Those of you who have already bought Blood on the Motorway (on sale now!) may have noticed something a bit odd about the chapter titles. Or you may not have done. Who am I to tell?
When I first started writing Blood on the Motorway I didn’t really bother with chapter names. I went for good old Chapter One, Chapter Two etc. It is, after all, a tradition as old as time. I’d kind of always worked this way, as a quick look through the ghosts of stories past can attest. Thankfully (for you, dear reader) these will never see the outside of the darkened corner of my computer’s file system where I have sent them to die, but even a cursory look through them shows a historical predilection for those most boring of chapter headings.
Blood on the Motorway (did I mention it’s on sale, btw?) is a multi-narrative story, with each chapter changing perspective to a new character. When I started writing it I did consider naming each chapter after the character arc, but then I imagined that might give rise to a barrage of one star reviews on Amazon (‘Who do you think you are, George R R Chuffing Martin?’) So I decided against that. It’s something you see a lot of in fantasy books, and this isn’t fantasy at all, so I didn’t want to be misleading readers.
As I started editing the book, however, my position regarding chapter titles changed. It changed at exactly the point that I decided that Chapter Nine should be a lot earlier in the book, and moved it to Chapter Five. In Word, making that kind of a change means major manuscript heart surgery, and a high risk of fatality due to Word being completely useless, but in Scrivener (my weapon of choice when it comes to writing) it’s as easy as drag and drop. I may even have chuckled to myself at how easy it was.
Except then I realised that all my chapters now needed to be renamed, from five to nine. I know what you’re thinking – ‘How can anyone comprehend such hardship?!’ I know. It’s a hard knock life, being a writer.
My finger hovered over the mouse to make the first of these rather irritating changes when a tiny voice whispered into my ears:
‘What if you need to change it again?’
Bit weird, I think you’ll agree, but the creepy disembodied voice had a point. Having this capability in Scrivener would allow me to tweak the order of my novel to ensure the best possible read for the poor saps who would eventually be suckered into buying it, I mean, *ahem* my eventual customers wonderful people who would become my readers. But this restrictive way of numbering my chapters would probably stop me from actually doing that, lazy arse that I am. So I decided that what I really needed to do was come up with new chapter headers for the whole damn book.
‘Who do you think you are, George R R Sodding Martin?’
Ok, so not character names, so what? I pondered it for a second, then looked down at my Spotify window, where the Isis (the band not the terrorist outfit) track ‘The Beginning and the End’ was playing. Wow, I thought, what a good title for an opening chapter.
Now regular readers of mine will know that I’m a bit of a music obsessive, and the more astute of you will also have spotted that Blood on the Motorway is in fact a song title in itself, so I embarked on a mission to plunder my record collection for song titles that reflected my own tastes and the chapters themselves. When I write I have a massive playlist of stuff that becomes a kind of unofficial soundtrack to the words that go on the page, so why not make them into an actual soundtrack?
It’s a merry mess of different musical styles, but it’s also a bit of a hidden Easter egg hunt for the more musically astute readers, to try and follow the background noise that went into the creation of this book. It also reads like a who’s who of depressing song titles, which gives you an indication of what the book itself is going to be like.
So, now that the book is out, I thought I’d compile the chapter headers into a playlist, and let you, dear readers, have a listen. So consider this the 100% unofficial soundtrack to Blood on the Motorway.