According to my mum, I was singing to myself in my cot when I was a tiny baby – long before I ever learned to talk. I have learned piano and am a classically trained singer, I have sung in bands, madrigal groups, choirs, musical theatre and cabaret, and I’ve performed as a soloist – all of these both for fun and professionally. I have also used my musical abilities to work in the theatre restaurant and cabaret industries, writing music and musically directing shows.
My music-centric nature came to play a great deal when I was writing my rockstar thriller romance The Devil Inside (book 2 in the Storm Haven Series) – music was a massive part of the creative process.
For The Devil Inside, there was a range of songs and artists I particularly liked to listen to while diving into my characters’ lives and the thriller elements of the book, so I have collated them into a playlist for you.
Songs for the emotional journey and inspiration:
‘The Devil Inside’ by INXS: The titles for the books in this series come from this iconic band’s songs, so of course I listened to ‘The Devil Inside’, this book’s namesake song, many times to get myself into the groove.
MUSE: I so love MUSE. They are the one band I can totally call my muse – I always listen to their songs no matter what I’m writing. But during writing The Devil Inside, I mostly listened to those of their songs that gave me all the emotional highs and lows I needed – the specific titles are listed in sections below. But the albums on repeat were: Drones, The Resistance, Hullabaloo, Simulation Theory and Origin of Symmetry.
‘Still Life’ by Patty Medina: I listen to this one for how it brings images to mind for scene setting in other books. While writing The Devil Inside, this one was about the journey and how you can feel like you’re sitting still even while everything around you is moving. Essential for Phil’s emotional journey.
‘After All’ by Cher: I know, I know. It’s a truly soppy love song. But it reminds me of the goofiness and heart-string-pulling cluelessness of Robert Downey Jnr in the movie it’s from, Chances Are (1989), and this really helped with building how Phil feels around Mel from the start.
‘Would I Lie to You’ by Eurythmics: This really informed how mistrustful Mel was through the first part of the novel and how nothing Phil or the others say can shift this no matter what they do.
‘River’ by Joni Mitchell (although I listened to the Idina Menzel version): This one is supposedly a Christmas song, but it doesn’t really work that way for me. It was a song that I could listen to through any moment of the writing process because it speaks to heartache and hopelessness but also hope for forgiveness which worked for so many parts of Mel and Phil’s journey.
Songs for the brighter moments:
‘Undisclosed Desires’ and ‘Guiding Light’ by MUSE: These songs helped me to bring the hope and love when everything was a bit desperate or doomy and gloomy.
‘Something Human’ by MUSE: This one was great for lifting me up out of dark spirals and reminding me how Phil and Mel found each other despite how different they are and how they will find each other again despite everything that’s happened.
At times I needed something a bit funkier, especially with the scenes where the band were working together on demystifying Mel’s past, so I leaned into a bit of Jamiroquai with ‘Cosmic Girl’, ‘Little L’ and ‘You Give Me Something’.
‘Stop and Stare’ by One Republic: This one was about reminding me that change is okay and to help make Phil and Mel see this too.
‘Breakaway’ by Big Pig: The drums in this one really spoke to me, given Phil’s a drummer, but also spoke to the intense beat of his heart every time he’s around Mel and how it gives him hope for their future. This one could also work as an inspirational anthem.
‘Right Here Waiting for You’ by Richard Markx: Another soppy love song, but it really spoke to how Phil was there for Mel and how, deep down, despite her loss of memory, she was there for him.
‘Free’ by Broods: Love the storytelling in this song and it felt like it worked for both Mel and Phil in different parts of their journey to eachother.
Songs for the darker moments:
‘Stockholm Syndrome’ by MUSE: This one helped me to dig into Mel’s memories and how they were taken from her and what that might have felt like.
‘Dead Inside’ and ‘The Handler’ by MUSE: These helped me to dig into how Phil and Mel both feel at times and the confusion and desolation that tries to tear them apart.
‘Whataya Want From Me’ by P!nk: I think this one is self-explanatory in regard to how Mel feels when she wakes up and all these people around her know her but she doesn’t know them.
‘Harden my Heart’ by Quarterflash: This song spoke to me about both Phil’s and Mel’s dark backgrounds and how lost and betrayed they felt.
‘Turning Tables’ by Adele: This song is so heartbreaking and helped when writing those moments of doubt that both Phil and Mel have about how things can possibly work between them.
‘Chains’ by Tina Arena: This one spoke to me when Mel felt constrained by everything, but it also worked as a brighter, more hopeful song for when she broke free of the memories of her past and found herself.
Songs for the fighting spirit:
‘Won’t Stand Down’ by MUSE: A fight anthem if ever there was one! And, boy, do Phil and Mel need to fight to win a HEA.
‘F**Kin’ Perfect’ by P!nk: This one spoke to how Phil felt about Mel and Arwen and his family and how much he was ready to fight for it, and became a bit of an anthem for me through writing their story.
‘Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey: This song has rock anthem written all over it and worked well for me to lift the spirits but also to with writing Phil and Mel when things looked so very bad.
‘Playing to Win’ by Little River Band (the John Farnham version): I just loved listening to it for the intent, but also the urgency in the music, which keeps pushing things along.
‘Alive’ by Sia: As well as being a fight anthem, this song also works for me in the darker moments. I particularly listened to this while writing difficult moments of remembering for Mel and at the end when both Mel and Phil are fighting against the baddie for each other.
Songs for scene-setting:
‘Johnson’s Aeroplane’ by INXS: This lesser-known INXS song, one I find plaintive and full of visual and emotive cues, always reminds me of the country and that no matter how wide and vast it is, communities bring it together.
‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’ by Fallout Boy: This is an anthem-type song, but it also has a big element of urgency and thriller to it with that driving drum and lyric and the idea of there being things hidden, so it was a great one to listen to when creating all these elements.
‘Synchronicity II’ by the Police: I’m not sure why this worked for me (other than I love it) but it just makes me feel closed in and repressed, which is great when writing thriller scenes.
‘Psycho Killer’ by Talking Heads: It’s pretty self-explanatory that I would listen to this when trying to get into my baddies’ heads and figure out what they would do to get what they wanted.
So that’s it – my ultimate playlist for when I was writing The Devil Inside. There were many other songs of course (there always are with me!) but these were all on high rotation. I hope you enjoy listening to them as you read this rockstar romance smalltown thriller.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leisl Leighton
Leisl is a tall redhead with an overly large imagination. As a child, she identified strongly with Anne of Green Gables. A voracious reader and a born performer, it came as no surprise to anyone when she did a double major in English Literature and Drama for her BA, then went on to a career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as scriptwriter, stage manager and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants (one of which she co-owned and ran for six years).
After starting a family, Leisl stopped performing and instead began writing the stories that had been plaguing her dreams. Leisl’s stories have won and placed in many competitions in Australia and the US, including the RUBY, STALI, Golden Opportunities, Heart of the West, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, Touch of Magic and many others.
Leisl lives in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne with her two beautiful boys, lovely hubby and overly spunky pets Skye and Ripley, and likes to spend time with family and friends. She is addicted to anything sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal (books, TV shows, movies – bring them on!) and owns ALL the superhero movies. She sometimes sings in a choir, has worked as a swim teacher, loves to ski, can talk the hind leg off a donkey and was President of Romance Writers of Australia from 2014 to 2017.
You can contact Leisl through her website www.leislleighton.com or sign up to her Newsletter and be the first to find out about new releases, appearances, special deals and exclusive giveaways. You can also follow her on Instagram, Goodreads, BookBub and Facebook.
Don’t miss The Devil Inside
Dark secrets. A mysterious past. And an unforgettable passion.
After months in a coma, music promoter Melissa Linklater wakes up to a world she doesn’t remember. She’s shocked to discover she’s married – to Phil Paris, the intensely handsome drummer of world-famous band The Sidhe – and has a baby daughter. She has lost the memory of the last eight years of her life. Phil, their baby and his bandmates are all strangers.
Phil is devastated that Mel can’t remember her years with him. He needs her to remember – because he is nothing without his wife. Fame and wealth, even his music, no longer bring him joy. The only things that matter are Mel and their baby. He throws all he is into helping Mel remember, but instead of recovering memories of them, she starts to remember a secret past and a web of lies that threatens to destroy everything she knew about herself.
Someone else is also after those secrets. As her mysterious stalker escalates from anonymous phone calls to break-ins and physical threats, the police and her doctors don’t believe her – but Phil does. While she still can’t remember anything about her life with him, she does feel things for him – passionate, needful things that make her want to trust him with her darkest secrets. Will sharing those secrets make them closer or bring more danger to their door?