Music to Write By

If you’ve been following my blog or facebook posts lately, you’ll know that I’m lucky enough to have been featured several times on Sine FM’s book show, ‘Book It.’ One of the fun things about appearing on the show is having to choose a song to go along with the interview or story. Sometimes the choice is obvious – naturally, I couldn’t resist the 'Habanera' from Bizet's 'Carmen' to go along with my Spanish love story. Other times nothing too obvious springs to mind, and then I get to have fun playing with lyrics, titles and obscure connections – that’s how I ended up with Gerry Rafferty’s haunting song ‘Baker Street’ to accompany a review of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’, in which the protagonist, Christopher, is a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

It’s also always interesting to see what music other writers pick to accompany their stories. Some people write to music and pick their favourite writing music for the show, while others prefer writing in silence, but pick a song that, for them, evokes the mood of their story, or their feelings about writing (the Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ has been a popular choice). I write equally happily to music or silence, but am hopelessly distracted by speech, so I rarely listen to the radio but I usually have a stack of CDs by my computer.

Since ‘Desperate Bid’ is a musically-themed book, it has a longer than usual playlist attached in my mind. The song I picked to accompany the launch-day interview on ‘Book It’ was an easy choice. Bryan Adams’ ‘Summer of 69’ is the only song mentioned by name in the entire novella… at least, the only one I didn’t write! I had great fun writing lyrics to imaginary songs for the band in the book to play, but the real high point was writing the love song which my hero Alex sings to the heroine, Sarah. Sadly, I don’t quite have the musical knack to get the tunes for these out of my head and onto the page, so readers will have to imagine them… unless there’s a composer out there who’d like to set them to music for me!

Apart from the made-up songs, 'Desperate Bid' features two other kinds of music. The band in the book is somewhat Gothic in nature, and I imagine their sound as a composite of the songs on the ‘Queen of the Damned’ soundtrack, while Alex’s songs are gentler and more acoustic, perhaps reminiscent of Phil Collins or Mark Knopfler. So even in this one short-ish novella, I’ve managed to combine a number of my favourite musical styles. Nothing classical yet, though – that one’s still on the drawing board, so maybe you’ll hear more about it in future, either here or on ‘Book It.’


  1. I can't listen to music when I write at all! I find I end up writing the story of the song. But since my hero in Please Don't Stop the Music is an indie-rock guitarist I've listened to a lot of indie tracks to try to 'get' him. And it's been no hardship at all!

    Although, just lately I've got heavily into Pendulum, and I've been finding myself singing 'Propane Nightmare' under my breath whilst slaving away at my WIP, so who knows how that's going to turn out!

  2. Hmmm... 'Propane Nightmare' sounds like it might result in a story suitable for Halloween!


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