April 9, 2010
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Jassy Mackenzie's Random Violence is a smart, fast-paced modern private detective thriller. Mackenzie offers a vivid glimpse into post-apartheid South Africa, and several converging plot twists keep the tension level high.
Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:
"The plot has more than its fair share of nice twists, and Mackenzie does a superb job of making the reader care for her gutsy lead while offering a glimpse at life in South Africa after apartheid. Readers will wish Jade a long fictional career."
I love listening to music while I write, but I never seem to get around to putting my favorite CDs in the player, so I end up turning the radio on. It's amazing how, a couple of years later, certain songs still remind me of the time when I was writing Random Violence. A song will start playing, and gooseflesh will prickle my arms as I remember exactly what I was thinking – and exactly what I was writing – when I last heard it.
My Chemical Romance – "Welcome to the Black Parade "
One of the songs that had a lot of radio play in South Africa when I was writing my novel was "Welcome to the Black Parade," by My Chemical Romance. That song resonated with me, not only because it gave me comfort while I was wrestling with plot and characters in the small hours of the morning, but because of the relevance of the lyrics. "The savior of the broken, the beaten and the damned…" That phrase got me thinking that in South Africa, where violent crime is a terrifying reality and the flying squad can take anywhere from five minutes to five hours to arrive, help often comes from the most unlikely sources.
Just Jinjer – "Father & Farther"
Random Violence is a contemporary thriller set in Johannesburg. For me, crime fiction and rock music make perfect partners, (just the same way that chick-lit and pop music do). Just Jinjer is a South African rock band that is well known in the USA today, but it was the poignant song "Father & Farther" from their debut album All Comes Round that made me fall in love with them. It could have been written for people who are trying, or failing, to make it in the hard, dangerous, and often cold world of Jo'burg, especially the lines, "But it's the father who knows that the farther they walk, The harder they try, the darker the sky becomes…."
U2 – "The Wanderer"
Jade de Jong, the heroine of Random Violence, fled the country after killing the bent cop who murdered her police commissioner father. Ten years later, Jade returns to South Africa, where she plans to take her revenge on the ex-convict whom she believes organized the crime. Jade's Jo'burg is a lonely, dangerous place. There's a song that captured my heart long before I even thought about writing a novel. I played it so many times that I sometimes wonder whether it had an influence on Jade's character. The song is "The Wanderer," from U2's Zooropa album.
Rodriguez – "Hate Street Dialogue"
I've always had a soft spot for baddies. When I was young, my favorite childhood toy was a dubious-looking hand puppet called Fobber the Robber. I never outgrew this fascination with the dark side, and for me, one of the most enjoyable parts of novel writing is immersing myself in the warped mind of the villain.
In Random Violence, Jade is up against the psychopathic Whiteboy. There's a song that I think could have been written for this character. It's by an American singer called Rodriguez, whose debut album Cold Fact achieved cult status in South Africa during apartheid, at a stage when he was literally unknown in other countries. Under that repressive regime, Cold Fact was banned from being played on radio due to the provocative lyrics – which of course meant that every right-thinking South African rushed to buy a copy of the album. The song "Hate Street Dialogue" includes the immortal line, "I've tasted hate street's hanging tree." Sing that enough times, and you may find yourself turning into a psychopath.
Jassy Mackenzie and Random Violence links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly highlights of comics & graphic novels)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly highlights of new books)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists