How to Soundtrack a Winning Story

Sue Copsey

I wasn't going to enter the Booktrack Hugh Howey competition – I had only ever created soundtracks for my own writing, and hadn't a clue about fan fic. Well, apart from being vaguely aware of stories my teen daughter writes on Wattpad about a cute YouTuber.

Teen daughter (let's call her TD) is also a competition fiend. She'll enter ANYTHING. Never mind privacy, her personal details must be on marketing databases right across Eastern Europe. So when I happened to mention the stonking amount of prize money up for grabs in the Booktrack competition, she pleaded for me to show her how to use Booktrack Studio. It was a wet Saturday afternoon, so why not? "Okay, tell you what, we'll both enter."

We sat quietly reading Hugh Howey's Halfway Home as the rain pitter-pattered down (see Booktrack "Rain on concrete, cars whooshing by"). I don't read a lot of sci-fi (okay, I never read sci-fi) but immediately I was Hughegly (that didn't really work, did it?) impressed with the quality of Hugh Howey's writing. In-Your-Face, people who think self-published work must be second-rate!

We chose a chapter each, then got down to work. At first I was only doing this to keep TD company, but soon I was having a ball. I chose an action scene because I couldn't resist the gunshots, sirens, roaring tractors and buzzing electric fence – I was channelling Mission Impossible. Meanwhile TD was scrolling through pages of sound effects muttering, "None of these yells are right." I explained it wasn't necessary to soundtrack every single noise, it was more about creating atmosphere.

When I'd finished, I asked Artistic Teen Son to design me a cover using a beautiful Hubble Telescope image of a galaxy. The result was gorgeous. I said I'd pay him if I won, in an, "As if that's gonna happen!" way.

TD set about asking her zillion Facebook friends to rate and review, and spent the rest of the day – evening – weekend – week – obsessively checking her number of reads and comments.

Meanwhile I was pleased with my entry, but kind of forgot about it, thinking some clever composer would probably write an amazing piece that would blow the socks off the Booktrack team. So it really was a wonderful surprise when I heard I was a finalist. The teens will get a little bit of the prize money each, and I may just take TD to Sydney for a girls' weekend. Should I, do you think?

Sue-CopseyCheck out Sue Copsey's prize-winning entry for the Hugh Howey Booktrack Competition here.

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