Coming soon! – the long-awaited follow-up to Stephen Riley’s The Truth About Northern Soul: SOUL STORIES: a novel by Stephen Riley
A group of young friends are drawn to the burgeoning soul music scene in the North of England at the beginning of the 1970s. Enchanted by the passionate music and the ecstatic all-night dance clubs, they follow a path from innocence to experience.
Following an initial framework chapter, the book takes the form of a series of short stories, which seem at first only to be connected by the characters and the passage of time, but gradually build into an unfolding narrative.
While the Northern Soul scene is a key reference point, Soul Stories goes far beyond that. It explores the characters’ lives both in those dark, exhilarating clubs and in a much broader hinterland. Stephen Riley creates in authentic detail the highs and lows of youthful experience in the 1970s: friendships, family, football, love and night-time misdemeanours, all set to a backcloth of Cortinas, all-nighters and smoky pubs. As the title suggests, Soul Stories is a series of tales ‘from the soul’ and about the souls who populate the book.
Liberated by fiction, Soul Stories expands on themes introduced in The Truth About Northern Soul (2019). A handful of tales from that earlier book are reimagined, set to the music of fiction and supplemented with hundreds more new stories to create a compelling overall narrative thread, which grows in intensity as the book develops.
Whereas Soul Stories is the follow-up to The Truth About Northern Soul, it is by no means only about the Northern Soul scene. The Truth About Northern Soul was aimed at audiences who wanted to read about the subject because they were part of the scene back in the day, or because they weren’t but would like to have been, or because they had an academic or a casual interest of some sort in the Northern Soul scene. While Soul Stories should appeal to those same audiences, it will also have meaning for a broader audience with little or no attachment to the Northern Soul scene, just as it is possible to enjoy Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch without being an Arsenal fan, or Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting without being a junkie.
Ultimately, Soul Stories is a universal tale of coming of age.
F J Paton (teacher and artist): “I wondered where it was going at first – the stories all seemed so innocent. But it gradually became darker and more compelling. To that extent, it reminded me of ‘Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha’. The closer it got to the end, the more I couldn’t bear to put it down. And when I finished it, I went straight back to the beginning and started again.”
Tim Bates (teacher and storyteller): “the visceral joy of the music,” “punctuated by some very funny moments,” “a deft touch with physical injuries and automotive mishaps,” “proper showing not telling.”