Monday, June 4, 2012

The Sound of ACID

In 'On Writing', Stephen King (one of my favourite writers ever) says that he writes to loud music:

'For me the music is… another way of shutting the door. It surrounds me, keeps the mundane world out. When you write, you want to get rid of the world, do you not? Of course you do. When you're writing, you're creating your own worlds.'

That's exactly how I feel about music and writing too. I find it much harder to write in silence than if I'm surrounded by a wall of sound. Certain bands and songs become inextricably linked to whatever I'm working on while I'm listening to them; for example, I can't hear anything by the Strokes without being transported back to the world of my first YA novel which I wrote 9 years ago, a contemporary school story. And Bloc Party and Hard-Fi? My second novel, which was all about a summer holiday love triangle (even more complicated for me to write than it was for the characters to live through!).

However, I never put together an actual soundtrack for any of my books until I wrote ACID.

So what was different about it? Why this book, and not the others? The main reason, I think, was that it was a thriller (the first time I'd returned to that genre since I realised I wanted to be an author at 13), and as I was writing it, it unfolded in my head like a film. I could see each scene as if it was playing on a screen in front of me, and found that certain songs captured the mood of these scenes perfectly, helping me get them down on paper (well, okay, onto the computer) more or less exactly as I envisioned them.

ACID is a dark, gritty book with a lot of urban settings, so the soundtrack contains several electronica and dance tracks. There's some rock in there too, though, and even some indie. I've had it playing on repeat as I've worked through each draft, then my edits and now my copyedits, and I still haven't got tired of it. Here it is (click on links to view on YouTube):

And my WIP, although it's only a half-written first draft, already has a soundtrack too. I'll leave you with the theme tune, the mindblowing Many of Horror by Biffy Clyro

What about you? Do you make soundtracks for your WIPs? What's on them?

Emma Pass grew up at an environmental studies centre near London, went to art school in Cornwall and now lives in the north-east Midlands with her artist husband, where she has a day job at her local library. She's also minion to The Hound, a retired racing greyhound with whom she appears to have signed a contract in her own blood agreeing to attend to his every need – even if those needs include getting up at 3am to remake his bed because he's scratched it up so much he can't get back in it. 
Emma is represented by Carolyn Whitaker at London Independent Books and her YA dystopian thriller ACID is out from Random House Children's Books in early 2013. You can find her blog here, and catch her procrastinating on Twitter here.


  1. I don't do soundtracks but when I write certain scenes, I'm partial to certain types of music, definitely. Music is as critical to the writing process as chocolate and coffee.

  2. I have to say that I have never heard of this before, but what a GREAT idea! Do you play the same song over and over while writing a certain scene?

  3. This is a great thing for you to do! Nice post.

  4. I totally do this. I associate soundtracks with manuscripts!

  5. I've never done soundtracks, but I find it hard to write without music on. Even if it's just the radio.

  6. I need music to write to, as well! And I'll usually loop a song on repeat for a certain scene. (I have very scary play counts on some songs!) Thanks, Emma!

  7. I love this! For the novel I'm currently querying I had two theme songs -- one that represented the beginning part of the book and one the last third.... I listened to them every time I sat down to write! I definitely associate music with almost everything I write -- that said, I have yet to figure out the music for my current WIP or WIP-in-planning! Great post, Emma!

  8. Broken Bells--they're on my Devil soundtrack. And Beirut. And Bon Iver. And Conan the Barbarian, the original film, various's totally bril for putting you in a conquering mood.