My Catchphrases

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Musical Moments: Guest Post: Catherine MacPhail: Music and Books

It is my pleasure to welcome Cathy MacPhail to Book Angel Booktopia today with a special Musical Moments Guest Post as part of the ABBA online literature festival. 

I don’t ever play music when I’m writing. I prefer silence, or the sound of traffic on the street outside, or the tide coming in on the river. But music plays in my head all the time. I was brought up on films, still love them. So I think I write my books as if they were screenplays. Think of them scene by scene, and each scene is usually accompanied by an appropriate track.

For instance, when I was writing Worse Than Boys, there is a chapter where Hannah, the main character, is so down, feels so deserted by her friends that when she opens her mother’s medicine cabinet and sees her mother’s pills, she contemplates suicide. But the thought of how her friends might react to her suicide leads her to realise that she would want to be there to see their shame, their guilt. And that is the moment she determines she is going to stay alive .She is going get them, one by one. She is going to make them sorry. And as I wrote that chapter, in my head I heard the Rocky music, soaring to a heart stopping conclusion.


The scene in Missing where Maxine brings her supposedly dead brother home, and her mother sees him at last, the son she never believed to be really dead ? That was Nessum Dorma, the saddest, yet the most uplifting music I know.


The whole of the Nemesis series was accompanied by Queen’s music from Highlander...”there can be only one!” It really got me going about this boy, with no memory and his race against time to discover the secret of his past.


However, in The Beast Within, the third book in the series, the music that played over and over in my mind, was the score from John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. In the film, something dangerous is roaming around an Arctic station. In my book the something dangerous is roaming on the moors.


In Roxy’s Baby, when Roxy is hiding in the attic, in the dark, listening to the villains searching the house for her, what else could I imagine but the score from Jaws? Music so full of suspense, immediately making you realise something bad is coming, closer and closer......

And all the way through Grass, it was that fantastic music of The Who, which introduces any of the CSI programmes! Throbbing, exciting, fast moving, just the way I wanted the book to read too!


So you see how film music and my writing seem to go hand in hand. And I never annoy the neighbours, because it’s all in my head!

Author: Cathy MacPhail
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Synopsis: From Amazon

Tense, hard-hitting stories of real life on the wrong side of the tracks, from an award-winning writer whose words sear deep into the mind. Teenage motherhood, runaway children, manipulative friends and jailed parents all appear in these penetrating and true-to-life novels, which handle their tough subjects in a sensitive yet realistic way. The tales are illuminated by difficult yet likable young protagonists, who face life's loneliest and darkest troubles on the long road to discovering who they truly are. "Young adult fiction is going from strength to strength, led by authors like Catherine MacPhail." 'The Bookseller'. This pack contains 6 paperbacks: Another Me, Bad Company, Missing, Roxy's Baby, Run Zan Run, Worse Than Boys.

Find out more about Cathy here
Join the ABBA Online Literature Festival here


  1. I LOVE the CSI theme tune! What a fantastic song. One I could listen to over and over again.

  2. I think this may be the best post ever! I love, love the selection of music she picked, fun and it seems to fit :)

    (I'm also a huge Queen fan!)

  3. It's amazing where inspiration come from


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