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The Messiah is my sister, ain’t no king, man, she’s my Queen….

This would be the long-awaited follow up to the “Writing to Music” post I wrote about, ooh, three hundred years ago that I promised I would do a quick follow up to, before the intervention of both Real Life and Editing Hell.

I was reminded I hadn’t done it by this interesting blog post on The Lucky 13’s YA blog, talking about exactly the same subject :


So I might be retreading familiar ground here, but what the hey.

Last time I talked about SF and fantasy soundtracks, and what music helps/hinders the actual process of writing. The trouble I have with writing to any kind of non-instrumental music is that I start listening to the lyrics, usually at the expense of doing any work. Not good for the word count. And it’s all about the lyrics for me, especially when choosing songs for book soundtracks.

Every novel I have written (that’s four and 1/4, for anyone keeping count) has had an accompanying soundtrack. Sometimes this even came before the novel was written, sometimes, as with Art of Forgetting, it didn’t come together until right at the end. But there always seems to be one, and I think it helps with the creative process, both in getting into the right mindset, and in providing inspiration.

There are some bands I find more inspirational for soundtracks than others, including the Smashing Pumpkins. The only reason Lydyce is a town by a lake is because of “Tonight Tonight”, just as the only reason Valery’s mother is called Luka is from the Suzanne Vega song of the same name. There are moments like this liberally scattered through my novels, and even I’m not sure where they all are, but there it is, a shameless display of klepotomania. “In Exile” even got its title from a Girls Against Boys song.

Music is also useful for creating a sense of place. The Kingdom is full of mountains and forests and it’s rugged and sparsely populated and it rains a lot, and when I think of it, I think of the Scottish Highlands. (Apologies for the denigration of the Scottish weather, but it’s true 😉 And one of the bands who bring a very Scottish sensbility to their music is Idlewild (and particularly Roddy Woomble’s more folky solo stuff). I’ve always said I want Roddy Woomble to score the movies of my books (yes, I’m still waiting for that call!)


In the above link, Jenn talks about having themes for her individual characters, but I seem to have themes for scenes, rather than characters, and some of them are very definite! I’ve always got half an ear out for songs that fit, songs that I can take inspiration from or songs that go well with any given scene, and it helps to listen to them, particularly when I’m editing or revising the novel. Anything to make the task of editing more fun!

To finish, I’m going to post the full tracklisting for “The Art of Forgetting”. Some of these songs are familiar, some are a bit more obscure, but if you listen to it as an album you can clearly see (clearly hear, actually, when I think about it) the split between the two volumes. And if you don’t know some of these songs, they’re all good and well worth a listen!

(I would have also added “The Captain” by Biffy Clyro”, and “Everybody’s Under Your Spell” by the Duke Spirit, but by the time I heard them there was no more room on the CD)

If you’ve read it, maybe you can spot some of the scenes… 😉 I’ve included pertinent lyrics. And I’ll give you the Bat for Lashes video because its gorgeous, and because when I heard it I was mildly staggered..

Happy Hunting!

BAT FOR LASHES – PEARLS DREAM “And when the battle was done, I was promised my son…”

THE CURE – A FOREST “Lost in a forest, all alone…”

SMASHING PUMPKINS – DISARM “The bitterness of one who’s left alone…”

SUZANNE VEGA – MARLENE ON THE WALL “You held me in your handsome fist, and reminded me of the night we kissed and why I should be leaving…”

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – NO ONE KNOWS “What you give to me, no one knows…”

30 SECONDS TO MARS – THE KILL “I tried to be someone else, but nothing seemed to change. I know now, this is who I really am inside…”

SCISSOR SISTERS – THE OTHER SIDE “If it takes another life, I’ll wait for you on the other side…”

THERAPY – TRIGGER INSIDE “I get the feeling I’ve been cheated…”

BLOOD RED SHOES – I WISH I WAS SOMEONE BETTER “I made a mistake.  I wear the scars to show my shame…”

AUDIOSLAVE – SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE “You gave me life, now show me how to live…”

BRITISH SEA POWER – REMEMBER ME “Will you remember me?”

EDITORS – BLOOD “Blood runs through your veins,  that’s where our similarity ends…”

ADMIRAL FREEBIE – RAGS AND RUN “Soon, I’m gonna leave my rags and run…”

SPIRITUALISED – STAY WITH ME “I love the way you smile.  Stay with me.  Smile all the time, don’t go…”

THE CHARLATANS – TRUST IN DESIRE “Lies a hero wrapped in fur…the prettiest brown eyes that I have ever seen…”

TINDERSTICKS – TRAVELLIN’ LIGHT “Everything I’ve done / You say you can justify?”

STONE ROSES – LOVE SPREADS “The Messiah is my sister, ain’t no king, man, she’s my queen…”

BAT FOR LASHES – HORSE AND I “Horse and I,  we’re dancers in the dark…You’re the chosen one, there’s no turning back…”

And a bit of Bat, to finish :