Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Music as Muse

Photo from
Years ago, back when I first started writing a novel, I had the idea to create a book soundtrack, similar to a movie soundtrack, that a reader could listen to while reading a book. I wanted to include songs that influenced the author or fit the section or chapter. It was a way to connect with the author's creative experience on an entirely different level.

This was 1996, and there were no iPods or even mp3 players yet, so I was talking about a CD version. Ancient history.  Now, the soundtrack is not only possible, it's on my blog! If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, you can see the exact songs I listened to and still use when I work on Between Souls.

I know I'm not the first to use music as muse, as evidenced by the recent post on Music Mamas by Allison Winn Scotch, author of The One That I Want and other delightful books. The title of her book may awaken thoughts of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta  - not necessarily a bad thing, but not the mood created by her playlist, and I completely understand.

For me, the playlist was what I used to get in the rhythm of my screenplay.

It reminded me of the darker themes and kept me from getting off track after taking a break. I could turn on the songs, read over the last page or so, and jump right back in where I was. So here is the explanation of the songs and where they take me when I write. I'll be using them later today, as I am way behind on my edits this week!

#1 - Looking Up by Paramore from Brand New Eyes
#9 - Miracle by Paramore from Riot!
#13  - Where The Lines Overlap by Paramore from Brand New Eyes
#16 - When It Rains by Paramore from Riot!
#18 - Let the Flames Begin by Paramore from Riot!
I have loved Paramore since I downloaded Riot! in 2007. Hayley Williams' voice is Lucie's in the screenplay, full of the conflict between young optimism and edgy pessimism. With five songs on my list, Paramore reminds me of what I want Lucie to become.

#2 - I Don't Believe You by P!nk from Funhouse (Deluxe Version)
#25 - Glitter In the Air by P!nk from Funhouse (Deluxe Version)
When I was in the early stages of plotting the movie, I was getting ready to go out and put too much eyeshadow on my brush. I blew the excess off, and the tiny glittery pieces danced in the sunlight in my bathroom. I stopped and just watched them fall slowly to the counter. That is the image in my mind when Lucie travels back in time. I adore the gritty sound that P!nk brings to every song, and when I listened to "Glitter In the Air," it brought me back to that eyeshadow moment - it had to be included.

#3 - Mirror by BarlowGirl from BarlowGirl
#5 - Superstar by BarlowGirl from BarlowGirl
Each year I put together a slide show with music for the Odyssey of the Mind teams, and I try to find songs that go with the photos. Two years ago I found "Superstar" by BarlowGirl and I've been going back to it ever since. These songs make me think of Rebecca, Lucie's best friend.

#4 - Give Me a Sign by Breaking Benjamin from Dear Agony
I was driving one day, thinking of how to write the pivotal scene when Lucie realizes she can travel to her past lives, and I heard this song by Breaking Benjamin. The lines, "Give me a sign/Come back to the end/The shepherd of the damned," fit right in with the revelations Lucie has.

#6 - Lithium by Evanescence from The Open Door
#10 -  Everybody's Fool by Evanescence from Fallen [Bonus Track] 
#14 - Sweet Sacrifice by Evanescence from The Open Door 
Amy Lee has a voice that pulls me in with every song she sings. When I'm not listening to Haley Williams from Paramore, Amy from Evanescence becomes Lucie. I picture "Everybody's Fool" playing in the background when Lucie reads Rebecca's note at the very end and it reminds me to keep the mystery going as long as possible for the best effect in the final scene.

The other songs on the list are either personal favorites this summer or good background noise. I don't always listen to the lyrics - some just have great rhythms that keep me going when I start to get tired.

So that's the list - probably more than you every wanted to know about what triggers my writing. And maybe someday I'll realize my dream of a book soundtrack. But for now, the iTunes playlist will have to do.

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