All Work and No Playlist?

What helps you create? Whether it’s writing, drawing, shooting or even whittling, for so many of us, music makes the world go round. In fact, we couldn’t imagine working without it. Fascinated by how other creative souls get stuff done, we decided to unpick this causal connection by speaking to different creators about their practice, process and how music fuels their fire.

By: Clare Howdle,   3 minutes

This month it’s the turn of “dazzling new literary talent” Emma Glass, whose debut novel Peach has garnered endless praise from readers and critics alike.

If you like wry, tender, plaintive, weird and all-out gruesome writing, Peach (Bloomsbury, 2018) will have you reeling. Plus George Saunders telling the world, “her fearlessness renews one’s faith in the power of literature,” is pretty much the most compelling argument to pick up her book known to man.

So here she is telling Strike how music helps her write and sharing the playlist that’s sure to do it…

I’ll often spend hours writing out the lyrics of my favourite song and deconstructing them, pulling out words and phrases and injecting them into my work.

It’s the start of your creative working day. What do you do first?
“I have a ritual of clearing my workspace and my mind before I write. At least, I think of it as a ritual but it’s actually procrastination. I’ll clean the flat, go for a run, wash my hair, bake, set out my notebooks, choose music, make coffee, snacks, draw out my restlessness and then write. It’s not a time efficient way to be creative, but when I finally settle into writing, I have enough headspace to make strong decisions on the direction of my writing.

At what point in your day do you turn to music?
I start with music. I can’t work without it.

Where do you write?
I’m fortunate to have a little desk in my flat which I work best at, but sometimes I like the hum of other people, the noises of the city so I’ll find a coffee shop and sit and hand write notes.

How do you listen?
Headphones for when I’m in the zone, vinyl for when I want to centre myself.

Do you have different types of music you listen to, to achieve different results?
I try to match the music to the story I’m writing. Music strongly effects my mood, so I use it to put me in the mindset of my characters.

Is the music you listen to for work different from the music you listen to recreationally?
It can be, but I find that if a type of music is motivational in one part of my life, that same music will inspire me to write. I listen to a lot of hip-hop and RnB when I run and I find that the beat that drives my body forward has a similar effect on the way I put down words.

How did you listen to music when you were writing Peach?
I wrote much of Peach late at night and listened to music constantly, mostly through headphones which helped me to focus and pace the story. Themes of violence and sadness are weaved into the story so I listened to a lot of music that had heavy, driving beats and emotive lyrics.

What one song or album can you rely on to get you writing?
Kate Bush, Hounds of Love is one of my favourite albums of all time. Her vocals are dramatic and spiritual and each song is breathtaking. I’d love to write fiction that brings readers as much joy and inspiration as that record brings me.


Peach is available from all good bookshops, on and offline, from £7.99.

Emma Glass’ Playlist to Create By (and lyrics she’s fallen for)

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