Friday Five: The soundtrack edition

I’ve always liked listening to (loud) music to kickstart a writing session. It energises me and helps to block out both the real world and extraneous mind-chatter.

These days I go a step further and create a soundtrack for the story I’m working on. This works in two ways: the act of choosing music helps me ‘discover’ the world of the story and, because I listen to the same stuff  every time I work on the book, it becomes a path into that world.

I have to steer clear of things that already have strong, personal resonances, and I also have to accept that I may be sick to the back teeth of the tracks in twelve months time. Luckily, that seems to wear off again. My first book had an all-Aretha Franklin soundtrack and I still adore her!

I’m in the early stages of a new book and the soundtrack is a work in progress, but I thought I’d share some of it.

1. First up is Blue Orchid by The White Stripes. This occurs half way through the compilation, but sometimes I put it on first as a shot-of-addrenaline to get me started.

2. There’s a lot of dreamy, quiet music so far, and Shine by Laura Marling has a haunting, aching quality that’s just perfect.

3. Etta James I’d Rather Go Blind.This isn’t a theme for a romantic storyline; it’s an emblem of the antagonist’s destructive obsession.

4. Evil (Is Going On) by Howlin’ Wolf. Yes, there’s a lot of evil in the book. Fun!

5. This last track is one I put on initially just because I liked it and the title ‘Shapes and Shadows’ felt right. Not sure where it fits in terms of the book, but I’m going  to trust that my subconscious knows what it’s doing.

How about you? Do you listen to music while writing or do you require silence? Have you tried making a book soundtrack?

An alternative Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s y’all.

I’m a soppy bugger and like any excuse to exchange extra smooches/cards/poems/sweeties with my honey.

If, however, you are busy bah-humbugging the holiday for its Hallmark-hijacked cuteness and the current adverts/shop displays have left you feeling queasy, here’s my Valentine’s Day antidote.

Step 1. Listen to Jonathan Coulton. I ‘discovered’ this internet sensation relatively recently and my favourite song is probably Re. Your Brains as it’s about zombies and has the immortal line: ‘We’re not unreasonable, I mean, no one’s going to eat your eyes’. However, Code Monkey, is also fabulous and probably a little more romantically suitable.

Step 2: Watch The Flight of the Conchords singing Business Time (above). If you haven’t already done so, purchase both seasons of the TV series which followed their stage show.

Step 3: Snuggle with your beloved. If you don’t have a readily-available beloved, snuggle with a book. I’m loving Laini Taylor’s The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It definitely deserves a Valentine’s smooch. Mwah!

What? You don’t smooch your books? Weirdos…

Vinyl nostalgia

Take a break from your modern Monday and head to Retronaut for a gallery of ‘celebrities and their vinyl’. The black and white images include John Lennon, Audrey Hepburn, Jack Nicholson and Jimi Hendrix, and looking at them gives me a Nostalgia Stomach Ache. In a good way.

I particularly like this picture of Elvis… Might be my favourite Presley portrait.