Writing Reality: Novel Soundtrack, “End of the Line”

21/06/2013 at 23:31 (Reviews, Writing, Writing Reality articles) (, , , , , , , , , )


I listen to music while writing; mainly instrumental, for less lyrical distraction, though a few softer vocalists make their way in too. Below is a selection I pulled together, of favoured artists and bands, for a would-be novel soundtrack. Sadly, Godspeed You! Black Emperor – with tracks generally running to a quarter-hour apiece – had to be consigned to the B-side of the vinyl issue, in the style of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes.’

1) The Levellers ‘Too Real’: Two mismatched teenagers, unlikely friends in a town of slow decay.

2) The Civil Wars,’20 Years’: The secret diary of a missing girl

3) Soley, ‘I Drown’: For the whimsy and idiocy of falling in love with a friend

4) The Levellers, ‘100 Years of Solitude’: For the Deathwalk race over the blustery Greenfell viaduct, towards the quarry – with gangs at your heels

5) I am Kloot, “Same Deep water as Me”: When the blues drag you both down, and neither can let go

6) Mogwai, ‘Too Raging to Cheers’: For the brassy evening light, hanging high in the trees, and the pollen-thick air; for wandering the old line

7) The Smiths, ‘I know it’s Over’: For that first, last dance. “Isn’t this a bit ominous?”

8) Soley, ‘Kill the Clown’: When the mask is pulled on, the man disappears into his past

9) The Levellers, ‘Red Sun Burns’: The blue moon rises, and the walls talk

10) Miriam Stockley, ‘Another Perfect Day’: The wind changes, lives move on – but there are no happy endings, because nothing ever ends

11) Blonde Redhead, ’23’: Played over end credits, scrolled over rhododendrons’ green-gold haze

Vinyl B-side: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “Dead Flag Blues” – for walking the length of the line under a bone white moon, towards the quarry.

That’s the gist of my first novel, “End of the Line” – old-gold light and blue-black shadows; racing through twisted undergrowth; an abandoned quarry and its disused rail line; hooky bus trips; slightly mental teachers; teen gang warfare, and a missing girl’s diary. All filtered through the 1st POV of a lad with too much going on upstairs for his own good. More fact, less context.

Letting go of the rail, clinging to the backs of each chair, she wobbles up the aisle. Litter clinks and rattles a colourful stream around her boots. “Nope. You’re a fellow outsider.”
I laugh. “Oh yeah. Because your drive-by knowledge of everything and everyone in this town, qualifies you an outsider.” Grunting, I plunk back down. “I think I’ll head in the back door, after all. Take my chances with the Mafia.”
She stares at me, all humour washed out of her eyes. “No, I wouldn’t say that’s a good idea. You’re an outsider because you’re new here. They’ll know it. Come in the front way.”
I smirk. “If I was being gross…”
The wishbone jaw tightens. She hefts the bag back up her shoulder. “Suit yourself,” she says shortly. “See you around.”
“Not likely,” I tell her. “You don’t seem like the kind of person someone like me would be seen with.”

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She has a halo, we really do adore her

03/12/2012 at 18:47 (Personal, Writing) (, , , )


Despite the chill outside, every one of our windows has been flung open. The main room and kitchen are flooded with smoke. Yes, it was another stellar attempt at cooking by Yours Truly, this time a cheese toastie for the fella’s dinner. It was a favourite meal of mine as a kid, courtesy of the mater.

Only, I forgot the part involving the toaster.

So the wok (substitute for saucepan) has cremated bread, butter and cheese stuck to it, and while the grated cheese on top melted quite well, the bottom of the bread … well, less said the better.

To be fair, we’re still giggling about it 15 minutes later. While giving me a hug and coughing, the fella decided it was safer to opt for his regular pasta and tomato sauce.

It’s probably best if I stick to cleaning and writing, really. Considering I come from a family of chefs on the mater’s side, it’s a bit rich. But I’ve never had the patience to learn how to cook properly, so live on a diet of toast, cottage cheese and soup myself. Oh, and flapjack – loads of it. Beats chocolate.

When wandering through misty woodland – especially of the ancient variety, as with the little area up the road from my house, once a vast forest – it’s best to keep an open mind about other possible users. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved “The Blair Witch Project.” But I get the feeling the guys who made this stuff, didn’t have it in mind, and possibly should’ve:

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The owls are not what they seem

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“Kill the clown … he’s so unfair.”

I’d taken myself down to the woods for a spot of Gonzo journalism – references for the penultimate chapters of my novel. The scene involved an abandoned, very much overgrown quarry, and the protagonist kids being stalked by murderous clowns. Even I wasn’t sure, while writing, if they were supernatural, or vindictive adults from the nearby town. Bit of both, I suspect.

After encountering the above woven thingummies strung from trees, and listening to Soley in my wanderings, I was more shit up by the experience than expected. Worked wonders for the writing later, though.

This strange weekend just past, I killed a man. To be honest, he has become one of the most frightening, sympathetic characters I’ve ever written.
Mr Redgrave was a prestigious teacher, a proud man with a low upbringing that crushed chips on both his shoulders. Ambitious to a fault, he’d fought his way up the town ranks to achieve popular esteem – but his heart was lost to a student, the daughter of one of his close associates, also a delegate of the school and town council – and a paedophile. Unable to properly shield the girl from her own father’s vile intentions, Redgrave took drastic measures to secure her happiness and safety.

And now he’s dead. I have to admit my own wankiness here, that I got choked up. It’s not easy, killing off a person whose head you’ve lived inside for over a year; even if he is a malignant tosser. He only had the girl’s best intentions at heart. His love for her spirit, despite all she’d been through, was his saving grace and his main weakness.

So now, the story tails itself down to the bittersweet end. I wouldn’t have it any other way. As Schmendrick the Magician put it in one of my favourite and most influential films, Peter .S. Beagle’s “The Last Unicorn”:
“There are no happy endings, because nothing ends.”
Which is how we carry on, with false dawns and new hopes and that painful ache in the chest whenever we remember someone, a time or a place that mattered.

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