COVID-19, me, music and inspiration

I have been very quiet on here and on my Facebook pages for a few months. I’ve also been struggling with writing for the same months. I caught COVID-19 way back at the beginning of all this, in March. You could say I’ve had the long version but what that means for me is a bit different. Fatigue is nothing new. Most of you, if you’ve followed me for awhile, know I already had chronic fatigue. My life was already managed by that not me. I kept a seperate blog years ago about my progression into illness and disability and learning to live with constant pain and illness https://battlingankylosingspondylitis.wordpress.com/ .

Catching COVID-19, but also locking down for weeks because of it, has made my health and my fatige worse, though. I am still doing my day job, which now means sitting in one chair for 7.5 hours plus most days, working at home, instead of working on a large site that involved walking to and from offices regularly. And the thing about fatigue is the less you do the less you can do. So I am much tireder in the evenings, therefore, the number of hours my mind feels capable of writing for has narrowed down to none – two hours a day, from the four – five hours I used to write around my day job.

But this blog post isn’t really about the fatigue, I wanted to share another consequence of working at home that I hadn’t recognised until today. The other thing I’ve noticed is that my inspiration has been drying up. When I do write the ideas for scene development have been coming very slowly. Writing has become harder. I’ve put it down to the fatigue, to my mind being out of energy and not functioning effectively – it does stop the electrical charges in your motor neaurons functioning effectively. I’ve also thought that maybe because I have not been excersizing the creative side of my brain as much, a bit like a muscle, it’s lost some of its strength.

But no, I don’t think that is what the reduced creativity is about.

I am now back in the office generally one or two days a week and on the way home tonight I realised how something else that has changed in the last six months has been effecting my creativity. A lack of music. Before lock down I was probably in my car for ten hours a week, and my commute to work is almost an hour. In the morning, on my way into work, I listened to the radio, on the way home I listened to songs on my Itunes account. As I drove home in the dark tonight my car full of Taylor Swift, my mind started popping like fireworks with ideas. Again if you followed me for awhile you’ll know all my books have a connection with a song that was released at the time I started writing. Including the historical books (if they are ever made into period dramas, I’d love them to sensitively and creatively use modern songs in the background to set the tempo). The muscial connections that really stand out in my mind still are The Illicit Love of a Courtesan and Ne Yo’s song Let me love you, The Passionate Love of a Rake and John Newman’s song Love me Again , The Dangerous Love of Rogue and Jeremih’s song Don’t tell ’em if you know the stories, you’ll be spotting the link to the fact that the plot lines have a real connection with the songs. I need songs, or rather music, because it’s the emotion in the sound not just the words themselves, to generate and inspire my creativity.

In my contemporary books you’ll see the songs that influenced my ideas and emotions are sometimes even written into the stories. In Free Me an Ed Sheeran album becomes the characters’ soundtrack in the book (without breaking copyright rules), and the song One was the major inspiration. Ed’s song writing has inspired several books of mine, though. One song particularly Photograph inspired the novel I published at the beginning of the summer. I didn’t blog about it because I was quite ill still at the time. But the last book in my second historical series, Entangled, features the far more painful aspects of love and a locket. 😉 Mmm spot the link. Although, obviously, the locket doesn’t contain a photograph in the historical story. There are also two contemporary stories to come with locket connections. I just love the emotion of holding on to love in a secret captured way in that song.

So that is why my creativity has dried up … Not because I’m tired but because I only listen to music for about an hour a week while I’m working in the garden or in the house and don’t even have a free mind! It feels so obvious to me now I’ve finally realised that. And I will be putting some time into my day to listen to music. I’m sure I will feel happier for it and the hour or so my mind is able to work well enough to write in a day will be far more productive.

I’ll also spend one of my hours tomorrow telling you about the music that inspired my second psychological thriller.

The Twins

Available in ebook and audiobook on

20 November 2020

If you liked Blood OrangeThe Perfect Couple and The House Guest you will love this!

Susan and Sarah. Sisters. Best friends.
Together…forever?

Nothing could break them apart.

Until they meet him.

And he can only choose one…

Now Susan is back. Determined to reclaim everything Sarah has taken from her.
 
Her home, her husband…her life?

The secrets of a bestseller

Researching a stalker was actually really fun although, you may think it was a little creepy. A lot of authors will tell you that police officers would find their Google search history very interesting, and mine would definitely be amusing if you looked back through the months when I wrote this story.

My first psychological thriller, written under the pen name J.S. Lark, has topped the Ghost Thrillers and Vigilante Justice Thrillers charts in the USA today and is in the Psychological Fiction top 20. I think therefore it is about time I got around to writing this post. I planned to do it a couple of weeks ago but then COVID-19 caught me. I am lucky to be well on the way to recovery now, though.

Of course, in real life I have never stalked someone so to understand what was possible in this story and to get into a stalker’s mind, I had to explore what can be found about someone on the internet. Without giving away any of the plot, which has a lot of twists I would hate to spoil, I can tell you I researched all of these things:

  • How the press report accidents?
  • Whether or not you can get up to the top of a car park in Swindon? The car park in the book is fictional, though, it’s a merged version of several multi storey car parks.
  • Facts about Bipolar, and videos recorded by those who have the condition.
  • Videos by clairvoyants.
  • I followed famous people on Instagram to see what their pictures could give away.
  • Then someone on a radio show talked about older family members checking into everywhere on Facebook, and giving away their location at every moment, so I explored that.
  • I looked up companies on the Companies House website to see what it tells you about the owners.
  • I looked at company websites to get ideas about how much they gave away
  • I also looked up actual obituaries – which is a bit creepy.

I did not only play stalker on the internet, though. As you know, for my historical books I do a lot of physical research, travelling to places to learn the reality in the setting, which is the whole premise for this blog. So, I did also spend a day in Bath where a large part of the book is set and walked around the areas my character does. I lived in Swindon for 16 years, and I lived in the centre of Swindon of several years, so the scenes set in Swindon are in areas I know really well. But I only recently discovered the Green Park area of Bath, and so I went there to try and get my mind into what it would feel like to sit on a park bench for hours and watch a house.

I didn’t sit on the park bench for hours, but I did sit there for one hour on a cold grey day, with a cup of take-away coffee in hand and just took in the atmosphere, and in my mind imagined what it would be like to be 100% focused on someone in the house on the other side of the road.

The outcomes of all this research can be discovered in the book…

You can buy the book from any bookseller but here is the Amazon link