Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Stolen Meme, part 5

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol’ pen and paper?

At my computer in my office, which is a rather optimistic term for the spare room. I've written on my netbook before, but it's not particularly comfortable even if I've got a proper chair and table. I find the screen and keyboard too close together--and not just because it's a mini laptop. Full-size laptops aren't very comfy for me for long periods either, and I wind up with really appalling, stabbing shoulder pain from constantly raising my hands too high and craning my neck down. Possibly this is related to being about six inches taller than average. Maybe normal people don't get this. Either way, I have one of those odd kneeling chairs and a computer desk, and raise my keyboard up by way of an old Next Directory. Since the Mac's screen is bigger than many people's TVs (and I got the small one!) I don't need to raise it at all.

I tend to write more in the afternoons and evenings, often well after everyone else has gone to bed--this way there are way fewer interruptions! I'm totally useless in the morning and require several hours and many, many cups of coffee before I can be relied upon to form a coherent sentence.

I write at the computer because my handwriting is appalling, and slow. I can type much faster than I can handwrite, and anyway if I wrote by hand I'd still have to type it all up later!

7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?

I do sometimes, although often it's a distraction (for instance the last few weeks with the builders playing the radio all day, often outside my office window, have been totally unproductive). If I listen to music it's usually because it's 'soundtracking' the scene I'm writing. I listen to all kinds, and it usually depends on what sort of book I'm writing. When I wrote the Empire series, I had a playlist which included Coldplay, Kasabian, Basement Jaxx, and soundtracks from Doctor Who and The Devil's Whore.

Sophie has a huge, sprawling soundtrack; not surprising really since there are at least four books. Among the tracks are: Natalie Imbruglia's Just Another Day (which was only a B side for some unfathomable reason) for the beginning of I, Spy? and Sophie's boring, mundane life; Chris Isaak's I Wonder for a post-break-up scene in Ugley Business; Elton John's Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters for the New York scenes at the end of A is for Apple, and KT Tunstall's Other Side of the World for a scene that only comprises one paragraph in Still Waters, but in my head is a deliciously poignant movie moment near the end.

Kett's song was Train's Meet Virginia: "She doesn't own a dress, her hair is always a mess, if you catch her stealing she won't confess; she's beautiful. She smokes a pack a day..."

LungsHardest of Hearts was written to Florence & the Machine's Lungs album, the exteneded one actually, which is where the title came from. Most especially it was inspired by Howl: "If you could only see the beast you've made of me, I held it in but now it seems you've set it running free..."

One day, I'll write a song about the subject of Billy Joel's Always A Woman. She'll be a hell of a character.


  1. I can't write to music, I find myself writing the story of the song which, given my current prediliction for Pendulum, would give rise to some very odd books. But music is a great mood changer, if I have to write something sad I can always take myself down with a bit of Snow Patrol, songs my son calls 'sedatives for dogs'.

  2. It took me ages to get used to my netbook, but now I love it.

    And I cannot write to music! I find myself actually typing random words from the lyrics into sentences.

  3. I agree about the Billy Joel song! I've often thought she would be a good heroine.

    I'm loving reading these posts, by the way; it's nice to see how your writing all fits together.

  4. Snow Patrol is indeed good for lowering the mood, unless my mother is around, in which case I just get annoyed because she only knows one song and insists on referring to it as "That one where he just lies around being miserable." Sigh.

  5. Talli, I do find myself sometimes just sitting listening to the music, singing along, instead of writing. And I've been known to type things I've overheard--conversations, TV adverts etc--which makes for some very odd sentences!

  6. The Billy Joel heroine would be very interesting indeed, Julie, quite a challenge I think. I was quite amused by its use in the John Lewis advert, from which I infer that their perfect customer steals like a thief.

  7. LOL, I do think that's a reasonable conclusion. Perhaps we should try it out.

  8. It would definitely make for an interesting defence in court.