A playlist — and a glimpse into how I write

Dear Friends Who Read and Readers Who are Friends,

I’m asked often about the process of writing: how I approach my day.

Invariably, my day begins by watching movie trailers or music videos to get into the right emotional space for whatever scene I am going to write that morning. Movie trailers and music videos are often a wonderful shorthand for very deep feelings.

For my most recent novel, THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT, I tended to watch more music videos than movie trailers.

Here’s a playlist I created of the songs I listened to most often while writing that novel. Flight attendant Cassie Bowden’s “anthem” would be Sia’s poignant, wrenching “Chandelier.” I know of no song that so perfectly captures “morning-after” self-loathing with such remarkable clarity. Click here to watch the whole playlist — or whichever songs interest you most.


I must admit, I love Cassie Bowden. She is among my favorite heroines. Yes, she’s a mess and makes some terrible mistakes. I know what a disaster her childhood was and how those scars inform her choices and her adult behavior.

But I’ve always appreciated what John Gardner suggests in his terrific book on writing, “The Art of Fiction.” He teaches us that the two points on a compass that matter most in fiction are conflict and human transformation. Can Cassie change before it’s too late? (Good heavens, can any of us?) That was often the question I asked myself while writing the novel.

And I also know how many books we have all loved with main characters whose decisions we may not always have liked: think of such remarkable novels as THE GODFATHER, THE SECRET HISTORY, SHARP OBJECTS, or ANNA KARENINA.

In any case, I thought you might enjoy this playlist.

Happy reading — and happy watching.

As always, thank you so much for your faith in my work!

All the best,

Chris B.

Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of nineteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Sleepwalker. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, The Guest Room, and The Double Bind.