Poppy Dolan shares her music playlist that gets her in the mood for writing. Everyone join in now, “Heathcliff, it’s me, Cathy, I’ve come home”…

poppydolanMusic is brilliant to get you in the mood, recall memories and emotions and generally put a spring in your step: all things you need when you’re staring at a laptop screen, trying to pull realistic characters and feelings out of thin air.

I thought I’d share my current writing soundtrack as it’s helping me write up a storm at the moment:

Anything late 90s: All Saints, Alanis Morrisette, Sleeper. I’m writing a novella at the moment that harks back to the time when I was a sulking teenager. So the music I pick is reflecting this: angry, impassioned, a bit edgy but mostly quite pop! I used to heart Louise Nerding’s hair big time but was never brave enough to try it myself, which just led to more angst. I’ve also been rewatching My So Called Life which is utter heaven. The baggy jumpers! The ugly crying! The crimped hair! God bless the 90s.

Paloma Faith: I love any song that tells a story and Paloma’s do that every time, and with so much feeling – she is one talented lady. I love, for example, how in her song ‘New York’ she makes it sound like the city is another woman who’s stolen her man, with all her glamorous charms. Her cover of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ goes on repeat quite a bit too, it’s spellbinding. I love her storytelling skills and how she can tell a whole beginning, middle and end in just one song. If she can do that, I should be able to over 90,000 words.

Bruno Mars: Another amazingly talented songwriter, I always get a Bruno Mars album playing when I have a bit relationship scene to write – either someone breaking up, making up or simply making out. He does heartfelt stuff so well, as well as being bouncy and fun. ‘Marry You’ and ‘Grenade’ are some of my faves. I’m probably at least 15 years older than his usual audience but as I’m warbling away to his music while I write in the shed, it doesn’t really matter.

Greatest Hits of Queen: When I need to write something quirky, funny or just straight-out silly, I go to the Almighty Queen. If it’s been a long day at work or I feel a bit grotty and can’t find the com to go with my rom, I just get ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ ready to go and the world goes instantly multicolour. If you don’t smile when ‘Bicycle’ comes on, or you don’t air guitar to ‘Killer Queen’ then you need your pulse measured because you might be dead. It is like pouring sherbet into your brain – a big rush of fun and fizzy energy.

Kate Bush, ‘Wuthering Heights’: If I hit the dreaded writers’ block and every word I type is dull and tired and a dead end, I step away from the desk. I stretch my arms over my head, I take a crouched-leg position. Then, as ‘Wuthering Heights’ starts to play, I go nuts with the Bush-inspired dance moves. I sway and leap and generally shake what I’ve got while pulling odd, open-mouthed expressions. If that hasn’t shaken up the brain cells enough to get over this hump, then it’s time for a G&T.

There's More to Life Than Cupcakes by Poppy Dolan COVER (800) (1)Ellie Redford has a husband, a job and a home. According to the rest of the world, it’s baby o’clock already. Shame life doesn’t come with a recipe… Ellie knows that starting a family with lovely husband Pete would be an amazing adventure. Pete would make a brilliant dad and she’d have an excuse to eat shed loads of Cherry Bakewell. But Ellie’s bestie would rather she was up at 3am with a bottle of Malibu, not formula. And with redundancies looming, Ellie’s boss isn’t exactly going to throw her a shower if she disappears for a year, with pay.Ellie juggles her feelings (and everyone else’s) as competently as a drunken clown, she finds herself signing up for a baking class, alongside the young, free and sizzling hot Joe. As they work buns and shape tarts, is there more to their friendship than a shared appreciation of Paul Hollywood? Ellie’s soufflés may be rising, but her personal life is one big soggy mess. If she doesn’t make a decision soon, she may just lose everything that matters to her. Maybe it’s time to take off the pinny and face up to the truth: there’s more to life than cupcakes…


Poppy Dolan is a rom com aficiando. After watching When Harry Met Sally at the impressionable age of 14, she’s never stopped dreaming of having the perfect ‘meet-cute’, that one-liner that steals your heart and the grand romantic gesture to end all grand romantic gestures. Since her real-life dating experiences were more often situated at Nando’s than the top of the Eiffel Tower, she turned to fiction and wrote romantic comedies of her own. When she’s not glued to her laptop, Poppy loves cooking, reading and getting emotional over reality TV. She is in her early thirties and lives just outside London with her husband. She writes in a coffee shop nicknamed Terence and also – when it’s not too chilly – in the shed.

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