Tag Archives: music

Reading Challenge for May – Read a book recommended by a friend…


Several friends have recommended If I Stay, by Gayle Forman, to me and it has sat languishing in my bedside table for a while now – this cover is for the version of the book I have and so must have been bought around the time of the film release. I can’t remember now if I bought this copy or if it was given to me to read – I have a feeling it’s the latter, but definitely can’t think who it came from. My author buddy Tony Talbot read and reviewed this on the Aside from Writing blog ages ago, so you can check out his thoughts there (spoiler alert!) if you like (also, it’s evidence of the recommendation!)

My thoughts… 

Before you are 20 pages in to this book, you are shocked into experiencing the same trauma as Mia. There’s so little pre-amble to the crash that it is shocking, even though you know that is what the book centres on before you start. You just don’t want this kind of thing to happen to characters like them – you feel how unfair and sad it is, when this type of tragedy strikes.

I found the comments and interviews (from the film actors) with Gayle Forman really interesting at the end, putting the story into context with her own experience of grief. There are so many facets of grief considered through the story: parental love for a child/younger sibling; romantic loss and that of losing your parents. Mia – sitting outside herself – is a very human, emotive vehicle for considering all these things, whilst reflecting back on the life she has lived and the relationships that have been built around her at that point.

This is, as you would expect, a difficult read in places. I think Gayle does a great job of managing the hard emotional parts of the present, with the backstory of the past. It has the mix in the book, just as you do with grief itself, of being overwhelmed by emotion and loss in one instant, then reminiscing and feeling the warmth of love, family and friends the next. I teared up a few times whilst reading, especially in the sections on Teddy, which Mia felt almost with a parental love for her much younger brother.

I think this is a story that will linger with you for a long time, whether it’s because of shared experiences of grief and how poignantly this is told within the story, or because of the emotion you feel for Mia’s fictional family and those of anyone in real life you experiences these similar freak tragedies.

This is a relatively short book and without formal chapters, you tend to read on through the scenes. Whilst very sad, I enjoyed this book, in so much as it has lingered with me the last few days since finishing and I’d like to read more about the characters I met.


Outlanders…I’m Writing (ish)

OUTLANDERS - Cover - 9

Outlanders…. A work in progress

So…with a little spare time on my side, I’m trying to make a ‘proper’ effort to do some writing and move the Outlanders story forwards. It’s a bit frustrating, as it’s not like I don’t know what’s going to happen, when, to who and how…I’ve just really been struggling these last few months to sit down and do anything productive with the manuscript.

I’ve just re-vamped my ‘playlist’ to try and help get the creative juices working and put me in the right mindset for writing, and funnily enough, I have found myself rather inspired by a song that I came across accidentally, which a friend of mine had done several years ago. And yes, it is now in my ‘inspiration’ playlist 🙂

I knew Kerry had worked in music before, but sometimes when you know someone in a different part of their lives it can be hard to picture them in one the others. Anyway, what I found funny when I came across this track was that her voice, the lyrics, even the tune reminded me of Cassie and the journey she’s got to go on in Outlanders. 

Here’s the track:

“Dream Another Dream” Featuring Kerry Lee Clark Produced and co-written by Rickytee

I love the idea that comes through in the song about making your own decisions, internal strength and moving forwards when life – or dreams – don’t happen the way you thought they would. Some of my favourite lyrics are:

“Find another way to be yourself some day”

“You’re choosing all the roads you follow, you gotta walk in your own shoes.”

“If you want to make it, you’ve got to take it, cos nothing’s free. / You build yourself a new tomorrow.”


So what do you think – do you like the track, feel the inspiration? Do you have your own playlists for your book when you’re writing? And any advice for making me knuckle down and get some work done 🙂



Songs to Live By

We all have them: songs from real life, songs from films… They stay with us for a long time and often the significance of them doesn’t change. But, do you use them much for books, either in writing them or reading them?

I’ve noticed more and more writers revealing their ‘playlists’ from when they were writing certain books and although I use them a little, wasn’t sure it was worth bothering people with a snapshot into my cheesy music collection to show how the Greatest Hits of Haddaway has inspired my creative endeavours.

Not that it’s something I tend to dwell on, but I know quite a lot of people who have thought about what they might have played at their funeral. I’m sincerely hoping that my pal who wanted Chris Rea ‘Road to Hell’ was joking – I’m 99% sure they were.

Top Ten Funeral Songs

I’m sure most of you could guess that ‘My Way’ would be on the top ten list – although I wonder if that’s how people really think they’ve done it, or more that it presents what they would like people to take away about them…? Is it just a rumour that Frank Sinatra had ‘My Way’ played at his funeral? For him, it would make sense, just likeOver the Rainbow’ being sung at Judy Garland’s. In any case, I don’t see many people looking to have ‘Barbie Girl’ by Aqua as their swan song, no matter how much pink they’ve worn or plastic they’ve had put into themselves.

I have been to a funerals where Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and Don’t Worry, Be Happy, have been the last tunes played – it definitely worked for those lovely individuals and getting people to smile, at your funeral, is surely an achievement. 

There are some beautiful, moving songs that although I love them, I probably would not want to have featured as ‘my last request’ (even if God is a DJ). So, although I’m not fully decided, I kind of lean towards the mellow, with a slightly upbeat message

I suppose it is a bit ‘My Way-ish’ when you look at the lyrics – but in my head it works.

Anyway – let’s move away from the depressing stuff! Book playlists – do they interest you? Do you do them for yourself, to inspire you to write, or even for books you’ve read? I occasionally take part in ‘Song on Sunday’ meme from Confessions of a Bookaholic blog and find that certain songs that are around at the time I’m reading remind me of characters or the book itself. You can take a look at some of my old ones and see if you agree.

For myself, I never used to make playlists, although I had certain music pieces that I would listen to and – a bit like a movie trailer – would see the whole book plot played out from start to end. The plot for Hope’s Daughter played out to this piece, The Final Fight, taken from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Radio Sunnydale album.

I’m sure you can guess that the ‘movie trailer’ had lots of exciting chase sequences, falling off cliffs and stolen glances, in my head at least. After opening on the space station and external images of Earth, the images moved on, building through some nice boy-girl stuff with Cassie and Balik (for about the first minute). Then the secrets start to come out, questions linger until with a sudden change, you’re into the fast-paced cliff-dropping, life-and-death, chase/fight stuff. If I was a real director, and didn’t have to rely on making book trailers with stock footage, this is what Hope’s Daughter would actually look like on You Tube. *wishful sigh* I don’t see me getting props, budget, actors and costumes for that do you? Unless I raid some kind of sci-fi convention, and I’m not they’d be up for it, if it wasn’t canon. Oh well – at least the music helped me write the book and visualise the overall plot.

Have things changed? They have a little, I suppose. I find that I do now consciously build more of a playlist when I’m in the early planning stages of the books – either to get my head into a world of images and emotions generated by the songs, or the characters, if the songs remind me of them and their experiences. I can then dip back into them – not necessarily as I’m writing, but when I get stuck – to remind myself of where we’re supposed to be going. I’m easily distracted, what can I say? Ooh look – a puppy!

In the future I might post the playlists on here to go with the books as they come out – it will be interesting to see whether people agree with me, or simply question my terrible, albeit random, music choices 🙂