kinds of women blues legends always moan about - unfaithful, gold-digging heartbreakers. (Blues legends often give women a very bad rep.)
The Kind Hearted Woman conundrum proved too big a subject for a short story, so I wrote something else, Walking Blues, for John (also about some of the myths that surround Robert Johnson) and spent another two or three years producing Gimme More.
I'm often very puzzled by the hate and heat poured on the heads of women in music - especially the ones associated with famous men like Mick Jagger, John Lennon or Kurt Cobain. And it's interesting to note that, like it or not, Marianne Faithful, Yoko Ono and Courtney Love are women of considerable talent themselves. Then there is the fact that sometimes great beauty, visibility and fame can be a burden. (The kind of burden a lot of people think they want but a burden all the same.)
These are three of the many elements I was playing with while writing about my kind hearted woman, Birdie Walker.
So for a little more detail, here's what an Amazon review says:
Linnet "Birdie" Walker declares herself to be a bitch at the outset of Liza Cody's new novel Gimme More: the opening chapter shows Birdie to be an adept hustler and con-artist, a fading ex-rock chick who believes that "spending my own money on clothes is a sign of failure". Birdie was formerly the stunning and arrogant babe who partnered luminous rock-god Jack--they were the world's foremost celebrity couple until Jack died in a fire that gutted his mansion. Now she is forced to live on her wits, the legacy of fame (and infamy) by association even now threatening to destabilise her precarious existence.
"The truth, whether it's mundane or exotic, is the only thing I've got left that hasn't been thumbed through and fucked over by strangers. See, when you're associated with the entertainment business everyone thinks that your whole life is there to entertain them. That's what you are--a living breathing soap--and they have the right to include themselves in your life.[...]It's like you made a contract to share every last thing with anyone who wants it. But you didn't."
But Birdie is much more than celebrity arm-candy: she's tough, sassy, highly intelligent and adept at the art of survival--qualities she needs in abundance when various music-biz executives get wind of some unreleased tapes that might be in Birdie's possession. The spectre of exploitation haunts Birdie's life again as she tries to stay ahead of the corporate predators who will do anything to cash in on the memory of Jack's music.
Gimme More is an intricately plotted, razor sharp dissection of the corruptions of fame and the sleazy depredations of the music industry: Liza Cody's analysis of the necrophilic nostalgia for the rock aristocracy of the 1960s and 70s is bitterly accurate (though her contemporary references strike a few false notes), and her account of the price of celebrity is compellingly rendered. Above all, in Birdie Walker she gives us a heroine for whom unsentimental self-interest is a virtue in a world where everyone is on the make. --Burhan Tufail
Yorkshire Post, Thursday 10th May 2001:
"Nirvana fans will find a kind of salvation between the pages of this book."