I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that music is instrumental (forgive the pun) in my writing. It stirs emotion, it inspires, it creates ambiance, it lets the imagination take flight. I have varied tastes when it comes to music, and I listen to an eclectic mix when writing in my study.
When I write, I use a variety of settings and characters of different nationalities. I find a good way to get in touch with a place or a person I’m writing about is to listen to fitting music.
For example, in Burning Embers before coming to Kenya the protagonist Coral had lived much of her life in England, and spent time in America. So I listened to late sixties and early seventies music from America and the UK; for example, Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Rafe, meanwhile, has French in his heritage, so I listened to music like that by France Gall, Brigitte Bardot and Christophe Dalida.
If I want to think Spanish, I listen to Latin American music, or Julio Iglesias or Jeanette. If I’m writing about Italy or an Italian, I listen to Peppino di Capri and Don Backy and Mina (‘In Ciel Una Stansa’, a song from the 1961 film Pecce d’Oro et Bikini d’Argento that’s set in Capri, gives me the shivers and I listened to it a lot while writing Burning Embers).
And then there are the classics – beautiful pieces of music that quite simply inspire me to write romance because they speak of beauty and desire and conflict and union. The works of Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Bizet, Delibes and Rimsky Korsakov (especially ‘Scheherazade’ and ‘The Golden Cockerel’). And the beauty of Adagio in G Minor (Albinoni) (listen for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMbvcp480Y4).
In another life, perhaps I’d have been a musician, such is my love for music (sadly, I never excelled at an instrument). But then I think that writing has a music of its own – the tap of the keyboard as you type or the pen on the table as you think; the swish of pages as you read; the very rhythm of the words and the sense of flow and pace through the narrative that, as do all pieces of music, builds to a climax. As Truman Capote put it: ‘To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.’