Music Listened to a Lot While Writing Liar

Micah, the first person narrator of Liar, is very explicit about music not being her thing:

I hate music. It hurts my ears, my brain. Even the membranes in my nose. Any music. All music. I can’t distinguish between hip hop and hillbilly ramblings, between symphonies and traffic noise. All of it hurts.

So it’s a bit weird given that I listened to so much music while writing Liar. I know that she would hate very single one of these, but they were essential for me to get in the right state to be able to write Micah’s voice. I needed short cuts to sadness, anger and confusion. Hence the following songs proving to be just the ticket:

Shakira “La Pared”

An obsessive love song which includes lyrics like “Sabes que sin ti/Ya yo no soy” “You know that without you/I’m not me”. Perfect.

Billie Holiday “God Bless the Child”

I’ve always thought this was the most ironically biting song of all time. Angry, sad, brilliant. Kind of like Micah.

Suzanne Vega “Blood Makes Noise”

Self-explanatory really.

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings (Original broadcast from the Albert Hall in London September 15 2001. Leonard Slatkin conducts the BBC Orchestra.)

Quite possibly the saddest piece of music of all time. If I was feeling too cheerful to write Micah I played this. Instant woe.

Danger Mouse & Jay-Z & The Beatles “99 Problems”

I just love this mash up. Micah would hate it. I mean more than she already hates most music. I cannot explain why it helped writing the book so much, but it did.


  1. Philip on #

    That’s what that was! Samuel Barber’s piece was used in Platoon and I’ve heard it other places, but I’ve never tracked down who/what exactly it was. Thanks for the serendipity.

  2. Justine on #

    Philip: No worries. Don’t listen to it too often though!

  3. cristina on #

    awesome music! Me likes!
    That Suzanne Vega video is pretty trippy :]

    have you ever listened to a song called “Mentira” by La Ley? I think it would kind of fit with the book…

  4. sonia on #

    hi Justine,
    it’s interesting to see what influences your work.
    the piece by samuel barber has always been one of my favourites. it was also used in a movie called ‘the mission’ long time ago…
    a piece of music i got recently you might like is: Symphony No. 3 by Gorecki Henryk. i heard it used in a play by Robert Lepage (a very amazing french canadian) in his most recent play Lypsink.

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