When writing a new novel I tend to compile a playlist of songs and sounds that might shape the narrative. Some songs offer a mood or ambience, or evoke a certain era, while others may lyrically have some sort of connection – literal or abstract – to the subject matter. Some have a geographical relevance or just features songs that I was listening to during the time in which the book was written.

Though I rarely listen to music while actually writing, I tend to regularly consult these compilations throughout the process. They are compiled as one would an imaginary soundtrack to a film adaptation of the work (I suspect many writers secretly cast actors for their characters too) and prove to be useful in anchoring me in the work.

These playlists are slightly amorphous entities, with songs being added and subtracted, so may change over the coming months…

You can access them below via Spotify. Simply click on the book titles and please enjoy them.

Beastings (2014)


(Photo by Alexander Binder)

A landscape-lead collection, from the widescreen instrumentals of Earth and the Cumbrian-hewn oddness of Wild Beasts whose subversion of masculine tropes is always worth investigating, through to various ancient and contemporary takes on what might be loosely be considered folk horror, or indigenous British music. Arthur Askey makes an appearance because any song can sound sinister in the wrong context.


Pig Iron (2012)

(Photo by Janine Wiedel)

Notes: there’s a strong north-east bent to these songs, which span traditional Durham and Northumbrian folk music through to contemporary guitar bands from the region. Some songs I simply imagined sounding good played on the radio in an ice cream van as it ran its route around the housing estates of the region. I’m not sure why Crass are on there – perhaps because a burst of Crass is like a good cup of coffee. A tactical necessity when energy levels are ebbing.