There always is; and it’s usually a soundtrack for whatever story I’m currently working on, although it isn’t always the song you might expect. (The theme song for my first novel, Thank You For The Music, was actually Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts; but writers are funny like that. It’s a badge of honour to avoid the obvious.)
I’m a bit more on track with the song for my most recently-published work, No Time Like Now — Coldplay’s The Scientist. The song came out in 2002 and has been there or thereabouts in my head for years. It’s always the same. I have an idea for a story and then, halfway through the plot a well-known song appears in my head and I hear it differently.
So it was that one day last year, just as I was sitting down to write up the detailed synopsis I’d plotted out, Chris Martin suddenly spoke to me from the muzack of an iPod on shuffle. I’d love to be able to tell you what the particular lines were but, copyright law being what it is, I can’t. But I can say that in one verse the singer is struggling with the difficulties of science and finding that they are less of a problem for him than his emotions.
So it is in No Time Like Now. Tim, our hero, with his careful, calculating scientific mind, is driven by the available evidence. But our heroine is a woman of feeling, someone who doesn’t have a scientist’s obsession with fact.
Somewhere I suppose there’s a song for her; and indeed the novel is much more her story than his, though it’s his intransigence that drives him. He knows it, too.
“He managed a wry smile. ‘Hindsight’s a great thing, isn’t it? Yes, perhaps I should have walked away from it. But I’m not like that, Megan. I’m a scientist. It isn’t enough for me to know that things happen — I have to know why they happen. I have to understand how things work, what went right or wrong. That’s what drives me.’”
Poor man – he soon learns that real life doesn’t work like that. It’s Megan’s story but it’s his dilemma. That’s why the song for the story is the song of his soul. And why he has a lot to learn.
The hands flew on, illustrating the anomalously rapid growth of some ancient carbonate platform. It was unfortunate that I happened to be passing by with a stacked pile of crockery just as his left arm swung wide to indicate some particular concept, and I wasn’t quite quick enough to dodge out of the way. The mug on the top toppled and fell. Tim, swinging round to see what he’d just hit, barged into me and sent the whole lot flying.
‘Oops!’ said the undergraduate artlessly, and bent down to start picking things up.
‘Oh, damn!’ Everyone had stopped and was looking at us.
Domenica’s voice, instantly in charge, broke from the kitchen. ‘Cat, we need a cloth!’ Cat replied with her automatic response, ‘Just coming!’ And Neil, Tim and I joined the undergrad on the floor, scrabbling around for slivers of smashed plate.
‘Sorry,’ said Tim, dropping to his hands and knees with unwarranted cheerfulness. ‘I should have been watching what I was doing. Talking too much. Same old thing.’
At least we could keep our eyes on the floor. ‘No, it was my fault.’ It wasn’t, it was yours, you should have been looking what you did with your hands. And I don’t want your apology. At least, not for that. He had a tattoo on the inside of his left wrist; crossed geological hammers. Of course he’d changed in the four years or so since I’d last seen him, but a visible change reinforced that. The tattoo hinted at a slightly harder edge to his character, one he’d always had but had previously chosen not to show.
About No Time Like Now
Hiding away from a disastrous past, Megan McLeod is getting along nicely in her job as housekeeper at a university field centre in Majorca. But the arrival of geological researcher, Tim Stone, throws everything into disarray — because Tim was the father of the baby she lost some years before and the two of them had parted very messily indeed.
As if having Tim on the scene wasn’t bad enough, he’s there with his new partner, Holly. But when in the course of his research he comes upon something extremely nasty along the cliffs of north Majorca, he’s forced to turn to Megan for help.
About Jennifer Young
Jennifer Young is an Edinburgh-based writer, editor and copywriter. She is interested in a wide range of subjects and writing media, perhaps reflecting the fact that she has both arts and science degrees. Jennifer has been writing fiction, including romantic fiction, for a number of years with several short stories already published. No Time Like Now is her second published novel; her first novel, Thank You For The Music, is also set on the Balearic island of Majorca.
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