The Soundtrack to The Big Smoke by Cally Jackson

I’m honored to have Cally Jackson guest posting with me today. If you saw my book review you already know how much I enjoyed her debut novel. Today she’s sharing the music she listened to while writing this amazing coming of age tale.

Take it away Cally!

Like many authors, I often use music to help get me into the right mood when I’m writing. I used this technique frequently when writing my debut novel, The Big Smoke, which is told from the perspectives of the two main characters, Seb and Ceara. Interestingly, I could only ever listen to music where the lead singer was the same gender as the character. (Strange, I know!)

I had some favourites for both of the characters: Missy Higgins, Lisa Mitchell and Kelly Clarkson for Ceara; and Kings of Leon, Powderfinger, Ben Kweller and Bernard Fanning for Seb. I must have listened to these two songs a dozen times while writing The Big Smoke:

Apart from my regulars, there are a number of songs I listened to for certain scenes and some that are even mentioned in the story…
“Once I got a seat on the bus, I put on my headphones. I closed my eyes and started thinking about Lara while The Beatles’ I Want You bounced round my ear drums. Maybe, if I played my cards right, tonight would be the night I’d finally get laid.”

“I stopped at the little cart with the green tin roof and tried to decide if I wanted a Coke. Right then, two things happened – the song Help started playing on my Discman and this girl walked up the steps from the gardens, wearing a shirt with the Help album cover on it. I swear, the exact instant John Lennon sung the word ‘Help’ into my ear, I saw the album cover on this girl’s shirt.”

“You’re my best friend. Of course I want to know what’s going on.’
‘Why? It’s not like you can do anything. You have no idea what it’s like, throwing away your dreams for a three-year prison term.’ 
I bit my lip. ‘I’m on your side, Bek. Don’t forget that.’
‘I know. I’m sorry. Don’t listen to anything I say.’ Bek smiled feebly and turned up the radio. A Dido song was playing, its mood regretful and melancholy.

A few rain drops hit the windscreen. Before long, it began to drizzle and everything turned grey. I watched the rain drops chase each other down my window and wondered what I could say to help Bek accept her situation. Nothing came, so I stayed silent.”

Listening to these songs takes me straight back to each of the scenes they inspired. How about you? Do you use music to help get you into the right mood for the scene you’re about to write? Or do you find music too distracting? Have any particular songs or bands inspired scenes in your writing?

More About The Big Smoke

Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn’t finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane – the big smoke. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem set to collide, but they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it’s just chance.

When the semester starts, things get complicated. Ceara’s best friend withdraws from her, Seb’s closest mate turns into a sleazebag, and the relentless demands of university make their stress levels soar. Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure? And when they finally meet, will it be love at first sight or a collision of headstrong personalities?

You can purchase a copy of The Big Smoke:

  • in paperback format from Cally’s buy page (Australia and New Zealand) or Amazon (rest of the world)
  • in e-book format from Smashwords (preferred digital supplier), Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Diesel and other e-stores.

About charitybradford

Science fiction and fantasy writer and blogger. My first novel is now available--The Magic Wakes (WiDo Publishing, 2013)

Posted on November 7, 2012, in debut books, Guest Blogger, music, songs. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Thanks so much for being part of my blog tour, Charity! It's been so much fun! 🙂

  2. You're more than welcome Cally!

  3. I use music for inspiration and it's always playing when I write. Often it's not a particular song as much as the overall tone that matters.

  4. Yes, I also use songs for inspiration. But I can't listen to them WHILE I write! I just sit and chill and let the song get inside me, and then I have to turn it off (or way down) to actually write 🙂

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