I’ll admit right now that I’m pretty sentimental when it comes to holiday music. Once December comes, I like to string up lights, grab some eggnog, and revisit my favorite Christmas songs from when I was a kid. The other day I teed up Elvis Christmas while I was diving into a fight scene with Mitch and the boys. I fidgeted for a few hours and never could get it going.
Mitch seemed kind of ambivalent, and the scene just didn’t pop. Soon, I realized why I hadn’t been able to get into the groove. Kicking butt to The King crooning Silent Night was too much to ask, even of Mitch Rapp. After switching to some screaming guitars and pounding drums, things got back on track.
Music Influences My Writing In Many Ways
It provides energy, melancholy, rage—whatever a given scene requires. In fact, it’s been the backdrop of my life since I was in early high school.
While I usually listen to adrenaline-pumping songs when my characters are interrogating, dodging bullets, and fighting for their lives, I’ve only ever written one scene that was actually choreographed to a song—PJ Harvey’s Rub ‘Til It Bleeds. The scene from Fade is a fight in a nightclub, and I imagined the fictional band on stage playing that song as I wrote. For some reason, the cadence of the fight came to match the ebb and flow of the song. If you’re ever paging through that book and get to the scene, put PJ’s song on as you read. You’ll be able to hear the parallels.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve discovered alternative music from small radio stations and obsessive music fans. These days, the Internet has replaced the practice of trading cassette tapes with people of a like mind. Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll ever outgrow my passion for this kind of music. Or if I’m going to be a 90-year-old guy creeping down the highway listening to Norwegian punk.
Finally, for all you thriller writers looking for inspiration to write a bloody action sequence, here’s my go-to playlist. Be warned: Headphones only. And you’ll probably need some counseling afterward…
1. Under the Floorboard World: Queen Adreena
2. I, Zombie: White Zombie
3. Dead Cities: The Exploited
4. City Baby Attacked By Rats: GBH
5. Bleed For Me: Dead Kennedys
6. After the Flesh: My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult
7. The Wait: Killing Joke
8. Stigmata: Ministry
9. Hey: Slaves
10. Preacher: Fuzz