While I don’t listen to music while I write, I definitely find inspiration in certain tunes.Very often I’ll hear a song and think that it fits a certain character’s personality, or that it stands as a good mood setter for the book in general. If a song resonates deeply with me it can even serve as a tool to help fill in backstory for a character.
NOT A DROP TO DRINK has a rather varied playlist. The first example will help illuminate a character that some readers might find hard to connect with. Mother is the only human Lynn has even spoken to, and Mother’s entire life revolves around teaching her daughter to survive – no matter what. She’s a feral mother, a no-holds-barred guardian of her young. The song Rocks & Water by Deb Talan set me back the first time I caught it on Pandora. The refrain particularly applies to Mother:
I will be rocks, I will be water
I will leave this to my daughter:
Lift your head up in the wind
When you feel yourself grow colder
Wrap the night around your shoulders
And I will be with you even then
Even when I cannot see your face anymore.
Another song I want to mention in connection with NOT A DROP TO DRINK is Thistle & Weeds by Mumford & Sons. So much about this song fits my story. The imagery is bleak, there’s a not-so-subtle plea for rain throughout, along with the allusion to bullets falling from the sky- something Lynn herself has been the source of for more than a few thirsty travelers over the years. But hope is also threaded throughout the song, a feeling that redemption might be out of reach right now, but won’t be forever. These lyrics in particular grabbed me the first time I heard it:
Look over your hills and be still
The sky above us shoots to kill
Rain down, rain down on me
But I will hold on, I will hold on…
And lastly I want to mention a song that fellow 2k13 member Lydia Kang associates with her book as well. Waiting For The End by Linkin Park has a very defiant feel to it, something that Lynn understands perfectly. She spends everyday assuming that she could die any minute. She controls every element of her life that she can, but her world is a violent one, and no one knows what the next day will bring.
Waiting for the end to come
Wishing I had strength to stand
This is not what I had planned
It’s out of my control.
These three songs together do a great job of painting both the setting for my book and the personalities of two of the main female characters, Lynn & Mother. I hope that hearing them gets you in the mood to try out my book!
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IN A HANDFUL OF DUST didn't lend itself easily to music at first. Nothing I heard made me go, "Oh yeah, that's DUST music right there." At the time I was writing it, I was searching for new bands to listen to. I discovered Pandora and quickly found some songs that fit perfectly.
Wide Open Plain by Doug Paisley is a great example. So much of the music for DUST would have to be sentimental in nature, while still with a feeling of hope on the horizon and a sense of moving forward. This verse in particular does a great job of examining both the harder nature of an adult Lynn who has lived a harsh life, and the more optimistic tendencies of teenage Lucy, moving towards her future.
Oh they come to me
One by one
in the little time remains
I felt the sting of
deeds I'd done
by which I'd hoped to gain
The melody of
the songs unsung are
drawn out slow with pain
and swelled beyond
on the wide open plain
The endless road is a huge part of the storyline for IN A HANDFUL OF DUST. As Lynn and Lucy travel away from home, with no definite destination their spirits are heavy. The song Long Time Traveller from The Wailin' Jennys exemplifies this really well.
I'm a long time travelling here below
I'm a long time travelling away from home
I'm a long time travelling here below
To lay this body down
Lastly, as Lynn and Lucy travel in search of a new home they both learn a lot about themselves. For Lucy in particular the question of what she wants for her future is a main theme in the book. As always, Lynn knows that she's there for Lucy, no matter what her decision is. The Salvation Song from The Avett Brothers applies to both of them.
We came for salvation
We came for family
We came for all that's good that's how we'll walk away
We came to break the bad
We came to cheer the sad
We came to leave behind the world a better way
And as far as breaking the bad... well, you'll just have to wait until September 23rd. ;) You can preorder IN A HANDFUL OF DUST here!