Recently the Beeb (BBC Radio 4) did an episode where they interviewed authors, and asked them to list their favourite writing music. I love this stuff – music is a huge thing for me and it’s so interesting to hear which songs inspired the books I love, or got the author through a painful drafting process, revisions etc. Sometimes the responses are surprising – one author who writes romance fiction listens to heavy metal while she writes. The styles and tastes are as varied as an individual author’s writing process.
My first drafts are always character-driven. My plot plan is like a road map with a few pins stuck into it. So long as we pass through the pins along the way and hit our final destination, I don’t really mind where the characters take me — which is lucky. They often lead me on wild detours I would have missed with more detailed planning. Most of the time it’s like getting lost on a roadtrip and discovering a little goldmine of a town you’d never think to visit on your own. The story and characters are richer for the experience. Most of the time. Sometimes they take me down a dusty road and even I’m asking “Are we there yet?” Those are the bits that get cut in the first round of edits.
My listening habits are a lot like my drafting style. The characters take over my brain and set the playlist according to their own tastes.
Because my current work-in-progress (CAM AND STICKS – working title, watch this space!) is dual-narrative, something interesting happened to me during the writing of this book. I found myself listening to “Cam” songs when I was working on his chapters, and “Sticks” songs while writing her chapters. Looking at the lists now, there’s a definite separation of tastes and character. There’s some crossover between the two – and inevitably there’s a piece of me in both lists – but I love how the final effect reflects their individuality, drives and fears.
This week I’m posting Cam’s playlist. In the coming weeks or so, I’ll post Sticks’s. With both, I started with a song that sums up the character’s starting point at the beginning of the book. The rest of the songs build around that theme, and work through the storyline. Cam references a few songs along the way, and I’ve added those too.
Cam’s list is more commercial, leaning toward folk and even a little bit country. With the book being set in Australia, and an amazing local music scene, I couldn’t help throwing in a few Aussie songs for flavour.
Here’s Cam’s list. Maybe one day readers will listen to the songs while reading the book. Then I’d truly be living the dream!