When you are seeking ideas for a spot of creative writing, there are all sorts of tips and tricks to help you get started. One of these is to stand in front of a bookshelf (preferably at home, not in a public library or bookshop, or people might think you’re a bit weird); close your eyes, and select a book at random. Then use the title of the book as a jumping-off point for your writing.

I tried this a while ago when I was feeling unfocused and wanted something to work on. Guess which book I picked? Roget’s Thesaurus. Well, I’m sure there are songs out there waiting to be written around lists of words, their synonyms and connotations, but the idea defeated me so I’m afraid I cheated and put it back, and picked another one.

It was a novel called The Hunted Heart by Norah C James. Norah was my grandfather’s first cousin (making her my first cousin twice removed for the benefit of genealogy buffs) and from the 1930s through to the 1970s she was a very successful and prolific author, mostly of romantic fiction. She’s pretty much been forgotten now; all her books are out of print, but in 1929 Norah was front-page news when her very first novel, Sleeveless Errand, was banned under the Obscene Publications Act. I tell her fascinating story in one of my talks, Censored.


I thought The Hunted Heart had more potential than Roget, so after twisting the title I wrote the song, which you can listen to here: Heart Hunter

On the recording, I am playing a fingerpicking pattern on acoustic guitar in the background, while the wonderful electric guitar work is courtesy of Zac Ware. Zac is an amazingly talented musician (and lead guitarist with The Proclaimers) and it’s awe-inspiring how his arrangement has turned a fairly simple song into something extra special!

Don’t miss his solo that starts at 1:41……..