Tag Archives: morgan mccarthy

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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Staff Hot Picks for 2012

The fairy lights have been packed away, it’s relentlessly gloomy outside, your rail ticket has gone up, there’s still Christmas cheese in the fridge. As months go, January isn’t the best. Perhaps that’s why we spend most of it looking forward – for it’s the month, is it not, where we peer into the year ahead and contemplate what it has in store for us.

Here at Headline we’re hugely cheered by the fact that we will be publishing some seriously brilliant books in 2012. We like to think this is true of every year, but it feels like we have a particularly fine crop this time round. So, as we half-heartedly sip on our miso soup and resign ourselves to the fact that post-Christmas TV schedules are truly woeful, it’s heartening to remind ourselves of what we have coming up to get us jiggling with excitement again.

In the interests of appetite-whetting, we thought we’d ask a few Headline staff to tell us about some of the books we’ll be publishing in the forthcoming months that are already getting them all hot and bothered. Here’s what they said:

PURE, Julianna Baggott (February)
I can’t wait for Pure to come out this February so I can finally get to see what everyone makes of it. What struck me about this brilliant novel was the breadth of themes it covers. This is a tale about a dystopian future that draws on past tragedy, a satire on technology and freedom of speech, a coming-of-age story – all delivered at the pace of a thriller. Pressia and Partridge are two very intriguing protagonists, divided by the formidable dome that separates the pure from the unpure, and as their stories collide and intertwine in their quest for the truth you’ll find yourself as battered and bruised as they are by the end. Thrilling.
Richard Roper, Editorial

This is a tense and unsettling story of one girl, Emily Koll, and the heinous circumstances that have led to her imprisonment in the psychiatric ward of a young offenders institute. Emily totally makes the book for me. She is a deeply fascinating and disturbing character, consumed by an unapologetic obsession with revenge; revenge for a crime that has shattered her family, her identity and most tragically her future. Her obsession ploughs through the lives and loves of others as well as her own, destroying everything in its path, and as the reader you’re left dragging along in its wake. I absolutely loved it!
Lynsey Sutherland, Marketing

THE OTHER HALF OF ME, Morgan McCarthy (May)
Half the joy of reading surely comes from being able to talk about a book you love. I think that’s why I’m champing at the bit for the publication of Morgan McCarthy’s  magical The Other Half of Me. From the very first page, Morgan deftly locks the reader into the world of brother and sister, Jonathan and Theo. Their carefree childhood comes to an end when their wealthy grandmother, Eve, starts to take an unprecedented interest in the children’s wellbeing. As they grow older, cracks begin to appear in Eve’s veneer and the stories she tells, and Jonathan and Theo’s relationship is tested as dark family secrets unfold. Morgan McCarthy’s melodic and witty prose is truly unique. She encapsulates the preciousness of sibling relationships and the heartache of adolescence as the naivety of youth ebbs and adult responsibilities take hold. Have the hankies at the ready – for both tears of laughter and sadness.
Vero Norton, Publicity

A KILLING IN THE HILLS, Julia Keller (September)
I finished this last night and thought it was brilliant. A thriller set in deepest America, it’s certainly no postcard for Ackers Gap, West Virginia, but I found myself totally sucked into this bleak and poverty stricken town and eager to read more about the steely protagonist Belfa Elkins – she is a total heroine for the hillbilly underbelly.
Frances Doyle, Sales

JEFFANORY, Jeff Stelling (April)
It’s hard to imagine a Saturday afternoon of football, anymore, without thinking of one man – Jeff Stelling. Whether you support Barnet or Barcelona, Jeff and the boys on Soccer Saturday have created a 3-hour window during which football fans all over the country are gripped and should, under no circumstances, be disturbed. Jeff’s book, Jeffanory, is full of new hilarious stories, memories of classic matches, the agony and the ecstasy and of course the banter, that we witness on Soccer Saturday each weekend. It’s the perfect way to get through the long weeks that divide each Saturday fixture. The personal touch that Jeff adds to his anecdotes really show why he is a national hero amongst all football fans, and why all fans should look no further than this for their footballing fix.
Anthony Simnica, Production

CIRCLE OF SHADOWS, Imogen Robertson (April) and WHATEVER IT TAKES, Adele Parks (June)
It was too hard to pick just one 2012 title, I have far too many favourites, so instead I have cheekily gone for two. Circle of Shadows by Imogen Robertson has to be one of my picks. I love Imogen’s writing, it is packed full of historical references, amazing characters that pop up out of the book and page-turning plots that get more and more interesting as the story develops. And then there’s Whatever it Takes by Adele Parks, which is one of the most addictive books I have read since joining Headline. The relationship between the two women, Eloise and Sara, is absolutely brilliant, with the added complication of men making this a refreshing, shocking and unputdownable read.
Holly McCulloch, Editorial

And there you have it, a mere taste of what’s in store for us in 2012. There’s much more where that came from, so be sure to keep a beady eye on this blog over the coming months for more gems.

Posted by Leah Woodburn, Editorial

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