Some writers listen to music when they write. Some don’t. On the scale of listens-to-music-while-writing, I fall sort of in the middle. At the beginning of a project (or when I’m trying to flesh out an idea for an essay or even a blog post), I usually need silence. I find that music drowns out my thoughts.

But when my thoughts are more concrete and when I know more or less where I’m going, I start to look for music that will match the writing that I’m doing. I look for mood in music, not lyrics. This means I usually start off listening to wordless music — a lot of electronica, actually. Massive Attack and the like.

When I first started writing Ash I listened to a lot of Celtic music. Not necessarily New Age, but sort of old sounding, if you know what I mean. Then, as the book went on, I began to look for mood in songs with words. I didn’t actually listen to the lyrics of these songs, so I was kind of surprised when I recently listened to these songs again and discovered that some of the lyrics did seem appropriate. During later drafts, I can listen to one playlist repeatedly without ever really hearing any of it; it just puts me in that writing space.

So, here’s a playlist of some of the songs I listened to during the writing of Ash. The only song that is clearly linked with a particular scene is the last one, KT Tunstall’s “Universe & U.” I’ll just say that if and when you have a copy of Ash, you could listen to that song when reading the scene that begins with the last paragraph on page 212. I actually did listen to “Universe & U” repeatedly when writing that scene.


  1. “She Moved Through the Fair” by Loreena McKennitt

  2. “Night Ride Across the Caucasus” by Loreena McKennitt

  3. “Gold Dust” by Tori Amos

  4. “Far Away” by Martha Wainwright

  5. “Silent Sea” by KT Tunstall

  6. “Let Down” by Radiohead

  7. “Factory” by Martha Wainwright

  8. “Lust” by Tori Amos

  9. “Bonfire” by Lamb

  10. “Sleep to Dream” by Fiona Apple

  11. “The Unforgettable Fire” by U2

  12. “Lay Me Down” by Supreme Beings of Leisure

  13. “Teardrop” by Massive Attack

  14. “Universe & U” by KT Tunstall