Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

The Soundtrack to My Novel


I have been having a fabulous time of late, plotting the narrative of my novel, with the help of my stupendous writing group of two! If these two were bloggers, I could link to them, so you could go and give them some bloggerly love. They have been working far beyond the call of duty, given that one has a very responsible job and the other is writing a PhD, responding to my mails with brilliant ideas and warm strokes.

I’m also frantically trying to meet a work deadline, so most of my creative writing is being done very late at night. At midnight, in the bathroom, with the laptop. Anyway, the early part of the story is set in the late 80s and early 90s, so I have been steeping myself in the music of that time.

Hands up who misses REM? I do. My lovely husband and I once made a pilgrimage to Athens, Georgia, to try and sniff out Michael Stipes, but I believe he’s moved to New York or somewhere a bit more cosmopolitan. Also, our two babies and their grandmother weren’t too keen to hang out in student dives inhaling the very air he once breathed. Funny that. Here’s a little something from YouTube to make you sniff nostalgically (and if you are too young to remember or care, I’m sorry, I am really really sorry for you).

Warning: Could Result in Silly Dancing!

Also, since it’s set largely in South Africa, I’ve been listening to Zulu music. If you have some time, this is a brilliant documentary from Afropop Worldwide, with excellent commentary and great music.

I had no idea writing a novel could be this much fun.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

20 thoughts on “The Soundtrack to My Novel

  1. Yay, I get to brag. One of my best friend’s brothers went to school with the drummer and bassist for REM. On the day after my graduation from high school I got to go backstage and meet them all. They were very aloof and I wouldn’t have expected anything less, they are, after all, rock stars. I think I’m still a little star-struck.

    Remember Johnny Clegg? I think I’ll Youtube him when I get home.

  2. (Both hands up!) I miss REM, early U2, UB40, Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Talking Heads, and all the other music that is either quaint or embarassing now!

    I might have to visit iTunes in a minute.

  3. You know I live in Athens Georgia, right? I’ve never seen him though although I have eaten at Weaver D’s which is the inspiration for the cd title “Automatic for the People”.

  4. Ian, that is brag-worthy. Johnny Clegg is great. I went to a few of his concerts when I was a student. What he did to challenge the apartheid concept of music was amazing: the state wanted people to make and listen to music in their own language (Zulu music for the Zulus, Xhosa music for the Xhosas, English music for the English) and he came along and started singing in Zulu and English. At the time, it was pretty radical.

    Henitserk, I don’t care if it’s quaint or embarrassing. Would you add Tears for Fears to that list?

    Charlotta, you are my favourite Georgia resident! To think I missed you when I visited, back in 2003.

  5. I absolutely love REM (and Depeche Mode and Talking Heads!) and this is a wonderful song. Haven’t heard it for ages.

    Looks like this is going to be an interesting novel. 🙂

  6. Can we add the Pretenders to the list? I’m so impressed that you’re finding time for your novel amidst all your work writing – glad it’s turning out to be such fun too. I’m getting an image of silly dancing in the bathroom at midnight, fingers tapping on the laptop keyboard as you do.

  7. Thanks Christina. I hope you get to read it one day.

    Kit, definitely the Pretenders. And remember the Proclaimers? Weren’t they fabulous?

  8. yes! yes! proclaimers!
    listening to some of that music makes me feel uncomfortable, not because it’s embarassing but because it takes me back too far. not r.e.m., that’s too recent, but depeche mode, ub40 and eurithmics make me feel like 14, and i’m pretty sure i don’t want to feel like i’m 14 again.

  9. I would love to have seen Johnny Clegg and Juluka in concert back then.
    Can’t get more late 80’s than REM’s Green (1988) – song #7 Orange Crush can really get you moving. For your antipodean bent, how about Midnight Oil’s Earth and Sun and Moon – and Diesel and Dust albums?

  10. Ah, thanks for that, I needed a dance! 🙂
    The novel sounds great – but in the bathroom?! Good luck with it.
    Miss you! Sorry for my absence! x

  11. If I had a third hand it would be waving in the air with the two I do have. Can we add early INXS to the list?

    My turn to brag (and it’s not a huge brag) — when REM toured Australia a few years back we flew up to Sydney to see them. On the flight back to Melbourne who should stroll into the departure lounge just as our plane was about to board but Mike Mills and Peter Buck. Don’t know where Mr Stipe was but I was this (holding thumb and forefinger a millimetre apart) close to touching my favourite bassist as I sauntered down the aisle through first class into economy.

  12. Oh yes, Tears for Fears is another…I had to limit myself to not overload your comments! Just Google “80’s music” and see what you find. I guess like bine I wasn’t too sure I wanted to feel 14 again (and didn’t really want some of those songs stuck in my head while I’m trying to work!)

  13. Ooooh, my novel needs a soundtrack! Can you actually write while listening to music with words? I can’t, unless the words are in a language I don’t speak. I think, given the India connection in my novel, I need to listen to kirtan while I write!

  14. I still have my R.E.M. Green concert shirt – the one in black with the big orange moon adorning the front. Just can’t seem to part with it. Absolutely loved going to the concert, I felt so mature. Oh and let’s not forget the all night standing, sleeping, laughing in line all night for Depeche Mode tickets!! That’s right, folks – my crush on David Gahan was enormous! What about Janes Addiction and the Violent Femmes?

  15. Great music! I’ll have to add my personal fave: The Cure. I listened to Disintegration until the tape (yes, tape, want to make something of it?) wore out. And yes, Charlotte–writing a novel is a lot of fun! Oh yeah, and Peter Murphy! And XTC. And Midnight Oil. And I’d better shut up now.

  16. Love the video! I watched it at 7.30 this morning and felt the urge to do a silly dance 🙂

  17. And I DID a silly dance earlier at work, with my feet only, hidden under my desk…My personal late 80s soundtrack also features Prince, Crowded House, INXS, Roxy Music, Alison Moyet, and the reflex-flex-flex-flex…. Duran Duran… I am severely due an 80s party (an after work one for 30 or even 40 somethings? O dear…)

    Enjoy your writing – anywhere.

  18. I was once asked if I was Michael Stipe’s brother in Shakespeare’s on Broadway. I kind of last interest when …something really spooky just happened – as I type this comment on REM, a man has walked on screen, picked up a mandolin and started to strum “Losing My Religion”. Anyway, I miss Bill Berry – watching the National really reminded me how important the drummer is…

  19. Dear Wife
    You forgot to mention that your husband has been know to be called a deadringer for Michael Hutchence.
    your Husband

  20. Wow, you make novel writing seem like the most fun in the world. What have I been missing? Clearly, for the next go-round, I need a cheerier soundtrack!

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