A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Eating Your Headphones by Fletcher Moss

My addiction to film scores isn’t shared by many. Case in point: some drunken birthday bash I attended a few years back, at which different guests had to contribute a round of ten questions to a raucous quiz. My round – ten 30 second clips from John Williams scores to Steven Spielberg movies – goes down pretty damn badly. Everyone tanks. Beer-fuelled complaints about its esoteric weirdness are loudly directed my way.

Thing is, as I was burning the CD of clips the previous afternoon, I was thinking: It’s a bit too easy, this. I mean; the End Credits from E.T.? That’s in everyone’s DNA, right?

Wrong. Some people had no idea what the hell was going on. They threw up their hands, rolled their eyes and turned their weakening attention back to the snacks and Red Stripe. I had to apologise by the end. (Luckily – and I’m grinning with relief as I remember this – another guest’s politics round was so obscure it may as well have been delivered in Egyptian. I barracked him along with the rest. I may have been the ringleader. I recall throwing crisps as I jeered.)

Anyway – turns out only a minority do movie music like I do. And a cursory glance at my Poison Boy playlist confirms this. I spent big on it, as you can see. 40 songs at a quid a throw? That’s dedication, I reckon. I can’t listen to it now – it’s all so ‘Poison Boy’ there’d be this weird Pavlovian thing happen – characters would cross-breed and turn up in the wrong novel looking lost. Never mix your writing playlists; a new book deserves a new soundtrack.


I’m a Spotify addict now instead. As I type this, for example, I’ve stuck a single track from Michael Giacchino’s score from Super 8 into Spotify’s ‘Radio’ function, and its setting me up with an endless supply of gloomy mood-music.

That’s the thing about film scores, I reckon – it’s the emotional stuff that matters; the swelling orchestra, the chords held until they feel like they’re going to break, the minor key swoops and rumbles that accompany our protagonists agonising over difficult decisions or desperate revelations that make for the best writing soundtracks. A playlist full of tedious action-sequence drums and pomp-and-circumstance brass ‘n’ cymbals is no use at all. Imagine trying to do an hour’s writing to Raider’s March on a loop. Even the calmest most well-balanced of scribblers would end up eating their headphones.

My ‘Nightwardens’ playlist has 45 songs on it and runs for nearly three hours . Much of it is from movies I haven’t even seen, and I s’pose these’d be my last pieces of advice: (a) watch out for losing the unique genetic blueprint of your own story under someone else’s comfortingly familiar slushy strings, because (b) comfortingly familiar slushy strings make you over-write.

Oh, and last of all. Never give people a reason to mock you publically at a booze-fuelled shindig. Tempted to show up clutching a CD, silencing the happy room, and presiding over a series of tasks so impenetrable they could qualify as a labour of Hercules? Don’t guys. Just don’t.

Fletcher Moss was an Alderman of Manchester who upon his death over a century ago, bequeathed a beautiful botanical gardens to the people of the city; a noble and generous gesture. This Fletcher Moss has significantly less to recommend him – he’s an Assistant Headteacher at a school in Greater Manchester who needed a pseudonym for the writing he fits in between lesson planning, marking and rattling around the M60 in his second-hand Citroen. He lives in Manchester with his wife and young daughter. He is working on his second and third novels at the same time – surely a recipe for disaster if ever there was one.






This entry was posted on April 14, 2014 by and tagged , , , , .

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