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November 11, 2010

Book Notes - Martin Millar ("Lonely Werewolf Girl" & "Curse of the Wolf Girl")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

I first read Martin Millar a couple of years ago when several of his novels were sent my way by Soft Skull. I picked up the first, then a couple of days later closed the last, after reading every book straight through, one after the other. Millar is a captivating writer, and captures the essence of urban decay with rare humor and grace.

After reading his inner city novels, I devoured Lonely Werewolf Girl in one sitting when it arrived on my doorstep in 2008. With supernatural books all the rage, Millar transcended the genre with multiple, credible plotlines and well-drawn characters combined with a healthy dose of pop culture.

Curse of the Wolf Girl is a direct continuation of Lonely Werewolf Girl, and shares its predecessor's strengths.

These supernatural novels will appeal to both adult and young adult readers, and just might be the way to sneak something literary into the reading of Twilight fans.

Bookslut wrote of Curse of the Wolf Girl:

"Martin Millar successfully returns to the world of werewolves, mayhem and fashion crises in Curse of the Wolf Girl, a sequel to his earlier title, Lonely Werewolf Girl. Readers must -- must -- read the books in order to have a clue what is going on, but with that caveat, you can sit back and enjoy the ongoing trials and tribulations of the MacRinnach werewolf clan with glee. There is also a lot here about remedial college, comic books, opera, pop music, and how to get your fashion line reviewed by very popular couture bloggers. That all these disparate storylines are cohesively held together is something any writer would find difficult to accomplish, but Millar does it, and he provides a very powerful narrative that never strays from its thriller roots."

In his own words, here is Martin Millar's Book Notes music playlist for his novels, Lonely Werewolf Girl and Curse of the Wolf Girl:

Both these werewolf novels are set in contemporary London. Despite this, there is more 70s music mentioned than might have been expected. Partly because I cheated, as I like a lot of 70s music. But it's also because I feel that including older British music in the books helps to solidify London for the reader in a way that more modern music might not have.

For instance, Kalix and Decembrius, both werewolves, climb onto the roof of the former Apple Music Building in Savile Row, in the centre of London, which is the building where the Beatles staged their rooftop concert in 1969, their last ever live appearance.

Playlist 1- The Beatles - "Get Back"

Which the Beatles did play extremely well live, considering they'd argued all the way through their rehearsals, and now they were on a cold, windy rooftop, with the police swarming up the building to arrest them.

Decembrius is fond of his rock music history. In Charing Cross Road he takes a look at St Martin's College of Art, where the Sex Pistols played their first gig - or he thinks they did, anyway - and after that he takes a look at the 100 Club in Oxford Street, scene of an early punk festival in 1976.

Playlist 2 - Sex Pistols - "Pretty Vacant"

Punk Anthem, unsurpassed by any other punk band. You can't make a punk single better than this.

The teenage werewolf Kalix is quite divorced from the world around her, partly due to her illiteracy. She knows nothing of contemporary music, and as she wanders around London, homeless, she has only one music tape, which she loves. This is by the Runaways. And it's not unreasonable for Kalix to love the Runaways. They were a good band, though under-appreciated at the time. Journalists generally couldn't see past them being young women in lingerie - perhaps not surprisingly - and gave them a hard time about it.

Playlist 3 - The Runaways - "Cherry Bomb"

Great single, one of their best. The Runaways were a good band, and they could play well on stage, as shown on their Live in Japan album.

Beauty and Delicious, female werewolf twins, both play in their own modern thrash band. But with their bright pink and blue hair, they're fans of glam rock too, and compile playlists for their motorway journeys in their van, on the way to gigs.

Playlist 4 - T Rex - "Telegram Sam"

Glam classic, one of T Rex's finest moments, and T Rex had a lot of fine moments. Particularly appropriate because it ends with the phrase 'I'm the howling wolf.'

The Douglas-Macphees, a criminal gang of werewolves, grew up in Glasgow. There they saw gigs at Green's Playhouse, later renamed the Apollo. Glasgow was an important venue for rock bands back then, and everyone played there. When I was growing up I saw very many gigs at the Green's Playhouse. I wrote about one of these gigs, Led Zeppelin, in Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me. The Douglas-MacPhees always liked heavy rock, and could be observed recently purchasing a Deep Purple boxed set.

Playlist 5 - Deep Purple - "Black Night"

I could have picked any number of songs from Deep Purple's 70s heyday. The Douglas-MacPhees have a lot of favourites.

Vex, a young Fire Elemental and friend of the werewolves, has no time for old music, and has expressed amazement that anyone would still listen to Led Zeppelin. Vex is fond of comics, anime and manga. Vex would enjoy some modern electronic music from Japan, particularly from people who share her eccentric style of dress -

Playlist 6 - Hangry & Angry - "Top Secret"

A Japanese female duo. They came into existence as a marketing tool for a fashion store in Harajuku, Tokyo, and still managed to record a really entertaining album.

The young werewolf Kalix lives with two human students, Daniel and Moonglow. Daniel, occasionally tormented by teenage angst and frustrated young love, generally enjoys a good slab of doom/gothic metal. Since he encountered the MacRinnalch Werewolf Clan, he's found himself listening to this more -

Playlist 7 - Type O Negative - "Wolf Moo"n

His flatmate Moonglow, a sensitive and sensible young woman, grew up listening to Kate Bush and believes that if you don't like kate Bush, you should just listen to her some more. There may be something in this.

Playlist 8 - Kate Bush - "Under the Big Sky"

Moonglow was crushed by a disastrous affair with a werewolf, and it took a lot of listening to Kate Bush to get over it.

The regal Malveria, queen of the Fire Elementals, has little time for rock music, or any sort of music, until she finds herself unexpectedly captivated by the opera in Covent Garden. The first opera she sees is by Verdi, and she takes great pleasure from the whole experience. As a newcomer to opera, I expect she'd be attracted to some popular favourites from the genre.

Playlist 9 - Verdi - "The Drinking Song (Libiamo ne' lieti calici)"

Finally, all werewolf soundtracks, whether for book, film or TV, should include Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising." It doesn't matter if it's been used many times before, it should be in there somewhere.

Playlist 10 - Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Bad Moon Rising"

Martin Millar and Curse of the Wolf Girl links:

the author's website
the author's blog
the author's Wikipedia entry

B Movie Man review
Beyond Books review
Bookslut review
Food for Silverfish review
Guys Lit Wire review
jennIRL review
Jenny's Books review
Larghearted WORD review
Leap in the Dark review
OZ Online Reviews review
Portrait of a Woman review
Things Mean a Lot review
Wands and Worlds review

Coilhouse interview with the author
jennIRL interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)

Online "Best Books of 2010" lists

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists