I’m writing a novel this summer, or at least until the semester starts. Without divulging too much, it’s a crime novel, which is a return to my literary roots. I grew up reading detective fiction by Rex Stout, Agatha Christie, Colin Dexter, and others. The novel is (unsurprisingly) set in Flagstaff, Arizona, and mixes fictional and historic criminal cases.
Like most writers, I listen to music when I write. It blocks out distractions and helps put me into whatever mood I need to be in to write, which for me changes from story to story. I try to create a certain atmosphere for myself when I write, something that suits the tone, plot, characters, and setting I’m writing about. For most short stories and essays, I listen to one or two tracks on repeat, usually folk music or classical. A novel, though, is different. I need numerous moods for the story’s numerous characters. So I created a playlist catered to the overlapping atmospheres I want to write in.
The songs in this playlist work together eclectically. Some songs suit a specific character (“The Boxer” and “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”) while others suit the plot (“No Man Knows My Destiny” and “Runaway”). For a crime novel, I want mostly minor keys and acoustic sounds, with strategically surreal lyrics (crimey music, in other words). More than anything, I want to feel immersed into the fictional world I’m working in, a sense of a world that is closed in, identifiable, and aesthetically comprehensive.
My novel playlist is as follows:
“19th Nervous Breakdown” by The Rolling Stones
“Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” by Father John Misty
“La Llorona” by Sofia Rei
“When I’m Small” by Phantogram
“Sorcerer” by Junction
“The Battle of Evermore” by Led Zeppelin
“Tam Lin” by Fairport Convention
“Bye Bye Macadam” by Rone
“The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel
“Runaway” by Nice as F*#k
“Seeds” by Moses Sumney
“No Many Knows My Destiny” by Ryan Biter
“El Mayoral” by Sofia Rei
“Far From Any Road” by The Handsome Family
“How It Went Down” by Dark Dark Dark
“Man On the Moon” by Moses Sumney
You can find most of the music I’m listening to in this playlist. What music do you listen to while writing? Let me know in the comments. I’m always open to new tunes.