These are songs that sank so deeply into my mind when I was writing Seeker, that they became part of the fabric of the story.
What I listen to for writing isn’t necessarily what I listen to while driving in the car or what I put on while making dinner. For writing, what I listen to very specific to the mood of the piece, and the songs can be old or recent, and of lots of different genres. I pick and listen to whatever works, but songs tend to form themselves into coherent groups for each story.
So here goes:
1. Muse, SUNBURN
This song was one of the inspirations for the book, years ago. It made me see the world in which we find Quin, and it evokes the feeling of the Seeker training, and all the bad, bad things they might be capable of doing. If you haven’t read the book, I’m just saying might. Maybe they do nothing bad. Maybe it’s all rainbows and lolipops. Anything is possible.
She burns like the sun I can’t look away
She’ll burn our horizons, make no mistake
2. School of Seven Bells, SECRET DAYS
Creepy and atmospheric, this song sets the tone of the training on the estate. This one feels like the lyrics were written specifically for this story.
Those days are sweet salvation
came from the secret days
runnin’ across the green through the fence into freedom
wanted the world to show me,
it would be mine again
write me a different story
that didn’t have to end.
3. Sinead O’Connor, LAST DAY OF OUR ACQUAINTANCE
For me, this song captures the scene between John and Quin in the cliff barn. Sinead O’Connor quite simply has one of the greatest voices ever. The hurt she conveys, and also the sense of fatalism—nothing can be done to repair this break—bring me back to this song again and again.
but this is the last day of our acquaintance
I will meet you later in somebody’s office
I’ll talk but you won’t listen to me
I know your answer already
4. M83, WAIT
This song captures Quin after the end of the first part of the book. She’s taken from Scotland, she’s damaged. Maybe she reinvents herself entirely in the strange space Master Tan creates for her.
Set your dreams where nobody hides
Give your tears to the tide
There is no end, there is no goodbye
5. Young the Giant, MY BODY
Shinobu. Shinobu, Shinobu, Shinobu. Jumping off things, climbing around inside them, and sometimes swimming under them, as he explains in this exchange with Quin:
“How did you know this was here?” she asked.
“I jump off things,” he said, without turning around, “and I climb around inside them, and sometimes I swim under them. I have lots of hiding places in Hong Kong.”
My body tells me no, but I won’t quit
Cause I want more, cause I want more
6. Ed Sheeran, BLOODSTREAM
I think this song came out just at the tail end of when I was editing SEEKER. It’s very different from other songs on this list, but it makes me think of the Transit Bridge in Hong Kong, and all the bad things Shinobu does to himself there.
Fading out again
I feel the chemicals burn in my bloodstream
So tell me when it kicks in
7. Manchester Orchestra, SIMPLE MATH
I love this song. It is Quin questioning everything she has believed about her life. She took it for granted that her family, her heritage, was leading her inexorably toward an ideal future in her mind. It’s very hard to realize you have been completely wrong on a very basic level, for your whole life.
Like several songs on this playlist, it feels like the lyrics were written specifically for this story.
What if I was wrong and no one cared to mention
What if it was true and all we thought was right was wrong?
Simple math, the truth cannot be fractioned
8. Temper Trap, TREMBLING HANDS
I see Shinobu in Hong Kong, with the city spread out below him when I hear this song, and I feel that combination of nostalgia, longing and a bittersweet view of what the future will bring. The buildings of Central as so high and slender they’re like enormous stalks of metallic wheat waving gently on the hills beneath us. Now he’s stepping down into that city. He may lose himself, but what will he find?
This here city
Is for the lonely ones
Won’t find no angels
Selling maps to the lost
This here place
Is too small for two
It took one to realize
When dreaming’s this hard
It’s not meant to come true
9. Phantogram, MOUTHFUL OF DIAMONDS
I saw Phantogram open for M83 at the Hollywood Bowl in what ended up being one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. They are great! This song captures Shinobu and Quin from the moment he grabs her out of danger on the Transit Bridge to their conversation in the garden of his mother’s house. Longing and nostalgia and old arguments and also love.
You’ve got a mouthful of diamonds
And a pocketful of secrets
I know you’re never telling anyone
10. Franz Ferdinand, LUCID DREAMS
(7:55 version on album “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand”)
Quin, running for her life through the lower levels of the Transit Bridge in Hong Kong. At 2:34 the song shifts entirely into a chase sequence through drug bars, down air lifts and into the bowels of the Hong Kong Transit Bridge. At 4:44, you’re lost in strobe lights and lasers and clouds of cigarette smoke as you try to push your way through the crowds and escape before you’re grabbed. People around you are wearing a lot of glow-in-the-dark makeup. It might even be raining inside some of the clubs, which isn’t making it any easier to find your way out. And at the end, it’s just unconsciousness and heartbeat.
I woke with wings from lucid dreams
I knew the reason I felt hollow
Was that I may never know
If there is some great truth or not
11. Muse, HYSTERIA
Muse’s eerie, futuristic-descendent-of-punk mixed with huge-guitar-and-bass-rock-anthem vibe just lent itself naturally to many of the action scenes of this book. When I hear this song, I think of Quin running from John through the woods, their fight on top of the cliff barn, and also, later in the story, a terrifying jump from a very high building with Shinobu.
The bridge at 2:45 of the song is a space rock anthem that sounds like a futuristic battle for the freedom of the entire human race. It makes me want to slash out my whipsword, flick it into the shape of something really deadly and get serious.
‘Cause I want it now, I want it now
Give me your heart and your soul
I’m not breaking down, I’m breaking out
Last chance to lose control
12. The Submarines, 1940 – AMPLIVE REMIX
This is sort of montage music for the book. When I listen to it, I see all the characters merging for their final confrontation in London, diverse threads of the story snaking through though the book to tangle with each other in a situation where everything will change. It is chase and motion and the feeling of something bad just around the corner.
You couldn’t sleep for the awful fright
That kept you up in bed last night
While curious shapes shift in the dark