” by the Shins – I had to list this one first because it’s way too lively to listen to while writing, but it’s perfect for getting pumped before a scribbling session. It’s fun and upbeat and filled with a cheeky yet genuine “follow your dreams” message.
2. “Darker” by Doves – Doves write so many textured, atmospheric songs that it would be really easy for me just to list ten more by them Their first three albums in particular have an early Coldplay vibe, and the mellow, echo-y sound makes for a great writing background–you can lose yourself in the atmosphere. “Darker” is one of my favorites. It’s all of the above with a bit of an edge. I particularly like it when I’m writing scenes with Roman, a character who fits the aesthetic of the song pretty well.
3. “Mouth’s Cradle” by Björk – Medúlla is currently one of my favorite albums for writing. It’s by turns subdued and ethereal, and because the songs aren’t built around hooks, they also fade into the background nicely. “Mouth’s Cradle” is my favorite. The chorus in the background sounds like it’s slowly building toward something grand but ominous, which is perfect for The Buried Life for reasons I can’t quite say….
4. “Rebel Prince” by Rufus Wainwright – The lyrics refer to waiting for someone, but this song always evokes a search for me. It gets me in the mindset of Inspectors Malone and Sundar, prowling for leads and plotting their next moves as the situation around them seems to grow more and more futile.
5. “Caramel” by Suzanne Vega – It’s brooding and lovely and regretful, and it’s all about forbidden desire. This song reminds me of Jane and the vulnerable position in which she finds herself.
6. “Robbery, Assault & Battery” by Genesis – Genesis is one of my dad’s favorite bands, so I heard it a lot growing up. At some point I went back to it, particularly the stuff from the Peter Gabriel and early Phil Collins eras. This song stuck out to me when I was writing the first draft of The Buried Life–it’s about this murderous, creeping burglar, and it has a very dark sense of fun. It jibes with the hunt for the elusive killer in the book.
7. “Don’t Whisper Lies” by Astaire/Blondfire – It’s downtempo and mellow, and for some reason, I start with it more than anything else when I’m firing up my writing playlist. It also refers to something uncertain and mysterious, so it evokes the characters’ situations.
8. “Vuelvo Al Sur” by Gotan Project – I started developing The Buried Life on a study trip in Argentina, so no playlist would be complete without a dash of tango! Gotan Project’s music is fusion rather than traditional tango, but it’s whimsical and romantic in a way that reminds me of Buenos Aires, nighttime streets, and the gorgeous Recoleta Cemetery, all of which provided a lot of inspiration for the book.
9. “Motiveless Crime” by South – The events of the novel are set in motion by a crime that Malone and Sundar don’t quite understand, and their search for answers becomes increasingly dangerous and complex. There’s a restless, desperate energy to this song that fits the tone of their investigation. (not on player)
10. “Spiders and Flies” by Mercury Rev – This is a lovely but bittersweet song about the unforeseen consequences of grand schemes and the inevitable tendency of time to cover all things. Many of the characters in the book have a particular fascination with (or fear of) history, and their efforts to reveal or conceal it have shaped the world they live in.