The Build-Up Season Mix Tape

Music played a huge part in writing The Build-Up Season and in getting to know Ily, so she totally deserves a mix tape. Underneath Ily’s coat of amour, all adorned with spikes and razor wire, there’s a vulnerable centre hidden beneath the metal and sharp. She’s no good at expressing herself with words, but her music choices reflect what’s going on inside.

So, to get to know her better, here’s the soundtrack to the book.

Sometimes I reference the band but not the song, so here are the ACTUAL songs she was listening to.

Page 8: Ily’s listening to The Smiths as Jared walks through the school grounds.

Actual song blasting through her headphones: This Charming Man


Page 16: Ily’s wearing a Velvet Underground T-shirt:

There’s no particular song on her t-shirt, but here’s a song to represent The Build-Up Season vibe:


Page 47: Ily is mocking the Kumbaya My Lord tune, a song she attributes to Eve. To be fair, it’s pretty ridiculous –


Page 80: 

Sufjan Stevens – Drawn to the Blood – this album ‘Carrie and Lowell’ is my favourite of 2015 and I listened to it incessantly while I was writing the first draft. It’s delicate and dreamy and powerful and heartbreaking.


The Zombies ‘Time of the Season’. I imagine Jared introducing this classic tune to Ily –


Loon Lake is one of the best Australian bands of recent times. This is just one of their gems, ‘Fantastica’ but please discover them if you haven’t already and get their tunes into your ears pronto –


Page 104: Max is tapping rap tunes on his legs. This here is what he’s tapping, this powerful, brilliant, political song by A.B. Original. They’re amazing (also, Australia, what the hell is wrong with us? Change the damned date of Australia Day. Can we maybe celebrate this incredible country on any day except January 26, the day which historically marks the invasion and subsequent shameful massacres and subjugation of our first peoples?) –


Page 217: Ily cranks The Ramones. She’s listening to Blitzkrieg Bop –


Page 260Enya, Eve loves her –


Finally, I was obsessed with Lorde while writing this book. I stumbled across Royals and Tennis Court, and the energy Lorde displayed in these music videos perfectly mirrored how I felt Ily to be as she lived inside me, banging on my bones and demanding that I tell her story. In these clips she seems simultaneously defiant but also vulnerable; aggressive but also guarded; fierce but also scared. These clips are so powerful and complex and I was utterly fascinated.

While writing The Build-Up Season, whenever I was stuck, whenever I was unsure of how to channel Ily in a particular scene, I’d play these two clips on repeat, and I’d try to channel the same vibe and energy in my writing.



Do you listen to music to try to capture the mood of a character or scene? Or do you have a specific song in your head when you mention a band in passing in your stories? Let me know in the comments below!

x m

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