Writing and music go hand in hand. Author Lisa Manterfield fueled her inspiration for writing her upcoming YA novel, The Smallest Thing with an eclectic playlist of diverse songs.
Here, Lisa shares her top ten songs with Radio Head readers and the Mixtape Mayhem Playlist page. “I’m not suggesting I tend to overthink things, but it took me ages to narrow down my playlist. It could have been 100 songs long.
Several songs—Annie’s Song, California Dreamin’—made the list because they’re great to sing along to and I love to sing the harmonies (or what I think are the harmonies. I’m the best singer in my family, but that’s only because my mum and brothers couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.)
When I’m deep into a writing project and I’ve been hunched over my laptop I blow off some steam by dancing in my living room, often with my cat, if she’ll put up with it. Dancing Queen is the ultimate dance-in-your living-room song, so it had to make the list. I used to dance in high school and once played the part of Beelzebub in our interpretation of Bohemian Rhapsody, so it’s a favorite, too, although tricky for the living room. Freddie Mercury was a god and undoubtedly one of the most epic showmen of our time.
When I met my husband we discovered we’d both played trombone as teenagers. In the Mood has a really good trombone part that you can blast out (even if you’re only the third trombone.) Plus, if your conductor is cool, you can get to do trombone tricks. And continuing the theme of misguided musical aspirations, I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano, and imagined myself playing Rachmaninov, even though I can barely poke out Chopsticks.
A boy (of the special variety) introduced me to Aztec Camera and Oblivious. We had a short but sweet romance, and I developed a crush on Roddy Frame.
I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I often found myself humming Fever while writing my novel The Smallest Thing. (Find out all about The Smallest Thing.) It’s about a girl who’s trapped in her small English village after it’s quarantined for a flu outbreak. Sick, I know.
And finally, two words: John Lennon. I wish the world could have had the chance to see what he might have done had he lived. Musically, he was genius and politically, he just might have made a difference.”
In Lisa Manterfield’s book, The Smallest Thing, it’s the last summer 17-year-old Em will ever have to spend in her “idyllic” (i.e. boring) English village. Em’s plans include rebelling against her dad’s small-minded rules and sneaking as much time as possible with Ro, her bad-boy boyfriend from the neighboring village. But when the unexplained deaths of her neighbors result in a government-imposed quarantine, Em finds herself trapped inside the cordon with the parent least likely to do whatever it takes to survive.
Lisa Manterfield grew up in the north of England, but now lives in sunny Southern California. She is the author of the memoir I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood, and her work has appeared in Los Angeles Times, Saturday Evening Post, Romantic Homes, and GRIT. Despite the lure of the beach, she can usually be found hunched over her laptop working on her forthcoming YA novel The Smallest Thing.
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