I’m away at Iceland Noir at the moment and next week I’ll be north of the border for Book Week Scotland. Normal service will resume at the end of the month but today I’m continuing the series featuring authors and the music they write to. It’s a little bit different from the usual format.
Tess Makovesky describes herself as a Liverpool lass who is now settled in the far north of England where she roams the fells with a brolly, dreaming up new stories and startling the occasional sheep. She’s written the following on music she writes to. Rather than break up the prose with the YouTube videos I normally post, I’ve embedded links on the appropriate songs. I hope you enjoy it!
FOR THE LOVE OF FLOYD
I’m going to start this post with a confession – I rarely listen to music while I’m writing. This is because for me, writing and music don’t mix. Either the writing is going well, in which case I’m concentrating so hard I’m unaware of anything and everything else, including the music. Or the writing isn’t going well, in which case the music becomes an irritating distraction leading to yet more procrastination. Oh, I’ll just finish listening to this track. Oh, hang on, this is a good one… Hmm. You get the drift.
However, just because I don’t listen to music doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it. I love music, of all sorts of odd types – everything from blues to Russian Orthodox church music to heavy metal – and I find it influences my writing in all sorts of ways.
Last year, for instance, I wrote a short story involving Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. And my most recent publication, a psychological noir novella called Raise the Blade, was heavily influenced by Pink Floyd.
I’ve been a massive fan of Floyd ever since I first came across them, too many years ago for comfort. I love the music itself, with its strange mixture of rock, psychedelia and delicate harmony. But I also love the lyrics. If you listen closely, many of their tracks are desperately sad, plaintive paeons to loss, ageing and, in particular, insanity, which forms an ongoing theme throughout their albums.
One of my favourite albums has always been Dark Side of the Moon and one of my favourite tracks on that album is Brain Damage. It’s incredible. Not so much a song, as a piece of modern poetry set to the haunting music. Lyrics such as ‟The paper holds their folded faces to the floor And every day the paper boy brings more…” sent shivers down my spine when I first heard them – and still do, the best part of 30 years later. And best of all, the line: ‟You raise the blade, you make the change, you rearrange me till I’m sane…” Listening to that again whilst scribbling the first draft of my novella made me realise that in some weird way it was the book, summed up the plot and the theme perfectly. In one short minute it gave me both the title, and the motivation of Duncan, the serial killer who is in many ways the book’s main character.
That was the serious part. After that, I decided to have some fun, and dropped all sorts of references to the track’s other lyrics (though no actual lyrics, for obvious reasons) throughout the pages. Some are obvious (the title, Duncan’s address on Floyd Road) whilst others are much more craftily hidden. So much so, I’m still spotting new ones even now, weeks after publication, which just goes to show how well the track got under my skin.
And now? Well, now I’m putting the finishing touches to my next novella Gravy Train and I have two more in various stages of completion called Embers of Bridges and Consumed by Slow Decay. Anyone spot a trend?
Thank you Tess for contributing to this series. Below is some info about Tess – I’m a big fan of her short stories.
Tess writes a distinctive brand of British comédie noir and her short stories have darkened the pages of various anthologies and magazines, including Shotgun Honey, Pulp Metal Magazine, Drag Noir (Fox Spirit), Rogue (Near to the Knuckle), and Locked and Loaded (One Eye Press). Her debut novella, a psychological noir called Raise the Blade, is available now from Caffeine Nights Publishing.
You can follow her ramblings (both literary and literal) at her blog: http://tessmakovesky.wordpress.com/ .