Category Archives: #am writing (and all things writing related)
So pleased to welcome Geek Girl author Holly Smale back to the blog today to talk about the Soundtrack that helped her write the first book in her brand new series which released yesterday.
SOUNDTRACK FOR HAPPY GIRL LUCKY
I always write to music, and every time I start a new book I usually have a handful of songs I turn to when I need to feel in the right mood, or get the right tone, or just generally have to click back into the mindset of the character I’m writing as. Sometimes they’re lyrically accurate, but they’re often more of a feeling: something that encapsulates how it feels to be my protagonist.
Happy Girl Lucky is a different kind of book to Geek Girl, and Hope is a very different girl to Harriet; she needed a new kind of soundtrack. She’s a very positive, confident, easy-going and high-energy girl, and the music I listened to needed to fit that: far less classical than with Geek Girl, with a lot more attitude.
Here’s a list of the songs I turned to again and again. Songs I think Hope would probably have on her iPod. Ironically, there’s quite a big cross-over between my Happy Girl Lucky playlist and my personal running playlist. In both cases, I need to feel uplifted, motivated and positive: maybe a little bit sassy and kick-ass.
All I Do Is Win – DJ Khaled
I love this track – it’s so amped and fearless. There’s so much exuberant confidence, so much go go go. I feel like Hope would be listening to this in her room to motivate her; she’d probably have her own little dance for it.
Don’t Delete The Kisses – Wolf Alice
Another personal favourite. This is so sweet, so teenage and so perfectly encapsulates a huge, joyful crush. With – I think – a perfect undercurrent of anxiety and fear that you won’t get what you want.
Waiting For A Star To Fall – Boy Meets Girl
A straight-down-the-line love song, and one I used to dance round the living room to as a child in the 80s. It’s so buoyant, so happy, so playfully romantic. I feel like Hope would appreciate the 80s vibe immensely, and whenever I need a shot of sweet hopefulness I stick this one on.
Transatlanticism – Death Cab for Cutie
Bit of a change with some solid emo, but for someone in a long distance relationship between the UK and America, this feels yearning and pretty fitting. As happy as Hope usually is, there are moments in the book where she is genuinely struggling with sadness and I needed to find music to fit that.
Soda – The Cinematic Orchestra
Again, while Hope is generally very upbeat there are moments where she needs to be quiet, thoughtful, more introverted. This is one of my favourites – I’ve taken it around the world with me, on various road-trips through India and Asia – so it helps me tap into that. It really is a great one for beautiful landscapes.
Safe and Sound – Capital Cities
Not going to lie: this is one of my favourite running tracks of all time, and it’s also one I turned to over and over again for Hope. It has a similar, fast rhythm to the others – it’s the right tempo for Hope – but it also has a beautiful optimism to the lyrics.
Where No-one Goes – JONSI
Okay, this is famously the soundtrack to How To Train Your Dragon. But I’ve been a fan of Jonsi for nearly 20 years – he was in one of my favourite bands, Sigur Ros – and this is so beautifully hopeful, so upbeat, so sweet, so brave, so free-ing. In my mind, this is where the book ends up: this is so perfect for the mind-set Hope ultimately reaches. If I have to choose one song for Happy Girl Lucky, it’s this one. It’ll always be the one that reminds me of Hope.
Huge thanks to Holly for sharing her HGL playlist inspired by its point of view character Hope. Lots of tracks I wasn’t familiar with on there. I’ve created a YouTube playlist if you want to listen to it before or after reading Happy Girl Lucky. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzXeNd36_QuQbSGGrRfDui23h-nm85Q6f
Each book in the Valentines series will focus on a different member of Hope’s family and I’m sure their playlists will all be very different.
Do come back tomorrow for my review of Happy Girl Lucky.
Continuing with the spooky theme – today I have a guest post from Sarah Epstein author of psychological thriller Small Spaces.
Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing. As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?
Sarah Epstein spent her childhood drawing, daydreaming and cobbling together books at the kitchen table. A writer, illustrator and designer, she grew up in suburban Sydney and now lives in Melbourne with her husband and two sons. She is passionate about YA, especially the thriller genre, which is her favourite to read. Small Spaces is her first novel.
Are Characters Writers’ Imaginary Friends? by Sarah Epstein
Imaginary friends have always fascinated me. And while I don’t remember having one myself as a child, I’ve encountered plenty of people who did. When my own kids were small and attending playgroup and kindergarten, I’d hear stories from mothers about how they’d overheard their child’s one-sided conversations in the bath, or how their child’s invisible friend had to have a place set at the dinner table. I’d always think, where do these imaginary friends come from? Are they tied to emotional issues, loneliness or just boredom? Are they coping mechanisms, a cry for attention, or even, as some suggest, a spiritual presence that a child’s mind is open enough to see?
It was a subject I wanted to explore in a story. But in many ways I’ve been writing about imaginary friends for years – my own. The characters I create who tell me their story.
In Small Spaces, I wrote about my protagonist Tash’s experiences with her imaginary friend, Sparrow, both as a young child and as a teenager. To do this, I had to understand Tash’s character inside and out – her hopes, dreams, fears and faults – so I could figure out how she would react to the appearance of Sparrow and the situations his presence would put her through.
In a sense, Tash became my imaginary friend, because she was constantly talking in my head. She was with me while I walked my dog, took showers, and late at night when I was trying to switch my brain off to go to sleep. For writers, this is nothing new. Our characters are shadowing us everywhere we go, especially during the drafting stage of a novel when we’re trying to work out exactly who they are. You imagine how they look, speak, think and act, who they are closest to in the world, and what makes them angry or afraid. Soon they become more than just fictional characters – they become friends we are passionate about. They become friends we are rooting for, friends who are keeping us company on our writing journey as well as actively driving our stories.
And, until readers discover these characters, they are friends created in our imagination that no one else can see.
Is this so different from the imaginary friends some of us invented during childhood? If they were created for company, entertainment, comfort or even a bit of attention, perhaps it’s not so different at all. And while I may not set a place for Tash at my dinner table, or hold a conversation with her in the bath, she’s always with me, tucked away inside my head.
Thanks so much to Sarah for this insight into how characters can ‘live and breathe’ for the writer. Hope everyone taking part in NaNoWriMo has picked nice people to spend the next month with
For the first of my two stops on the blog tour for Forsaken Genesis I’d like to welcome author M. J. Marinescu with a guest post on the best things about being an author.
Hi everyone, today I’m going to go over some of my favourite things about being an author. This is by no means a be all end all list, but it’s just some of the things that I love most about my job.
Being your own boss: As an author, you get to be your own boss (for the most part). Some traditionally published authors do have a boss in a sense, they have a publisher who gives them a deadline or an agent that schedules events and meetings etc., but for the most part, even they are in control of their own day to day activities.
Self-published and Indie-published authors are in even more control of their day to day routines. This can be good or bad for people. It takes a highly motivated and driven person to succeed as a self-published or Indie author. You do not have an agent or publishing house marketing your work, so you need to get out there and do it all yourself. Being able to set your own schedule and pace can be very rewarding.
For me, this isn’t so bad because I love interacting with people, especially fans, not even necessarily my own fans but fans of sci-fi and fantasy in general. I, like many other writers, do have deep running anxiety about “being out in the world” but you need to learn to deal with the butterflies and get out there and spread the word.
Working at something you love: This should probably go without saying, but I love telling stories and sharing them with people. Shortly after I learned to read and write I started creating stories. My first story ever written was about a spacefaring penguin. I remember being so happy and proud of it and bringing it in to my kindergarten teacher. She was even impressed, and we used to read them out to the class. Ever since that day I was hooked.
I know it’s totally cliché to say but if you’re doing something you love you never have to work a day in your life.
Interacting with readers: The best part about writing to me is seeing peoples’ reactions to my stories. Having them fall in love with and/or hate certain characters. Reading fan theories or forums discussing little details most people may overlook. These are the best things about being a writer. There’s nothing better than knowing people love your work, the world and characters you’ve created. If I can make someone’s day a little better through my writing, then I’ve done my job, and without the wonderful fans, I could not do what I do.
Creation! A God am I: I love being able to create worlds and people. Something that I have really noticed lately, in Hollywood especially (sorry to call you out Hollywood) is the lack of original ideas or willingness to take risks on new ideas. We’re seeing this more and more with all the reboots from 80’s and 90’s movies and cartoons and generally predictable movies.
One thing that I enjoy doing is taking ideas and putting my own spin on them. You can see this in my novel Forsaken Genesis. While it’s an “Urban Fantasy” I have taken things and thrown them all together. It’s why I struggle to give my book a genre because it combines so many elements of different ones. Is it Cyberpunk? New Adult? Young Adult? Urban Fantasy? LGBTQ+ Fiction etc. etc.
Being able to let your imagination run wild to create fantastical worlds and places is a wonderful feeling. One word of warning, however, is that to always make sure you have a solid foundation for your worlds and abide by the rules you have created. One of my pet peeves as a fan (and I’m sure I’m not alone on this) is when a writer sets up a world and tells us the rules only to have something come along later and change things on us. Gravity will always be gravity, I don’t expect to wake up one morning, take a step outside and float off into space so don’t do that in your writing either. This may be a bit of an extreme example, but the notion holds true. Your readers deserve better than that so think twice before you do something “against your rules”.
The other thing I love about being free to create the stories I want to tell is that I can do just that. I can tell the story that I want to tell. If you want to see more diversity and representation in movies, art and literature sometimes you need to get out there and do it yourself. I pride myself on having diversity in my stories that doesn’t feel forced. My characters are who they are, period. They aren’t held back by their identity or used as a “token” they are fleshed out beings and I hope people can smile and feel proud and even relate to them.
There’s nothing in the world I would rather do than tell a good story.
So those are some of the things that I love most about being an author. What do you all think? What are some of your favourite things about writing? Let me know in the comments below or if you have any other questions or even if you just want to talk hit me up on Twitter @MJMarinescu. Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this, hope you all have a great day and I’ll talk to you soon.
Come back on Halloween to find out more about Forsaken Genesis.