My ideas arrive unsummoned… a scent in the air might spark a memory of some childhood moment, or a dream prompts a hurried scrawl on a notepad upon waking. I’ve been known to stop in the middle of a supermarket and tap a phrase into my phone, then finish the shopping in a daze of musings.
I am sensitive to atmosphere and emotions, so it is no surprise that music and songs contribute to my creative process. The way that a song evokes feelings surely is a kind of magic. No two people will respond the same way, yet the notes are identical and the words don’t change.
Many years ago, two incredible songs haunted me. They played with my mind, filling it with visions. From one, I saw a windswept beach where a young man pledged to wait for his true love, no matter where she went in the world. From the other, powerful images of the same man, much older, with only his memories and oil paints.
When I began writing The Stationmaster’s Cottage, I had those scenes imprinted in my head, along with that of the real cottage nearby, memories of drizzly grey graveyards overlooking wild seas, and the need to include a dog just as my favourite childhood books had.
It was a stop-start process and I put the novel away for years. When I returned, it demanded more clarity and mood. I added Love’s Divine by Seal and most of Coldplay’s Ghost Stories, an album which I recently discovered was themed similarly to Cottage.
Would I have written The Stationmaster’s Cottage without those songs? Yes. It isn’t as simple as relying on any one thing. But I believe it is so beautiful in its connection to its surroundings and so compelling in its narrative, because those songs exist.
One day, I’d love to tell their creators and performers how much they’ve given me. Until then, I hope you will click the links and enjoy the music.