June 16, 2011
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Thoroughly suspenseful, Michael Robotham's novel The Wreckage is a modern thriller that deftly blends political, financial, and personal drama.
Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:
"Robotham, a former investigative journalist, weaves current events and white-knuckle suspense with a practiced hand. "
Every novel I have written has had a soundtrack of songs that have filled my iPod. Not when I'm writing, but when I'm walking along Palm Beach near my home in Sydney; or working out at the gym. This is when my 'real' writing is done. As Graham Greene said, putting words on paper is the final part of the writing process.
None of the songs on my playlist are particularly hip or edgy, although my teenage daughters have iTunes accounts and keep me up-to-date with new artists.
There is not a single song mentioned in The Wreckage but each of the characters has a soundtrack in my head, just as they have a unique voice and personality. In my previous career as a ghostwriter, I collaborated on fifteen 'autobiographies', working with politicians, pop stars, adventurers, actors, soldiers and psychologists. The magic of ghostwriting is to capture the 'voice' of each subject.
This idea of 'voice' has never left me. Even in my fiction each character lives and breathes in my imagination. When I wrote THE NIGHT FERRY, a psychological thriller narrated by a young London policewoman, my wife had to come to terms with the fact that for a year I was having an affair with another woman. We'd be out to dinner somewhere and Vivien would see my eyes glaze over. Then she'd kick me under the table and say, 'You're with her, aren't you?'
My latest, The Wreckage, is a big international conspiracy thriller set amid the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis and the War in Iraq. It features multiple storylines in Baghdad, London and Washington, which come together in a dramatic climax.
The songs I've chosen are a mixture of those that relate to particular characters in the story and others that kept me company on my long walks along the beach.
"Change" by Daniel Merriweather
The Wreckage begins with Luca Terracini, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist living 'outside the wire' in Baghdad, away from the security of the International Zone, trying to track down billions of dollars in missing reconstruction funds.
This is a song about all the change in the world and how hard it is to understand or keep up. It sums up Luca's constant challenge.
"Last Request" by Paolo Nutini
Luca's girlfriend, a restorer at the Iraqi National Library, was killed in a bombing at a Baghdad bank. He's still grieving and finds himself listening to love songs like this one – about loss and love and clinging to the wreckage.
"Bang Bang Bang" by Tracy Chapman
Luca is still following the missing money, despite being imprisoned and tortured by the Iraqi police. They're kicking him out of the country and he has to say goodbye to the local people who have kept him safe for six years.
"Choppin' Wood" by Van Morrison
The story shifts to London where retired detective Vincent Ruiz, just turned sixty, is contemplating what to do with the rest of his life. In a bar one night, he rescues a young woman, Holly Knight, from a violent boyfriend. Comforting the girl, he offers her protection, but wakes next morning to discover that his house has been robbed. The entire incident was a set-up.
"Jane S. Piddy" by Sixto Rodriguez
Ruiz has lost things that are very personal to him in the robbery and wants them back. He sets out to find Holly Knight, only to discover her boyfriend's tortured body. Clearly the couple have stolen something from powerful people who want it back very badly.
"Nobody's Perfect" by Jessie J
Holly is barely nineteen and has spent twelve of those years in and out of foster homes. Her mother was murdered and her father committed suicide, yet she managed to survive on her wits and a remarkable ability to tell when someone is lying to her.
"The Fear" by Lily Allen
Holly's boyfriend is dead and she doesn't know who to trust. Ruiz is offering to help, but how can she put her faith in someone she robbed?
"Gotta Have You" by The Weepies
Meanwhile, on the other side of London, Elizabeth North wakes and reaches across her bed to where her husband should be. Richard North, a senior banking official, has been missing for five days. Elizabeth is eight months pregnant and knows something terrible has happened.
"Someone Like You" by Adele
Ultimately, Elizabeth has to come to terms with tragedy and hold her family together for the sake of her young son and unborn child. This is a beautiful ballad about the end of a life-defining relationship.
Finally I want to mention the album that I have treasured since its release. No other music has managed to both inspire me and serenade me to sleep during my afternoon 'creative naps'.
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu is an Indigenous Australian musician, who sings in the Yolngu language. Geoffrey was born blind and speaks only a few words of English but has the most beautiful and haunting voice. I am not a religious man but he can almost make me believe in a higher power.
Michael Robotham and The Wreckage 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 comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists