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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Those unheard are sweeter

Ever thought novels ought to have soundtracks? I must admit, it's not something that ever occurs to me when absorbed in a good book, but I do occasionally use music as part of the writing process. On the site for her novel My Memories of a Future Life, my wife Roz has a series called "The Undercover Soundtrack" in which she talks to authors about the music they use to unlock the muse. In her own words:
"If a novel could have a soundtrack, what would it be? Writers often have a secret ur-score that helps them shape their world, understand their characters and unfold their story."
This week, Roz talks to fantasy author Katherine Langrish, acclaimed author of several fantasy novels for children and young adults, including the Troll Fell trilogy. For her latest book, Dark Angels (US title The Shadow Hunt*), Ms Langrish used the troubadour songs of southern France as part of the creative process; "I needed the plangent, plaintive music of the 12th century to understand my lead character's pain," she explains.

If you're interested in good fantasy literature and how it gets written, the interview is right here.

Odd btw that the US edition has a much more evocative title, but is marred by a cover that seems to have been taken from a Mills & Boon romance of the early 1950s. Check it out via the link only if you have a high tolerance for saccharine and chintz. The UK cover (above) at least has some oomph, if not actual oompapa.


  1. Interesting. I'll head over that way now. The link to Mrs Morris's blog is immediately below the link to the Fabled Lands blog in my list of bookmarks (and, curiously, both are a few steps above the link to the Mirabilis blog - but this is all down to circumstance, and the order in which I originally stumbled across these pages, you understand).

    A few years back, whenever I wrote something - or any time I worked in front of a computer, in fact - I'd listen to music. Always something something I QUITE liked, but not so much that I'd get distracted and start singing along to it (the rock group Alice in Chains slotted nicely into that range, I found). These days when I'm working, I need silence, silence, silence. My recent discovery of wax earplugs has boosted my productivity enormously. Now, if I can find a good cure for insomnia, I can get to work on my masterpiece...

  2. At certain stages in the creative process, when "dreaming the story into existence" as I think Alan Moore once described it, I'll use movie soundtracks. They seem to work because they're written to have a subliminal effect, not listened to the way you need to engage with, say, Mozart. I couldn't do the actual writing to music.

    There does seem to be an obsession in Britain with having a soundtrack *all the time*. You can't get a meal, a beer or even a cup of coffee without having music piped at you. Even some news programmes on TV play music while the reporters are talking. That's my bugbear. Maybe I ought to join these guys: