Playlists and music and inspiration and all that jazz

I’m working on Running Wild and having a blast–I do love Ms. Star–but I remembered I sort of promised myself that I’d try to do a weekly blog.  While I’m writing this, and while I’m playing with Running Wild–working, I meant working!–I’ve got a playlist going.  I create one with every book, usually starting with some song or other than I hear and say “That’s it!  That’s exactly how xxxxx feels about xxxxx.”  Or “That’s how xxxxxx feels when xxxxxx says/does xxxxxx.”  Ok, I don’t think in terms of x’s but you get my drift.

Occasionally a song so strongly inspires me, that it basically creates a character or scene. This happened with my character Gabe Keller in a book that is many months off. John Mayer’s “Half of my Heart”–even the video of that yelled “this is Gabe”. Sometimes the song will bring a scene clearly into focus. That happened with Phil Collins “Against all Odds” and the Dark Moment in upcoming (this fall, I believe) Shadows of the Soul. Sometimes I can feel an artist or band key in on a character, in terms of voice, style, etc. I feel that with Toby Keith when it comes to Rick Winchester, Barenaked Ladies for Lee Montgomery (I can see him smile at just the name) and for Ms. Star, Shania Twain, all the way. That doesn’t mean I’ll have a lot of this music on the playlist, it just means when I’m doing other things, if I hear the artist, my brain goes straight to that character.

Most of the time, though, a song will speak to the whole atmosphere of the book–I hesitate to say “theme”, it feels so Literature-ish–or how one or both of the characters feel. Generally the longer I’ve worked on a book, the more songs I’ll have. Often a song will translate from one story to another or even two others, because some of the emotions are similar.

Anyway, I’ve got Hal Kethchum’s “Hearts are Gonna Roll” right now for Star. For anybody who’s read The Wild Half, here’s that playlist–note, no Toby Keith but there’s no way I can hear songs like Less Talk and a Little More Action and I Should’ve Been a Cowboy and not picture Rick.

You’re all I have, Snow Patrol—this is how both character come to feel at certain points.

What’s Love Got to do with It, Tina Turner—this is Lilah.  Pretty much every single word explains her attraction to Rick and how she really wants to ignore what lies underneath : “You must understand though the touch of your hand makes my pulse react, that it’s only the thrill of boy meeting girl, opposites attract, it’s physical, only logical.”

What’s Left of Me, Nick Lachey–This is Rick, and a reminder of me when writing that no matter how he appeared all golden-boy arrogance on the surface, inside he’s kind of a mess.  “Now I’m broken, and I’m faded, I’m half the man I thought I would be, but you can have what’s left of me”  At a certain point, it kills (emotionally) Rick that this is all he thinks he can give Lilah.

To Make You Feel My Love, Garth Brooks (originally Bob Dylan, though).  No romance can be a true romance novel without love, deep, you-are-everything love.  For this book, this song did it for me–in Rick’s point of view

Savin’ Me, Nickleback–this is quintessentially the bad-boy, tortured hero song.  “Prison gates won’t open up for me, on these hands and knees I’m crawling. . .show me what it’s like (to be the last one standin’), and teach me wrong from right (and I’ll show you waht I can be), And say it for me, say it to me and I’ll leave this life behind me, say it if it’s worth savin’ me.”  Seriously, I’ve never written a tortured-hero that this didn’t apply to.

Linger, The Cranberries–For me, this came mostly in the latter parts of the book.  It’s Lilah’s jealousy and how she is hopelessly stuck in a relationship that can’t do anything but hurt her.  “Were you lying all the time, was it just a game to you, but I’m in so deep, you know I’m such a fool for you, you’ve got me wrapped around your finger, do you have to let it linger?”

Human, The Pretenders–Lilah again, this speaks to how she appears to everybody, even Rick as cool, composed, unaffected, when inside she’s barely in control.  I love the lines, “I play a good game, but not as good as you. . . I had you fooled enough to take me on. . .If love was a war, it’s you who has won, while I was confessing it, you held your tongue.”

Addicted to Love, Robert Palmer–Lilah and her hopeless fight against her sexual attraction to Rick, “You’re mine, and not you’re own, your heart sweats, your body shakes, another kiss is what it takes, you can’t sleep, you can’t eat. . .whoooa, you like to think that you’re immune to this stuff, but closer to the truth is that you can’t get enough”

(Everything I do), I Do It for You, Bryan Adams–another love song, but in this one the words “Don’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for, you can’t tell me it’s not worth dyin’ for.” hit me pretty strongly while working on the book.

Lover in a Dangerous Time, Barenaked Ladies–pretty much self-explanatory.

Hopefully next week I’ll have time to put up the playlist for The Wild One.

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