GUEST POST: Music in Sins & Needles, by Karina Halle


I am so excited to have the amazing author Karina Halle on the blog today! She is releasing a new book this month, the first book in her new Artists Trilogy series. I am a huge fan of Karina’s and I am unbelievably excited to read this newest book — I hope you are, too!

sins and needlesSins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy, #1)
Release Date: January 29, 2013

Ellie Watt is used to starting over. The daughter of a grifting team, Ellie spent her childhood being used as a pawn in her parents’ latest scam. Now she’s much older, wiser and ready to give her con artist life a rest. But returning to the dry desert town of Palm Valley, California means one more temptation than she bargained for – Camden McQueen. Once known as the high school weirdo, Camden is bigger and badder than the boy he used to be and a talented tattoo artist with his own thriving business. Ellie’s counting on Camden still being in love with her but what she’s not counting on is how easily unrequited love can turn into obsession over time. When Camden discovers Ellie’s plan to con him, he makes her a deal she doesn’t dare refuse, but her freedom comes with a price and it’s one that takes both Ellie and Camden down a dangerous road.

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Karina stopped by in the past for a Q&A and she is here today to share the playlist for her new Sins & Needles book.

Music in Sins & Needles
by Karina Halle

With my music journalist background and devoted fangirling over a wide variety of bands (most leaning toward hard rock), it’s no wonder music plays such an important part of my writing. I write to music, with giant playlists full of artists that seem custom-made for the book I’m writing. It helps me develop atmosphere and – when I’m on a real writing high – becomes the soundtrack for the movie I am seeing in my head as I write.

Sins & Needles is no different than any of the books in the Experiment in Terror series in that regard (or The Devil’s Metal, of course that book is, as one reviewer pointed out, my love letter to music). I had a very specific playlist with very specific artists and songs that helped paint Ellie Watt and Camden McQueen’s high contrast world. The music I chose has a very cinematic feel, conjuring up the harshness of the high desert and the brutality of the book. Most of the music is – to quote Camden – “Rough, and sweet and sad.” And some songs are very, very important.

Now, here are all the music that has been featured/mentioned in Sins & Needles:

Calexico – When I listen to Calexico’s haunting melodies, I immediately conjure up images of open road and desert. Someone in an old muscle car, cruising along. Maybe they’ve just robbed a bank or ditched their lover. This band was the perfect muse for Sins & Needles.

Featured:  The album Feast of Wire, the song “Gypsy Curse” (from The Black Light)

The Cramps – The Cramps make such a fan cover band and there’s something about the music – maybe it’s the campiness, or the surf-inspired sounds – that makes it such a good fit for the book. It’s dark, wild and out there, pushing buttons. I can’t think of a greater band for Camden to play in.

Featured:  Camden’s band Kettle Black plays “Fever” and “Human Fly” in the book

The Doors – If Sins & Needles were a movie, it would end up with a crane shot of California’s Highway 62, with “Roadhouse Blues” blasting from a 70’s Pontiac GTO. All of Morrison Hotel is great desert music. “Queen of the Highway” is also a goodie.

Featured:  “Roadhouse Blues” from Morrison Hotel.

Bohren & Der Club of Gore – Ellie listens to the album Sunset Mission before she pulls a con. The horror jazz band is smooth instrumental, perfect for sipping Scotch by a fire and planning illegal activities. Need a song to sample? Might I suggest “On Demon Wings” or “Street Tattoo”…

The Dead Weather – Allison Mosshart could be the singing equivalent of Ellie Watt, and Jack White, Camden McQueen. When these two singers face off, singing about deceit and love, watch out! “I Cut like a Buffalo” and “So Far From Your Weapon” are great examples from the very desolate/westerny/angsty Horehound.

Featured: “Treat Me Like Your Mother” from Horehound

Guano Padano – Camden first wins over Ellie by playing the track “Epiphany” from the band’s self-titled album. GUYS! Seriously go buy this record. This is a tiny Italian band fronted by one talented (and cute!) Italian called Alessandro Asso. He’s awesome and he makes awesome music (think spaghetti western rock). Go download their self-titled album or Guano Padano 2. Go buy it now. I’ll wait.

Featured: “Epiphany” from Guano Padano

Nine Inch Nails – Somehow, all my male leads can always relate to Trent Reznor. He is ever present on every playlist for every book. I put every single NIN album on shuffle and GO.

Featured: “Wish” from the album Broken. After all, it’s tattooed on Javier’s wrist!

Dire Straits – to quote Ellie, “It was time to face the music. It sounded a lot like Dire Straits.” I’m fortunate enough to have seen Mark Knopfler twice and growing up, his music was such a big influence on me. I’m glad it’s finally made its way into my writing. There are so many Dire Straits songs that have meaning but, obviously, “On Every Street” is a huge factor in Sins & Needles.

Featured: “On Every Street” from On Every Street – their final album, which makes the song extra sad.

Music that I wrote to but didn’t get mentioned in the book:

Queens of the Stone Age/Desert Sessions/Kyuss – yes, how could I not listen to the Coachella Valley’s own Josh Homme and his never-ending bands? Well of course I listened to Songs for the Deaf like crazy and Kyuss’s album Sky Valley influenced the name of Ellie and Camden’s town, Palm Valley. But, I don’t know…I thought it would be too cliché for them to listen to QOTSA, just because Josh Homme would have been their local hero.

Tomahawk – I just got an ARC of their newest album Oddfellows (out Jan 29th! Just like Sins & Needles! No, didn’t plan it that way!) and I fucking love it. There was a day I spent writing where I just listened to the album on repeat. I REGRET NOTHING!

Amon Tobin – his collaboration with Jim Dooley for the soundtrack of Infamous (the video game) is fantastic for writing safe-cracking or money-laundering scenes.

Rob Dougan – I love this little known artist (although you may know his songs Clubbed to Death and Chateau from The Matrix movies and countless movie trailers). His album Furious Angels is a moving mix of upbeat electronic music and soulful melodies – and some great anger ballads. “Left Me for Dead” could have been Camden’s song for Ellie once upon a time.  “One and the Same” may have been the reason I cried like a baby when I finished the last scene.

The KillsBlood Pressures. Go buy it. As I said before, if Alison Mosshart could act (and maybe she can) she could do a fabulous job playing Ellie. She’s tough as nails, but then you hear her in a song like “The Last Goodbye” and you’re struck by just how vulnerable this young woman is. I don’t love many female singers but I do love her.

Massive Attack – always, always a fan. Always present on every playlist and Sins & Needles was no different!

Thank you so much, Karina, for being on the blog! Be sure to come back on January 28th to read my review of Sins & Needles. I can say with confidence that although I haven’t read it yet, I’m already pining for the rest of the books in the series!

Check out Karina’s books on GoodReads and read my reviews:

Experiment in Terror series: 
Darkhouse (#1)

Red Fox (#2)
The Benson (#2.5)
Dead Sky Morning (#3)
Lying Season (#4)
On Demon Wings (#5)
Old Blood (#5.5)
The Dex Files (#5.7)
Into the Hollow (#6)

Devils series: 
The Devil’s Metal (#1)

About the Author:

The daughter of a Norwegian Viking and a Finnish Moomin, Karina Halle grew up in Vancouver, Canada with trolls and eternal darkness on the brain. This soon turned into a love of all things that go bump in the night and a rather sadistic appreciation for freaking people out. Like many of the flawed characters she writes, Karina never knew where to find herself and has dabbled in acting, make-up artistry, film production, screenwriting, photography, travel writing and music journalism. She eventually found herself in the pages of the very novels she wrote (if only she had looked there to begin with).

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently splits her time between her apartment in downtown Vancouver and her sailboat, where a book and a bottle of wine are always at hand.

Darkhouse is her first novel and the first one in the Experiment in Terror Series. Things only get better from here on in. (Bio and photo from Goodreads)

Connect with Karina:



9 thoughts on “GUEST POST: Music in Sins & Needles, by Karina Halle

  1. Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails yay! I went to a tour a while back that had QotSA opening for NIN it was a dream night! I’m starting this book today and I’m so excited (was supposed to start it tomorrow but thanks to the Wii U that did not happen!) Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I love how I always discover new bands when I read Karina Halle’s books. In this case it’s The Dead Weather. I’ve heard of them before but for some reason never actually bothered to listen to them 😉

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