Alexia Casale’s ‘House of Windows Writing Playlist’


Alexia Cesale
Track 1 – Theme-song: If I Die Young, The Band Perry

I play a book’s ‘theme song’ in the 15 minutes before I start writing and for a further 5-10 minutes once I get going. With this theme song, it’s not about the words per se, it’s about the ‘feel’ of the music and the lyrics together. House of Windows is less about losing love and more about the grief of losing the opportunity for people who’ve failed to love you well to do better in future. Emotionally, this song has the perfect mix of yearning, melancholy, hope, love and grief.


Track 2: Clown, Sam Bailey

A song about negotiating between our inner and outer ‘selves’: an issue a lot of the female characters in the book struggle with.


Track 3: Just The Way You Are, Billy Joel

What Tim might sing to Ange if the book were a musical.


Track 4: Movin’ Out, Billy Joel

I play this for the sound rather than the lyrics – anger and frustration and a sense of threat.


Track 5: Wild Horses, Susan Boyle

I love songs in a minor key that feel they should be a children’s lullaby. This captures so many of the things Nick doesn’t have in his parents and grounded me in how young he is.


Track 6: Blackbird, Sarah McLachlan

Love, yearning, hope: a good track for scenes where Nick is trying to socialise and make friends. The sudden dips into the minor were great for capturing how hope flashes to disappointment so easily when we’re trying to impress strangers.


Track 7: Secret Garden, Fionnuala Sherry, Rolf Løvland

Haunting, delicate and beautiful, this was a particularly good track for the graveyard scene, though really for any scene where Nick was alone, particularly wandering around or reading.


Track 7: Make You Feel My Love, Adele

The book is largely about people learning that, as adults, having a loving family is never about unconditional, unthinking love but rather about mutual choices to act with love.


Track 8: Innocent Man, Billy Joel

This is a song about fear and the fact that love doesn’t come to you when you sit behind a closed door. It sums up one of the characters perfectly.


Track 9: Nocturne No 2, Chopin

Delicate and haunting, full of intelligence and passion and curiosity, this nocturne captures Prof. Gosswin perfectly. It is also playing in the background during a key scene towards the end of the book.


Track 10: Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell

Love, yearning, loss: a great for many different scenes.


Track 12: Ave Maria (Anton Bruckner), King’s College Choir

The perfect writing track for the scene in King’s Chapel but also many of the scenes where Nick is enjoying the beautiful of the Cambridge University Colleges and their grounds.


Track 12: Mad World, The Glee Project

A song about loneliness and alienation: having lots of different teens singing on the track helped me to focus on how most young people feel like this and how similar that feeling is even when the reasons are different for different people.


Track 13: Cats in the Cradle, Cat Stevens

This song perfectly sums up the relationship between Nick and his father – at least as father as Nick’s Godfather, Bill, sees it.



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