ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions: its format and contents (part 01)

Published June 09, 2016

Every author has his or her own method for getting to grips with a book project. Some like to get the majority of their research and interviews done before they start writing. Others, like me, run it like a parallel process: initially at least, I conduct research and interviews parallel with writing, mainly because I know the writing process itself will trigger ideas for further research and also raise questions I wasn't aware needed to be answered.

However, there comes a point when you feel the need to pull everything together: get the research under control, make those final few interviews, and then concentrate on writing. That's where I'm at now - almost. I haven't quite finished with the interviews, and I'm sure a trip to libraries and archives for additional research will provide welcome breaks over the next few months, but from now on my main focus will be on writing.

Having already completed a fair number of chapters, I feel that the format and feel of the book has become more clear to me. Therefore, I will devote a number of blogs to sharing with you, dear reader, some information on what the book will actually be like, this being the first of these blogs.

The diary format of the original book has been retained, but the commentary text has been expanded so as to provide more details and information, along with memories, insights and reflections from those who were there at the time. How were the songs written? How were they recorded? What do the ABBA members remember? What are the recollections of the musicians and engineers? It’s all in the book.

Apart from the new interviews I'm conducting, I am of course also making use of the interviews made for the original book. When that volume was written, I sometimes took a comment from an interviewee and sort of edited it down to something fairly brief, but for the revised and expanded edition I’ve gone back to the original interviews and often been able to expand the comments from those I interviewed so that they are more complete and more detailed. During the writing of the new edition I've sometimes found myself wondering: "Why didn't I put that comment in the original book?" Well, those comments are there now!

Moreover, I’ve also checked out innumerable interviews from so-called secondary sources – books, newspapers, magazines, radio and TV programmes – and found many interesting and often long-forgotten insights from the ABBA members. Those vintage quotes will help increase our understanding of how their music was created.

The prose has been improved so as to make for a more pleasurable reading experience. Although the format is that of a reference book, it’s important to me that you should be able to read it from cover to cover without being bored. I’m trying to tell a story, while at the same time provide as many facts and details as possible – it’s a challenge to combine those two prerequisites, but it’s a challenge I enjoy and I think I’m getting there.

Further details about what the book will be like in an upcoming blog post.

At this juncture I would also like to announce that the publication of the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions will, in all likelihood, be postponed. The original date I was shooting for was November 2016, but as I made clear when the project was first presented, the quality of the book comes before deadlines, and I need more time to make the book as good as it needs to be. So the date I'm shooting for now is circa February/March 2017. Please be aware that this is not a case of me twiddling my thumbs - I'm just as eager as you are that the book should be finished and made available to its readership.

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A preliminary couple of pages from the revised and expanded edition of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. Design by Maria Nicholas.