What are your earliest musical memories?
I was brought up listening to two kinds of music: classical and swing. My father is a true enthusiast for music and took me and my sister to concerts from an early age. He likes to put the radio on and guess what composer is being played – or if that’s too easy, which recording it is. I think it grieved him enormously when we were old enough to demand pop music in the car, but he put up with it.
Who or what were your musical influences growing up and why?
I could probably sing any pop hit from 1980 to 2000. I didn’t really follow one band or style of music; I liked everything. I was slightly hampered by a complete inability to dance but I could sing along.
Does music influence your writing?
I like to try to make my writing as effective and evocative as music. Crime novels are literally about life and death – I want to make the readers’ hearts beat faster because they are scared or intent on the hunt for a killer or because two characters are falling for each other. Music can make you feel a certain way just by listening to it; I strive for the same effect.
Do you listen to music while writing, editing, etc.?
I always listen to music. I think it helps to set the mood for me as well as blocking out other distractions. It heads off boredom or losing concentration. I can take a short break to listen to the music instead of going on the internet or going off to make a cup of tea and never getting back to it. When the writing is going well I don’t even hear the music, though.
Is there one particular novel or piece of writing you wrote that was directly influenced by a piece of music?
I always have a playlist for every book (sometimes for individual characters), so in a sense all of them are directly influenced by music. But I’ve never yet written a scene or a story because of a specific song. I did listen to Michael Kiwanuka’s sublime Love and Hate when writing a difficult scene in Let the Dead Speak, my most recent Maeve Kerrigan novel.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
The new Aimee Mann album, Mental Illness. She just gets better and better. I’ve been a fan of hers since I saw Magnolia seventeen years ago. It was a great film but her music elevated it.
Musically, what’s your guilty pleasure (or is there such a thing)?
I have a not-so-secret love for extremely emo music. My husband says I have the musical tastes of a fourteen-year-old boy and he’s probably right. I also love inane pop music. I have no shame.
Jane’s latest novel, ‘Let The Dead Speak’ is on sale now.