To get in the mood for writing my retro-futuristic romance fiction, I listen to a lot of synthwave. It’s kind of hard to explain if you’re not familiar with the genre, but you’ll know it once you hear it.
Think 80s synth music, but fuller, cleaner, polished and modern, yet with that distinct longing for a distant halcyon era. It’s sometimes described as “nostalgia for a future that never happened”—that’s the kind of future I like to write about.
So grab a cup of tea, a cherry cola, a FIJI artesian water or malted milkshake, and enjoy a little retrofuture love.
10. Let’s Talk — FM-84
One of my all-time favourites, this song captures the sweet sad moods I wanted for Sofia and Alexei in The Only Question That Matters. It’s a story of heartbreak and hope, of flowers that bloom after the rain, a love that perhaps, one day, could be.
9. Time After Time — Gunship
An absolutely sublime cover of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time by British synthwave band, Gunship. It’s a dreamy take on an already gorgeous track that any 80s nostalgic will fall in love with.
8. Sunset — The Midnight
A touch more upbeat is this great track by my favourite band, The Midnight. It’s fresh, it’s synth-y, and it’s the perfect soundtrack for a rebellious new adult romance vibe.
7. Do It Again — Trevor Something
I had this one on repeat when I wrote It Starts With A Kiss. With such a great balance of optimism, carefree and oh, this moment means everything, it’s the perfect song to steal a kiss to.
6. Crystal Ships — Michael Oakley
Some definite retro throwbacks with this one. I don’t know about you, but I’m picturing an angsty but wholesome 80s teen drama. Teal, pink and mullets everywhere, and a heartbroken guy in a white suit and wayfarers, crooning to a star-studded sky above a Miami shoreline.
5. Nightcall — Kavinsky
Ryan Gosling fans should recognise this Kavinsky track from Drive (2011). It’s been a staple on my playlists for a while. A dumpy-beat sound as sultry as this creates just the right mood for a dark romance or erotica with a touch of danger.
4. Tangled — Le Flex
More synthpop than synthwave, I’ve been told, but it’s all the same to me when we’re talking sweet, crushy romantic feels. This is a pretty song for hopeful heroines/heroes and their cinnamon roll love interests. In space, of course.
3. Girl — Timecop1983
I wasn’t sure whether to include this one, as the lyrics make me kind of sad. But then again, isn’t that what celebrating nostalgia is all about? I think the best description I’ve ever read of this track went something like this: “a dreamy pop song that dials up the celestial and serves up heaping spoonfuls of uplift.” (source)
2. Your Love (September 87 remix) — Droid Bishop
Beautiful and dreamy. This is the song you’d make out to with your special person as your survival pod enters the gravity well of the nearest habitable planet, the two of you making the most of this quiet time before you’re rockside and searching for your shipmates.
1. Run Away With Me — Moonrunner83
Finally, let’s leave off with this beauty of a track. Now pop your varsity jacket on, hop in my spaceship, and we’ll fly towards the neon sunset. Our HEA awaits us at the edge of the galaxy 😘
Romantic comedies have become a minor obsession of late, and the last couple of years have given me plenty of top notch favourites I’d recommend to anyone (and everyone) who’ll listen.
I’ve left out synopsis links, as I’m sure everyone has their own sources they prefer to use for looking up movies. But a quick Google search on any of these titles will give you enough of a teaser for these great films.
You folks ready for a good night in? Let’s do this!
10. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
This is a grown-up romantic comedy that explores relationships and the reinvention of self that happens after they come to an end. It’s painfully and relatably cringeworthy in parts, which only adds to its endearing qualities. In 2018, GQ confirmed that it does very much “hold up” after a decade. I’d say it’s well on its way to becoming a classic.
Starring: Jason Segel (and his dick), Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Russell Brand, Jonah Hill.
9. Isn’t It Romantic
Rebel Wilson shines in the role of an underappreciated architect who gets knocked unconscious during a mugging, only to wake up and find herself in a real-life romantic comedy. This movie is at once an eye-roll at and a tribute to the genre, offering as many romance feels as send-ups of our favourite tropes.
Starring: Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra, Adam DeVine
8. Friends With Benefits
A great take on the standard friends-to-lovers/FWB storyline. Don’t expect any deviations from the form or formula, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this film won’t be worth your time. What I got from watching was a serve of great characters, powerful chemistry between them, an under-the-skin satisfying HEA, and a movie hangover that lasted for weeks.
Starring: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Patricia Clarkson, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone
7. I Love You, Man
When you need a break from boy-girl love and conflict, but still want the same feel-good vibes, turn your eyes to this bromantic comedy. The setup is a groom-to-be in search for the perfect best man for his wedding. The punchline is a touching hetero boy-meets-boy best-friendship story set against a romantic backdrop.
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Jaime Pressly, Andy Samberg
6. Silver Linings Playbook
Back when I first watched this, I didn’t have the vocabulary to express or even really understand why I liked it. It just struck me as this quirky left-of-centre love story with wholesome feels for people in dark places. Since coming to understand it as a romantic comedy within a mental health context, I’ve liked it even more. This one’s currently on my “to re-watch” list next time I’m down for a lovely night in.
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Chris Tucker
5. The Wedding Singer
Say what you want about Adam Sandler. He was great in this very sweet romantic comedy with Drew Barrymore. I was surprised to learn that there are a lot of younger viewers who don’t know it. I guess it’s a bigger blast from a more distant past than I thought. Wanna know what us silly-headed crush-prone teens found funny in the 90s? Here’s a good example.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore
4. The Big Sick
If you like your romance interwoven with family drama, this thoughtful romcom might be the one for you. Based loosely on the real-life love story between Kumail Nanjani and writer Emily V. Gordon, this is a highly praised indie flick with great inter-cultural notes and exquisitely subtle HEA.
Starring: Kumail Nanjani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano
3. The 40-Year Old Virgin
A hilarious, slightly absurd, and all too endearing comedy a middle-aged man’s hangups about sex, and how they affect his newfound relationship. I would consider this as much about male friendship as it is about romance, but neither theme takes away from the other. It’s a lovely piece of feelgood comedy, well worth watching.
Starring: Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Romany Malco, Catherine Keener
2. Always Be My Maybe
When I first put this on, I was expecting something wacky and run-of-the-mill. After all, that’s the flavour of American comedy I’ve come to associate with the person who recommended this to me. What I got instead was an astonishing gem of a romance infused with sarcasm, adorable cringe moments, and a bit of ridiculousness thrown in.
Starring: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Dae Kim, Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang
1. Long Shot
This movie has been described as a “gender-reversed Pretty Woman”, except the guy is a writer instead of a sex professional. If this isn’t enough to tempt you, know also that the lead characters are very believable and relatable, with great chemistry. This movie is full of tender moments as well as raunchy adult comedy, and of course, an oh so satisfying ending.
I cannot get enough of this song. thru the night </3 by Menend is a steamy freakin’ 18-minute track that somehow keeps the bittersweet heat up all the way through. Have a listen, tell me if you love it too 🔥💗🔥
With my short story, The Induction of Satine, releasing next month, I thought I’d share some character work for the eponymous heroine, Satine Luna.
One of my favourite thinking games is the casting game, where you imagine a beloved book as a movie or tv show, or a beloved movie remade or rebooted, and set up your own cast of actors. I play this game a lot when imagining characters for my stories. Even a very short story like Birdwatchers gets the brain treatment, though to a lesser extent than a novella like Chasing Sisyphus.
I’m currently loving Emma Stone as my model for Satine. She has those sly facial features that would easily typecast her as a thief. I quite like the look of Rhianna, Vivian Hsu and Olivia Wilde as well, for different variations of this character.
Since putting pen to paper, I’ve had a very strong image of her in my head. Red hair, green eyes, smooth skin, lips that taper off in sharp corners on the edges of her mouth. But note, you won’t find a description in this book. I left it out on purpose, because it’s inconsequential to the story. If there are more stories in future, maybe it’ll come up then, but for now, dear reader, Satine is yours to style (assuming I haven’t ruined it for you already).
Entirely through fault of her own, our brainy yet misguided vixen finds herself running with the infamous thieves’ guild, the Night Foxes, stealing trinkets and secrets from rich people. Until one day — no spoilers — she gets caught. That’s where our fun begins.
I wanted to share some inspiration today. Hugh Jackman is one of my favourite badasses. He smashed his training regime for years, staying fit to play Wolverine. And he can sing and dance and act. Watching him makes me feel like I can achieve my goals if I just keep working hard.
Hats off to you, Hugh Jackman.
I’m sure this is obvious, but none of these pictures/videos are mine.