Some authors can listen to music while they're writing, they enjoy it, it helps their muse and their flow. But not me, I need silence. I thrive on peace and quiet and the knowledge that I won't be disturbed for a reasonable length of time - enough time to immerse myself in my thoughts and see and hear the story in my head that's coming out onto the page.
That's not to say that music doesn't inspire me though. I'm often driving along or cooking (the two things I always do with music in the background) and the lyrics will give rise to an emotion that spins into a story, or at least a scene within a story. Lyrics can be so wonderfully precise, capture a whole scenario or a particular angst that I can't help but wonder about the history behind the words, and that of the singer/songwriter.
I do enjoy songs with a story behind them, this is one of my favourites. It's Beth Rowley sing an old Etta James song, Almost Persuaded.
I love the line 'a smile any girl would understand', it works in way that is personal to the listener. It has a nice sentiment too. Yes, I know, I'm a softie :-)
When creating characters I nearly always have in my mind what kind of music they like, it's part of their makeup the same way it is part of mine. In fact the first short story I had contracted at Ellora's Cave was called Mattress Music - here's a snippet - it's a dose of naughty fun...
Elton was killing me. I needed to do something—fast. I glanced at my iPod in the far corner of the room. The small blue circle stared at me uncaring, as if it knew I’d lost the remote in the move and could do nothing, in my current compromised position, to shuffle the droning song.
And boy, did I need to fast-forward Candle in the Wind. It had conjured a head full of images of Marilyn and Diana, big hair, sweet smiles, churches, orphans—
And it seems to me you lived your life—
I pulled in a deep breath and focused my attentions. What did it matter what song played? Its purpose was to mask noise as I concentrated on Ian, the hot guy I’d picked up at the Solo Bar. He was where my thoughts should be trained, not icons and princesses and worrying about my new flatmates hearing our sex noises.
Because bless him, Ian was doing his best down there, licking and sucking, swirling and fondling. Hell, he even had two fingers searching out my G-spot. But what could I do? My head wasn’t in it—
Your candle burned out long before—
Neither was my body...
“What’s up?” Ian asked, throwing off the duvet as he came up for air.
“Nothing, I’m fine.” I curled my hands over his wide shoulders and pulled him down for a kiss. He tasted of me, hot and spicy, slippery-tongued. He settled his sheathed erection between my legs and prodded my entrance. All I could think of was Marilyn being found in the nude, Diana forever in England’s greenest hills.
“God, you feel good,” he said in a tight voice. “So damn good, I won’t last long.” He had a rugged, should’ve-shaved look and now, hovering over me with his face flushed, pupils wide and a sheen of sweat on his brow, he really was drop-dead gorgeous.
I wrapped my legs around his hard thighs and encouraged him in. Despite his appeal, it was just as well he wouldn’t last long. Because there was no way I was going to climax, not with Elton warbling on miserably about dead people. Might as well get it over with, then I could turn off the abysmal mattress music and get some sleep.
* * * * *
Mattress Music initially, as you can tell, is about how the wrong music can really ruin the mood in the bedroom for lovers and send your mind in all kind of directions it shouldn't be going in. In this sense, writing is like sex for me, if I had the wrong music playing in my little pink office when I was writing, it could spoil the mood for both me and my characters! That's why when it comes to music it stays in the car and the kitchen for me.
Thanks for reading
PS - My favourite Christmas song - Wham's Last Christmas!