Best-selling novelist Erin Kelly collaborates with Ben Walker, Kirsty Merryn and Basia Bartz to bring a folksong to life at the heart of her new thriller, The Skeleton Keypublished today.
The Skeleton Key is the new novel by best-selling Sunday Times novelist Erin Kelly. Described by Lucy Roley as “gloriously gothic – a richly layered and utterly compulsive read”, the book is a must-read for folk revival fans. The thriller opens in the 1960s with a folk song that has a charm at its heart:
“Gather the lady’s bones with love to see the lady rise”.
The consequences twist through the generations; two families and their secrets. What’s a folk song without a tune and a singer? With a childhood steeped in folk records and a love for tradition, Erin Kelly worked with good friend and Folk Award-winning musician Ben Walker, acclaimed singer-songwriter Kirsty Merryn and prolific violinist Basia Bartz to raise the words off the page and make the song sound and feel like it should. With a nod to Fairport and more than a hint of Matty Groves, “To Gather the Bones” has all the ingredients a good old-school folksong should have – murder, magic and true love. Ben, Kirsty and Basia released an exclusive video from the taping of ‘To Gather the Bones’ to celebrate the launch of The Skeleton Key.
Erin says, “I was brought up in folk music. I’m sure these songs, novel-sized worlds condensed into five-minute ballads, have been a big part of my career as a storyteller. Fairport Convention was the soundtrack to my childhood, and I used to sing Leige & Lief songs to my own kids when they were babies. I firmly believe that the stories we hear when we are little take root in us and grow, become part of us, whether these stories are sung, drawn or written.
Kirsty agrees: “Most of the best traditional songs are pretty dark stories when you think about it – this one’s new but it fits the bill perfectly – violence, dismemberment, a witch – you can’t really to cheat you. And of course, true love saves the day.
Ben adds, ‘It’s always great fun to take words and turn them into a song again. Since this song is set in a very particular place and time in the novel, it was important to get it to sound right for the time period. You can probably see from the video that it was a lot of fun to do! »
The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly (Hodder) is out today and can be found in all good bookstores, including waterstones.com and Bookshop.org