Undercover Soundtrack

Imagine Desert Island Discs for novels – welcome to The Undercover Soundtrack…

Imagine a novel could guest on Desert Island Discs. For those of you receiving outside the UK, Desert Island Discs is an immensely popular and long-running show on BBC Radio 4, where guests are asked to choose pieces of music that form a soundtrack to their lives.

After my recent co-post with Porter Anderson here about undercover soundtracks to our novels, I am excited to announce a series… hosting writers who use music in the creation of their work. They’ll be talking about special pieces that have guided them to a deeper understanding of a character, or have helped to populate a mysterious place, or clarified a particular, pivotal moment. Or anything else music has given their writing – I’m all ears.

And in case you’re curious, here are the Undercover Soundtracks for my own oeuvre. Find Lifeform Three here. And My Memories of a Future Life here.

27 thoughts on “Imagine Desert Island Discs for novels – welcome to The Undercover Soundtrack…

  1. This idea really grips me. A s poetic narrator my hope is to convey the experience of particular pieces in words. In ‘A Shadow in Yucatan’ I wrote a storm scene to almost ‘lift’ the storm in Beethoven’s pastoral symphony lock stock an barrel into poetic transliteration. From the responses of readers it seemed to work because it is the scene most commented on. In a current work I have done the same with the late quartets, not one in particular but the collection fragmenting under his deafness and dislocation. I am fascinated to read of others attempting it too, and the different ways they do it.

  2. That’s definitely interesting. I’ve posted a Spotify playlist for one of my books (Emerald City) and there’ll be one for the follow-up next month (West Seattle Blues). Those have a time and place where music is very much part of the story. Most of my writing is historical, however, and music would detract. But I think it definitely has its place, whether in the creation of the book or adding to its atmosphere.

  3. And, in fact, I guess I’ve taken it a step further, as I write the lyrics for a song called West Seattle Blues, which a friend of wine – a cult singer on the US West Coast – recorded, and which will be an extra in the ebook version.

  4. Hi Roz,

    I think that this is an amazing idea. I’ve just released my book ‘The Sisters’. In the novel, The Sisters were originally part of a girl band. Music is a strong theme and I literally cannot write without a music etc. I would love to take part if you had room.

  5. Hi Roz – I’d love to take part too if you have room. Both of my novels are set during WW2 and the first one (The Dynamite Room) featured two musicians as key characters. We produced a play list that we also featured in the back of the paperback with relevant quotes for each piece of music. It contained classical music that featured a lot in the novel, but also a lot of more popular music from the time (Big band, US jazz, etc.). I also tend to have a piece of music for each main character that helps me to evoke them in some way. My second novel, Devastation Road, uses music less prominently but was still vital to me in creating a good sense of the time and place (it’s set partly in Czechoslovakia – and then Germany – in 1945 so I immersed myself in traditional Czech music). If you’d be interested in me writing something for you about all of this do let me know – I can also ping over the playlist which we used for The Dynamite Room which is still live on Youtube.

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