I’m delighted today to be part of the ongoing blog tour for The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows by Marnie Riches, the third edge-of-your-seat thriller in the Georgina MacKenzie series, published by Maze and Avon at Harper Collins for Kindle on 31st March. It’s already gathered some wonderful reviews – have a look at some of the other tour stops – and I hope to follow through with mine within the next few weeks. Until then, I have a really excellent guest post from Marnie, on George & Van den Bergen’s Desert Island Discs – a soundtrack to The Girl Who…
Over to you Marnie!
Music is such an important part of writing for me. Not because I listen to music while I write. I don’t. I prefer to sit in silence, else my concentration span is that of a goldfish and I could easily have written 100K+ words of “Hello, what’s your name? Nice bowl!” or whatever it is goldfish think, instead of penning twisty international crime-thrillers. But it’s those in-between moments, when I’m brewing the story that my playlist evolves.
I think about what I’m going to write while I’m in the car, while I’m out walking or running, while I’m ironing, while I’m making dinner. You have to bake the disparate ingredients of a story into a whole and music often acts as a good binding agent. Sometimes, the music that I have playing on my own stereo will conjure up a particular mood – anger, heartbreak, happiness or lust. Sometimes, I decide that my characters will be listening to particular tracks on their own stereos. If you’ve got eclectic taste in and wide-ranging knowledge of the same sort of music as me, you’ll pick up a fragment of a song title or words that are reminiscent of a lyric in amongst my writing! See if you can find them.
But this post is about George and Van den Bergen’s favourite music…
George is a classic Motown fan. Though she is young in The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die, I wanted to give her taste that befits a character who is mature beyond her tender years. So, it seemed only right that when she thinks of Ad in The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die, her soundtrack is Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin. The ring tone on her phone is Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag by James Brown because, let’s face it, everybody loves the Godfather of Soul. The book ends with a sentence that is reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield’s classic, Move on Up. There is great hope in his lyrics, tempered with a little pragmatism and cynicism – perfect for a girl who has infectious optimism running through her veins, despite the fact that she has experienced first-hand how unbearable life can be at times.
In The Girl Who Broke the Rules, Ad complains that George listens to Dubstep and Grime. I didn’t specify which particular tracks she was listening to, but at the time when I wrote the manuscript, I was listening to the Dizzie Rascal & Calvin Harris track, Here to China a lot and a Dubstep compilation CD was constantly on in the car! I think George would have thought me terribly naff and out of date because I am, after all, a middle aged woman. But maybe she would have approved…
Van den Bergen, on the other hand, is closer to me in age. He’s a child of the grunge era and listens to what George terms, “angry white boy music”, such as Nirvana & The Smashing Pumpkins. What’s not to love about Van den Bergen’s choice of Territorial Pissings, belting out on his allotment stereo or Love by the Smashing Pumpkins buzzing in his Mercedes? That music has tremendous energy to it as well as an innate anger. And though I think I may have cut the scene, he was at one time listening to Radiohead’s Pyramid Song. Perfect tunes for a one-time art student who remains terribly introspective and unhappy even as a middle aged, successful Chief Inspector. Other Radiohead tracks that I had playing regularly during the writing of The Girl books were All I Need and Videotape from their In Rainbows album. They evoked perfectly the angst-ridden love between George and Van den Bergen and also the melancholy feel that runs through the series.
In addition to George and Van den Bergen’s favourite tunes, it seemed just right that Letitia loves reggae – Desmond Dekker in particular (I adore The Israelites) and Carleen Anderson (who doesn’t love a bit of Acid Jazz?) Aunty Sharon, on the other hand, is keen on 1980s funk and soul, so she would prefer Luther Vandross!
Because several of my main characters are Black, it was important to me to ensure their taste in music was true to their cultural experience, without sliding into stereotype. I hope I’ve avoided those. It helps that my own taste is really eclectic, having been a dedicated attendee at Manchester’s Hacienda (home of all good house), a devoted Motown lover, a hip-hop keenie-beanie as well as Indie-band has-been (yes, I played guitar and sang in an Indie band. We weren’t dreadful, either).
When you read The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows, why don’t you see how many musical references you can spot? Or perhaps think up your own soundtrack and tweet me with it @Marnie_Riches!
(I really enjoyed listening to that soundtrack too – I’ve added some YouTube links for you!)
Synopsis of The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows
Europe is in the grip of an extreme Arctic blast and at the mercy of a killer, who leaves no trace. His weapons of choice are razor-sharp icicles. This is Jack Frost.
Now a fully qualified criminologist, Georgina McKenzie is called upon by the Dutch police to profile this cunning and brutal murderer. Are they looking for a hit man or a frenzied serial-killer? Could there be a link to a cold missing persons’ case that George had worked with Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen – two abducted toddlers he could never quite give up on?
The hunt for Jack Frost sparks a dangerous, heart-rending journey through the toughest neighbourhoods in Europe, where refugees and Roma gypsies scratch a living on the edge of society. Walking into the dark, violent world of a trans-national trafficking ring, can George outrun death to shed light on two terrible mysteries?
About Marnie Riches
Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in Manchester. She learned her way out of the ghetto, all the way to Cambridge University, where she gained a Masters degree in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist, a property developer and professional fundraiser. Previously a children’s author, now, she writes crime and contemporary women’s fiction.
In her spare time, Marnie likes to run (more of a long distance shuffle, really) travel, drink and eat all the things (especially if combined with travel) paint portraits, sniff expensive leather shoes (what woman doesn’t?) and renovate old houses. She also adores flowers.
Marnie has an excellent website: you can follow her on Twitter or through her Facebook author page.