Tag Archives: Emylia Hall

Musical Mystery Tour

We all have that moment at one time or another when a piece of music comes on in the background and you have to stop what you’re doing and just listen. This is a regular occurrence for me on Friday afternoons as fellow Headliner Bríd launches into a rendition of an eighties classic and I stop what I’m doing and wonder why cats are fighting with dentists’ drills in the office.

But for a writer such songs can be a powerful influence on shaping their novels. So turn the volume up to eleven and find out which tracks struck a chord with our authors.


Morgan McCarthy

Several songs inspired me while I was writing The Other Half of Me. I can’t actually listen to music when I write – I just tune it out – but I did listen to songs around that time that perfectly evoked the mood I was trying to capture. There’s an immediacy in sound that gets straight to your own feelings and, accordingly, the feelings of a novel. If I had to pick one song from that time that stands out, I’d choose Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ‘Runaway’. It’s a painfully beautiful tune, the poignant notes of the piano ringing like drops of water against a crystal glass. The simple lyrics of the song: ‘I was feeling sad. Can’t help looking back. Highways flew by…’ and the subsequent refrain ‘Run, run away, no sense of time’, capture the state of mind of the hero of my book, Jonathan; both the song and his narrative suffused with a sense of absence and grief, the overwhelming wish to return to a time that is lost.


Steven Dunne

Music and musicians play a pivotal role in Deity because the novel is about the dark influences that can impose themselves on young people as they are growing up. Deity is about the self-destructive urges that attract teenagers, sometimes fatally, and the iconic figures that can induce the young to act against their own health and self-interest, even from beyond the grave.

Before being overwhelmed by the fame that led to his suicide in 1994, Kurt Cobain revitalised rock in the early nineties with his band Nirvana and the album Nevermind. Its seminal anthem Smells Like Teen Spirit is a beautiful play on words worthy of the greatest writers.

Equally, the beautiful Jim Morrison of sixties band The Doors, who died aged 27 in Paris in 1971, was more than just an iconic and charismatic singer. He was a poet who liked to explore the dark side of the happy clappy decade of sixties free love in songs like ‘Riders On the Storm’. His extraordinary and hallucinatory lyrics, influenced by his extensive drug use, would grace any anthology.

Morrissey from The Smiths is another who is more than just a musician. He was a thorn in the side of Thatcherite Britain in the 1980s, vilified by his detractors for tackling taboo issues in his songs, yet worshipped by his fans for the same reason. ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ is not just one of the greatest love songs ever written, it is a homage to the death-wish anxiety of troubled youth, seeking acceptance and emotional comfort. Love or death – no compromise.


Emylia Hall

 I love listening to music as I write, although I’m constantly fiddling with the volume so that my imagination feeds off the sound but the lyrics don’t interrupt my thought patterns. I played a lot of Beth Orton throughout the writing of The Book of Summers, and ‘Sweetest Decline’ hits all the right notes – it’s beautiful and melancholic, and the lyrics weave perfectly with the story I’ve written… listen and you’ll see what I mean.

The other song I must mention is ‘Here Comes The Sun’, specifically a version I came across on You Tube, where Paul Simon sings with Crosby and Nash as backing. They’re old boys up on stage, grey haired and soulful, and this makes it David Lowe’s song. When they sing ‘Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter/ Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here/ Here comes the sun/ Here comes the sun, and I say/ It’s all right’ I think of Erzsi and her father in their Devon cottage, all of the good intentions and the sadness of things not said. Tears every time!


Posted by Richard Roper, Editorial

@richardroper @EmyliaHall @ReaperSteven @MorganMcAuthor 

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Location Blues

So, it’s raining, there are flood warnings, and there’s also a drought warning. And people think I’m contrary? Anyway, to cut a long thought short, it’s got me mulling over where I want to be right now, instead of sitting at my desk staring out at a violet and charcoal bulge of cloud looming in from the west, ready to burst over the Euston Rd.

I’ve always loved books that transport me to places: the fecund, tropical island of Dominica in Jean Rhys’s THE WIDE SARGASSO SEA, the vast white space of snow and ice in Jenny Diski’s SKATING TO ANTARTICA, the spice infused smells and sounds of fans whirring in the India of Paul Scott’s THE RAJ QUARTET or the sweltering heat of that infamous Long Island summer sojourn in F Scott Fitzgerald’s THE GREAT GATSBY.Of the books that we publish here at Headline, there are many that will carry you gently to another place, and Andrea Levy’s SMALL ISLAND bundles both the sun-drenched Caribbean and grimy 1950s London in one volume.  This year, we’ve had Eowyn Ivey taking us to a magical Alaskan landscape in THE SNOW CHILD, Roopa Farooki jet-hopping from Lahore, Hong Kong, Paris and Biarritz in THE FLYING MAN, Emylia Hall returning to an idyllic Hungarian summer in THE BOOK OF SUMMERS and Victoria Hislop luring us to the hidden backstreets ofT hessaloniki in THE THREAD. Forthcoming, let me tempt you with the vast plains of the Karoo desert in Barbara Mutch’s THE HOUSEMAID’S DAUGHTER, the secrets hiding in the beautiful yet forbidding hills of the Appalachians in Julia Keller’s A KILLING IN THE HILLS or a delicious campari and lemon infused Sicilian escape in Nicola Doherty’s THE OUT OF OFFICE GIRL.

That’s enough, I’m feeling refreshed. Back to the desk. Work to be done. But before I go, let me invite you to post or comment with your favourite book locations…

Nicola Doherty takes us to Italy's sun-drenched, seductive Sicily in THE OUT OF OFFICE GIRL







Posted by Imogen Taylor, Editorial

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My First Headline Conference

This year, Headline’s annual sales conference was held at 195 Piccadilly, the venue which hosts the BAFTAs. Therefore, the stage was set for a night of glamour, cocktails and emotional speeches. Whilst backless sequinned dresses were thin on the ground, and the speeches were about the world of publishing rather than teary acceptances of awards, there was nevertheless a strong sense of glamour and excitement as the entire Headline staff donned their gladrags and mingled with authors and retailers alike. As a relative newcomer to the Headline fold (new enough for this conference to be my first), I tried to maintain a nonchalant air of cool as if I’d been to  a million conferences before (this cool was later punctured by involuntary squealing on my part when the canapés were handed round – ‘mini burgers!’ – ‘mini fish and chips!’ – ‘mini macaroons!’ etc).

After some mingling, chatting and mutual complimenting on various outfits, we were ushered upstairs for the presentation into a cinema more spacious and comfortable than many a local Odeon, with popcorn and a bottle of water to help recreate the genuine cinema experience. The presentation kicked off with a speech from our MD, Jane Morpeth, wherein she recapped Headline’s successes and bestsellers of 2011 and outlined our plans for an even bigger and better 2012. Then followed talks from several of the Headline Editorial department’s brightest and best, who delivered speeches on genres including sci-fi and fantasy, women’s fiction, crime and thriller and so on, summarising how these genres have performed over the last year, and how Headline will be doing its usual thing (sourcing new talent… publishing exciting original stories…  cornering new areas of the market… oh, you know the sort).

The speeches were followed by a mix of book trailers and video clips of Headline members of staff speaking about their favourite books. First up was crime and thriller: to my horror, I found the video clip of me speaking about Karen Rose’s NO ONE LEFT TO TELL (which is an excellent thriller, if you haven’t yet read it) was the FIRST video to be shown. Aghast, I watched as my face loomed large from the cinema screen. Unable to focus on what it was that my screen-self was saying about Karen Rose, all I could think was, ‘Is my nose really that big?!’ and ‘My God… my voice sounds like that of a nasal seven year old, and now I must NEVER SPEAK AGAIN.’ Once this horror was over and the colleague sitting next to me had kindly patted my arm to help me through the trauma, I could settle back and enjoy the range of trailers, all created by the brilliant and talented Beau Merchant from Headline’s marketing department. Amongst my favourites were the beautiful and tear-jerking trailers for THE BOOK OF SUMMERS by Emylia Hall (starring our publicity department’s very own Veronique Norton) and THE SNOW CHILD by Eowyn Ivey ; the dramatic guitar-and-drums trailer for THE 500 by Matthew Quirk which is reminiscent of the trailer for a Hollywood action film; the stirring and super-atmospheric flame-doused trailer for THE GODS OF GOTHAM by Lyndsay Faye (suitably accompanied by a dramatic Irish jig) and the Gladiator-esque trailer for Simon Scarrow’s PRAETORIAN which put me in mind of Roman battles and toga-wearing men duelling to the death. Other Headline colleagues popped up on screen having been filmed in a variety of weird and wonderful locations: on a pedalo in the park (discussing THE BOOK OF SUMMERS); speaking from behind a false set of prison bars (talking about Jason Dean’s THE WRONG MAN).

Once the presentation was over, it was back to the reception room to welcome six Headline authors who were making guest appearances at the conference. These were the lovely, smiley Emylia Hall, the legendary Phil Tufnell (author of TUFFERS’ CRICKET TALES) the fabulous Baker Brothers themselves, Tom and Henry Herbert (TV chefs and authors of THE FABULOUS BAKER BROTHERS, renowned for their handy baking skills and their not-completely-hideous appearances), the whip-smart and very funny Lyndsay Faye, queen of pacy, sizzling women’s fiction Tasmina Perry (author of PRIVATE LIVES) and an author who thinks outside the box, Andrew Zolli – set to become the new Malcolm Gladwell with his big-ideas book RESILIENCE.

As the canapés were slowly whittled away and the crowd thinned out once midnight (and therefore the last tube home) had come and gone, I had the pleasure of chatting with several of our authors. To my delight, Emylia Hall gave me a hug (the highlight of my evening). Lyndsay Faye spoke engagingly and knowledgeably about anything from New York in the 1840s to the Gold Rush, and Tom Herbert of the Baker Brothers demonstrated an artistic streak (in addition to his chef-ing abilities) by drawing pictures in Sharpie pen on the arms of willing Headline staff members: (A warning: a Sharpie tattoo can take a few scrub-sessions to truly wash off. I still had the outline of my ‘bandit with woman’ tattoo just visible on my upper arm several days later…).

Tom Herbert artfully tattooing Sarah Maltby from Headline's Marketing department.

Meanwhile, his brother Henry chatted with some Headliners.

Henry Herbert with Lynsey Sutherland from Headline's Marketing department.

At last, in the wee hours of the morning, a thoroughly conferenced-out set of Headline staff and authors agreed that it had been a fantastic night, and, laden with Headline bags filled with books, headed home.


Posted by Emily Kitchin, Editorial

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