Despite the fact that my mother studied to be an opera singer in the 1960s, I’m not a very musical person.

I mean, I make up silly songs about everything, especially our growing collection of animals, but I don’t listen to a lot of music.

I write in silence because I find any sound pulls me away from my brain and interrupts my immersion in the story.

mixtapesBut musicality seems to have a place in the new novel I’m writing, which is set in the ’80s when everybody made mixed tapes, and this has inspired a lot of thought about what songs would fit its soundtrack.

While I’m working on compiling a song list for it, it seems unfair to both the forming story and the book that, you know, I launched last fall to jump ahead and post a soundtrack for the fledgling child.

So in the spirit of Tom Allen’s past interviews on CBC Radio Two’s Shift with Joseph Boyden, David Bergen, Lisa Moore and other Canada Reads writers about the play lists they would choose, I’ve selected five songs that speak to the story of Swarm. Enjoy!

1. A Forest – The Cure


2. Billionaire – Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars (see page 8)


3. Killing In the Name Of – Rage Against The Machine


4. Waves


5. Flight of the Bumblebee – Gyor Philharmonic Orchestra with Katica Illenyi on violin


Bonus track:



photo by Jinxi Caddel