Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen. My thanks to Sriya at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join! Author Helen Cullen visits my blog today to talk about the importance of music in her novel but first, here is what The Lost Letters of William Woolf is all about.
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Inside East London’s Dead Letters Depot, William Woolf unites lost mail with its intended recipient. White mice, a miniature grandfather clock and a full suit of armour are among the more unusual items lost then found thanks to William’s detective work.
But when he discovers a series of letters addressed only to ‘My Great Love’, everything changes. Written by Winter to a soulmate she hasn’t yet met, her heartfelt words stir William in ways he has long forgotten. Could they be destined for him? But what about his troubled marriage?
William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve the mystery of his own heart.
| GUEST POST |
The importance of music in The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen
One of the great joys of writing my debut novel, The Lost Letters of William Woolf, was undoubtedly creating the soundtrack to accompany the story. This curation of songs allowed me to indulge in the perfect intersection of my two great loves; music and literature.
It was a moment of great revelation for me as I was developing each character when I realised who each of their favourite artists were; knowing what music they chose to listen to at pivotal moments in the narrative. Understanding, for example, that William Woolf was listening to The Smiths as he strolled through Dublin city made the whole scene crackle with life for me; I could place myself in the very heart of him. Understanding that Clare’s musical heroine was Kate Bush gave me insight into the longings she nursed in private; the artistic instincts that she was working hard to oppress. Discovering that Winter’s favourite band was The Cure reinforced in me her melancholic disposition, and how art could articulate sadness for her in a way that was restorative, uplifting and ultimately joyful. Situating the novel in the late 80s allowed me to revel in the music that I loved from that time.
Every day, before I began to write, I would choose a song to listen to that encapsulated for me the energy or the feeling of the scene I wanted to work on. Sinking into the music, the physical world around me would slip away, and I was able to cross the bridge from the reality of life to the imaginary world of the novel. It’s a practice I have continued now while writing my second novel.
The William Woolf playlist is an eclectic one; I would love to think that as readers follow the story, they might pause and look up the songs that are mentioned and play them as they read, to experience the music as the characters do, to activate their aural senses as their imaginations conjure the world before them. If they do, I hope they enjoy the musical rollercoaster and that it deepens their connection with the narrative. The playlist follows and you can listen to it on Spotify here. I hope you enjoy it!
The Lost Letters of William Woolf Playlist
1. Chet Baker – Old Devil Moon
2. David Bowie – Wild is The Wind
3. Nina Simone – My baby just cares for me
4. The Cure – Pictures of You
5. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
6. Beethoven – Moonlight Piano Sonata
7. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
8. Sonny & Cher – I got you babe
9. Madonna – Like A Prayer
10. The Platters – The Great Pretender
11. Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
12. George Michael – Careless Whisper
13. Michael Dees – What are you doing for the rest of your life?
14. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks
15. The Bangles – Eternal Flame
16. The Smiths – There is a Light and It Never Goes Out
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Helen Cullen is an Irish writer living in London. She worked at RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) for seven years before moving to London in 2010. In the UK, Helen established a career as an events and engagement specialist before joining the Google UK marketing team in 2015.
The first draft of her debut novel THE LOST LETTERS OF WILLIAM WOOLF was written while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme under the mentorship of Michèle Roberts. Helen holds an M.A. Theatre Studies from UCD and is currently completing an M.A. English Literature at Brunel University.
Helen is now writing full-time and working on her second novel.