Music to Write Horror By
Jessica B. Bell
When I write, I always have music playing, sometimes just ambient instrumental music – Brian Eno has several great soundscape albums that are great – but often I want a certain mood to write by. When I was writing a lot of the stories in Viscera I would often have these on in the background.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F#A#(Infinity) : This is an album by a Canadian band known for its long, experimental soundscapes, combining live music with soundbytes and spoken word. It’s dark and atmospheric, and is my go to when writing. If you’ve seen the brilliant film 28 Days Later, you may recognize their song East Hastings/Dead Flag Blues. It has a spoken word piece at the beginning of the song about being trapped in the belly of a machine that is bleeding to death that gives me chills:
King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King: Someone once said that this music was the sound of the apocalypse, and they might be right. The title track has been used in the dystopian film Children of Men and is instantly recognizable. If I’m ever writing something with some sort of demon or elder god in it, this is the record I put on. It’s grand and cinematic, and if you’re going to be writing something bleak, this is the track you want to be listening to.
Tom Waits – Mule Variations: When I was writing CHUK – a novel set in the Louisiana bayou – this was on my turntable nearly constantly. It’s a great album altogether, but Low Side of the Road could be the theme song for the HBO adaption of CHUK (it’ll happen, you’ll see). There’s just something about Tom Waits’ gravelly voice and Kurt Weill-esque musical sensibilities that make his music excellent for creepy writing.
Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral: Nobody does anger quite so eloquently as Trent Reznor, and if you are writing something intended to make the skin crawl – or if you’re just writing something bloody violent and angry, then you want to throw on this album, beginning to end. The industrial noises in the song Reptile sound like Godspeed’s horrible machine, bleeding to death. If they ever made a film out of my story Paraxenogenesis, this would be the soundtrack.
Sigur Rós – Ágætis Byrjun: I have no idea what this Icelandic band is singing about , but it is dark and lovely. It’s actually very soothing, and puts me in a mood to write. There’s a short story in Viscera – my new collection of strange tales, published by Sirens Call Publications (and available now) called The Queen is Dead that could definitely be read with Sigur Rós playing in the background.
Finally, Pink Floyd’s near-instrumental Careful With That Axe, Eugene was the inspiration for the story Banshee (also in Viscera). The song just sounds like a chase across barren, icy tundra. Listen to this song before (or while) you read the story, and I think you’ll see what I mean.
What music do you listen to while writing? Is it just your personal favourites, or does the music you listen to influence your writing, and if so, in what way?
Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumoured that she lives in a damp, dark basement, writing her twisted tales in her own blood on faded yellow parchment. Her stories have been published in various anthologies, the most recent of which is Voices. She also writes under the name Helena Hann-Basquiat, and has published two novels on the metafictional topic of Jessica B. Bell, titled Jessica and Singularity. A third and final novel is planned for 2017.
Find more of Jessica’s (and Helena’s) writing at whoisjessica.com
Viscera — Jessica B. Bell
Viscera is a collection of short stories full of all the things that make you squirm, cringe, and laugh when you know you shouldn’t. You’ll remember why you’re afraid of the dark and experience an abundance of weird creatures: witches, ancient gods, and all-too-human monsters – the scariest of all.
Indulge your twisted sense of humor with stories about unconventional werewolves and a woman with a frog fetish. Know what it’s like to arrive too late to save an unusual alien abductee, or giggle with sick delight as a woman serves up a special Hasenpfeffer dinner to her pig of a husband.
Settle in for bedtime stories fit for monsters.
Viscera will grab you by the gut and squeeze, making you cry for mercy—or laugh like a fiend!