Good Writing Needs a Great Soundtrack – Guest Blogger Nick Kelly

Nick Kelly is my eighth guest blogger from Write by the Rails – the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club‘s Endless Blog Tour 2014.  In the coming weeks, you will find here posts from seven additional guests. 

Good Writing Needs a Great Soundtrack

Catwalk_messiah_coverart_smallI’ve been told that my writing is very visual and experiential. Go figure. My lead sci-fi character was first released in comic books, and his whole environment is a future, failed version of Los Angeles that is constantly burning. My lead urban fantasy character swills black coffee and cranks classic rock. The point is that I want readers to feel like they’re riding shotgun when my guy decides to take on the bad guys and crack the case.

Writers have different feelings about their environment and what is or isn’t conducive to getting quality writing time in. One simple thing I love, and almost need, is music while I write. Not just any music, but music that fits the story I’m writing and the characters involved. Most of the time I prefer instrumentals, but I’m not averse to vocals if the lyrics and melody fit the mood, too. (I’ll explain one time that this backfired in a moment.)

Here are three quick examples of what I enjoy listening to when I write. For the first, let’s take a look at my first cyberpunk book, “Catwalk: Messiah” which was released in July 2013. This was one of the longest works in progress I’ve ever had, but the soundtrack to which I’d write didn’t change all that much over time. I chose futuristic music that featured a lot of electronics, but also really heavy guitar riffs. Some of my favorite artists to listen to while I shared time with Cat and his allies are the same ones who make you drive too fast, or get the most out of a workout. These include Celldweller, Blue Stahli, Paul Leonard-Morgan’s soundtrack to the film “Dredd”, Zeromancer, Project 86, and The Prodigy.

The second example is Detective Ryan Calder, my half of the lead couple in “Ichi”, Book One of the Urban Samurai series. Stacia Kelly writes Shia Ronin, the 1,000 year old samurai who fights the things that go bump in the night. Ryan is an analytical homicide detective who doesn’t believe in any of it until he starts seeing the demons for himself. Ryan’s only real friend is his 2015 Chevy Impala, where he spends hours on stakeouts and chasing down leads, cranking classic rock the whole time. Some easy examples include The Eagles, Boston, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, and Joe Cocker – who plays a very special role in the book.

My third example is one where music totally backfired on me. I was writing a paper for school, and to help me mellow out, I created a Mozart playlist on iTunes and started researching. About 30 minutes into it, one of the piano concertos faded out and I had a few moments of silence. Then…BAM! In comes the wall of voices that is Requiem. I swear I jumped up out of my seat and chucked my headphones across the office. When I finally got my heart to stop pounding like a Skrillex bass beat, I made certain to double check my playlists.

Do you have a favorite genre or artist when you’re writing? Does it change depending on what you write? I’d love to hear what fills your ears.

All the best,

 Nick Kelly is a musician, professional speaker, and an author. His works include the cyberpunk/sci-fi novel, “Catwalk: Messiah” (Book One in the Leon “Catwalk” Caliber series), and “Ichi” (Book One of the Urban Samurai series). Both are available on Amazon.


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