Music to Write Books By – Margot Kinberg

picture1-of-margot-kinbergToday on Crimepieces, I’m delighted to have Margot Kinberg sharing her music choices. When I first started this blog in 2011, while living in the Athenian heat, Margot commented on my very first book review. She’s been a great supporter of Crimepieces since its early days and also of my own writing. Those of you who know Margot’s own blog, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, which has been running since 2009, are aware she uses a lyric from a song as the title of each blog post. So music is firmly woven into Margot’s writing.

Margot writes the Joel Williams mystery series. Two of them, Publish or Perish and B-Very Flat are available now. Past Tense will be available 1 November and I can’t wait to read it. She is also an Associate Professor.

Hi Margot – do you have particular pieces of music you write to?

The music I listen to when I write really depends on what I’m writing. So, for instance, the music I listened to as I was writing Past Tense was different to what I’ve listened to for other things I’ve written.

In Past Tense, a missing person case from 1974 comes up again when a set of bones are found on the campus of Tilton University. So I wanted music that would evoke the 1970s. Since the victim in this case is a fledgling investigative journalist, I could think of nothing better than David Shire’s theme from Alan J. Pakula’s All The President’s Men. I also listened to other music from the mid-1970s (mostly rock and roll) to keep me inspired.


Has a particular piece of music ever inspired you to write something?

Some of the inspiration for B-Very Flat came from Bach’s Sonata #3 in C Major. The murder victim in that novel is a violin virtuosa, and the novel’s focus is an important violin competition. This piece captures the passion for the violin. Listening to it helped me focus my thoughts and inspired me to create that context.


Could you recommend any particular pieces of music for a specific mood?

Hmmm… everyone’s different about songs’ impacts. But I’ve found that Miles Davis’ Blue in Green is perfect for getting me in the mood to write either lonely passages or those late-at-night contemplative sorts of passages. You know, the sort of scene where a character is sitting with a glass of red wine or a whisky late at night.

Are there any longer pieces you can recommend? If you need to write for an hour, for example, is there a particular composer/artist you’d choose?

As much as I love rock and roll (and I do!!), if I’m going to really concentrate on writing for an hour, I listen to jazz. For instance, I like John Coltrane’s Giant Steps release very much.


What are you working on at the moment?

Thanks for asking. Right now, I’m working on a standalone novel. In it, a fifteen-year-old homeless girl, Staci McKinney, witnesses the aftermath of a murder. The criminals catch sight of her, too. In part, the novel follows Staci as she tries to stay clear of the murderers and survive. As the novel goes on, she’s befriended by Leo Slater, a thief and fence who has his own past history. Staci decides to work with Leo, who in turn, gives her a safe place to live and some protection against the criminals who are looking for her. The novel follows the murder investigation as well as what happens in Staci’s own life. It’s a bit of a departure for me, as it’s a slightly darker novel than what I usually write. So the music that’s inspiring me is quite different, too. For instance, one song I’ve been listening to is Everlast’s What It’s Like (not exactly for family listening…)

Thanks so much for inviting me to be a part of this feature, Sarah!

Thanks for coming on, Margot, and good luck with the writing. The complete list of music chosen by writers can be found on the YouTube channel.

29 thoughts on “Music to Write Books By – Margot Kinberg

  1. Pingback: How the Music Can Free Her Whenever it Starts* | Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...

    1. Margot Kinberg

      Thanks, John. For me, anyway, it depends on what music I’m listening to, and what I’m writing. You’ll notice I didn’t mention Billy Joel in this post. His music is far too distracting (in a great way!) for me to use for writing…


  2. I love music too, so I wish I could write with the radio on. Unfortunately, I’m one of those writers who needs silence or I get distracted. Even the humming of the printer bugs me. When I want music, I sit down in a comfy chair and just listen. If I tried to even scribble notes or play a computer game, I’d lose focus and not hear the songs. I guess that tells you I’m no good at multi-tasking.


    1. Margot Kinberg

      I’m that way, too, Pat about certain songs. Certain artists and their songs get me singing along so that I can’t listen to them when I write. And I can’t play computer games while I”m trying to write, either.


  3. Margot knows her music as well as she knows her crime fiction and that’s really something. Words should flow from one’s pen at the same time as music falls on the ears resulting in a perfect symphony. Great post and interview, Sarah!


    1. Margot Kinberg

      Thank you very much for the kind words, Prashant. I like your description of music and writing, too. And you’re right: Sarah is a fantastic interviewer.


  4. What a brilliant post – Margot, your music choices are very inspiring and it’s so good to hear some of your choices to write to. I know I’ve said it before but the way you link a line from a piece of music to each of your posts is amazing.


    1. Margot Kinberg

      That’s awfully kind of you, Cleo 🙂 I’m glad you enjoy that musical touch. And thanks for the kind words about my choices, too. Everyone’s so individual about music; I just know what works for me …

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yet another interesting selection — what an interesting series tyhis is proving to be.

    Gotta confess, I’d never even heard of Everlast, but that’s a very nice track. Must go and investigate further . . .


    1. Margot Kinberg

      Thanks, Realthog. I’m finding this feature both interesting and helpful, actually. And it’s a real feather in my cap to have been invited to be here.


    1. Margot Kinberg

      He does inspire me, Bill – he really does. But I can’t easily translate that awesome energy into words when I’m actually listening to his music. It’s just too much for one person at one time…


  6. tracybham

    I had to hear what Margot had to say about the music she listens to when writing, since I love that (almost?) every title for the posts on her blog are from songs. I was surprised at Margot’s answers and interested to hear about the book she is currently working on.


    1. Margot Kinberg

      Thank you, Moira! We’ll see how the project goes. And as for Coltrane? If you do get the time, I recommend that release. What a talent!


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