Julie Shackman explains why she needs music playing in the background to write.

Writing my debut contemporary romance novel (with a paranormal twist) Rock My World has involved two things I really love – writing of course, is one and music is the other.


As you might have guessed from the title, music features heavily in Rock My World, thanks to my ghostly local rock singer Stevie Vee and my heroine, Ruby Cameron, who is a big music fan. Music plays such a big part in the lives of my characters and it always has done for me.

When the dreaded Writer’s Block (or in my case it’s often more Writer’s Tenement) is threatening to strike, I switch the radio on and songs give me inspiration.

Looking back at the 1980s as I do at the beginning of my novel, was a real nostalgia trip for me. Big hair, big attitudes and big music.

Whilst some of my contemporaries were admiring the attributes of bands like Wham! I was all doe-eyed over the likes of Lindsay Buckingham and admiring the razor-sharp cheekbones and poetic angst of Jim Morrison. That was when I wasn’t back-combing my hair to the height of Marge Simpson and puncturing a hair-spray induced hole in the ozone layer.

So, back to the present day.

The radio has to be on whilst I write or I deliberately choose a cafe that has music playing happily in the background. And there I sit, listening to beautiful lyrics or being inspired by a thudding beat.

Some of the most haunting lyrics, in my humble opinion, are produced from bands like Fleetwood Mac, Snow Patrol and singers like Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush, Thea Gilmore and Lissie.  Their words tend to stay with me and they create visual imagery which I often think, “Oh, I wish I’d come up with a line like that!”

Having a soundtrack to your novel is a good idea, I think.

But whatever your inspiration, whether it’s music or not, I hope it helps you write as much as music does for me.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 1.36.14 PMRuby Cameron is an ambitious reporter for a local paper where she is fed scraps of news, and lives with a man whose “idea of living dangerously is to leave the heating on when we pop out to the shops”. But after catching her squeaky clean boyfriend in flagrante delicto, she ups sticks and moves into her own small home, only to discover the ghostly presence of a cheeky rock star who becomes her confidant as the dynamics of her small town, and her feelings about her dashing new boss, begin to throw up more questions than she can answer. Will Ruby discover who she really is, and perhaps more importantly, who she wants to be.

Julie Shackman trained as a journalist but writing romance has always been a dream of hers. When she’s not got her head in a book or drafting one, she writes verses and captions for greetings card companies. Rock My World  is her first contemporary romance novel. Julie is married, has two sons and lives in Scotland.



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