Today, I thought I’d talk about music. More specifically, I thought I’d talk about which songs helped inspire certain stories or characters.
Not all of my stories have musical inspiration. (Blind Space, for example, has no songs associated with it.) Some of them (like Shotgun) have full soundtracks. In a few rare case, a book might be based on a single line. Song of Oestend was written because of this line in “Doolin-Dalton/Desperado Reprise” by the Eagles: “Four men ride out and only three ride back.” (Although by the time I got to that scene in the book, it was two men riding out, and only one riding back. But I digress.)
Most often, I have one specific song that either inspired the entire tone of the book, or worked as the theme song for a specific character. So, without further ado, let’s get to it. (And cross your fingers with me that these embedded Spotify codes work.)
I know, everybody makes fun of Nickelback. To be honest, this is the one and only song of theirs I know. I have no idea how I stumbled across it or how it ended up on my playlist. But somewhere between the first draft of Promises (which was only about 30k) and the finished product, I heard this song, and it became the anthem for the entire book. This is very much Matt’s song.
A to Z actually has several songs, but this is the one that still, all these years later, immediately brings Zach and Angelo to mind for me. It’s all about that moment when you realize you’re falling for somebody.
I love, love, LOVE Tristan Prettyman. I own every one of her albums and anxiously await the next one. I’ve used several of her songs over the years, but this was the one that felt the most critical to the entire outcome of a book. It’s very much the backbone of Between Sinners and Saints.
It’s all about that somber tone, and these lines:
What you’re thinking
When you’re lying in your bed late at night.
Trying to keep so still.
My heart is pounding,
And it’s trying just to keep up with the time.
You are not mine.
Release didn’t have a song, but Return did. It’s a bit odd that Kate Voegele has two songs on my list here when I don’t actually listen to her all that often, but sometimes that’s how it goes. It’s also a bit odd that such a modern song can tie so perfectly into such an odd book, but it really worked for me.
If you haven’t heard this song, you’ve obviously been living under a rock. My daughter introduced me to this song, and it ended up being the anthem for Winter Oranges.
In most cases, a reader might not see exactly how a song inspired the book, but in this case, it’s pretty obvious. Damned If You Do happened one day in the car, when this song came on the radio. I started wondering what might happen if the devil became a bit obsessed with Johnny after that first encounter. I imagined him going back again and again, not so much because he wanted Johnny’s soul, but because he simply couldn’t stay away. Throw in a hippy tent revival and lots of snakes, and Damned If You Do was born.