It’s not really a secret that I love music. Music is really important to me and my process when I write a book. First, I get interrupted. A LOT. I used to pick up a book, write it, edit it and turn it in. Now I start to write, get edits on another book, finish those, get cover and blurb worksheets for another book, go back to the book, have to do something else and come back – so a soundtrack enables me to create a mood both for the book itself and for me so I can slip back into the proper state of mind when I get back to it.
Right now, I’m writing the third Petal book, COUNT ON ME. When I start out on a book, I usually listen to iTunes on shuffle and slowly pull a tracklist together as I go. Sometimes I pull out songs for other books I’ll be writing after that one too. I have a basic idea of the feel when I start out and I know, since I’ve written 2 other Petal books and 4 other Chase books set in that same town, that the tracklist will have a lot of country music on it.
I don’t listen to a whole lot of country music, though I grew up listening to it – my mom is a huge country western fan – I still know the words to a whole lot of Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, George Jones and Dolly Parton songs. But I do have some favorites so that’s where I started with this particular book.
Caroline, the heroine, grew up in Petal but after a tragedy she moved to Los Angeles to live with relatives. So I started out with Dixie Chicks The Long Way Around and went from there. Royal Watson, the hero, is a rancher. A bit of bad boy and good ol’ boy on the outside but a big heart and a deep dedication to protecting those he loves. I added Kings of Leon’s Beautiful War. And as I kept writing I added Brantley Gilbert’s My Kind of Crazy and as I got to know Royal better, I found he had a vein of Luke Bryan songs inside him. And it fits with how Caroline sees him too.
In fact, their song is Crash My Party
Caroline is strong and she knows what she wants and what she believes in. But she’s vulnerable too – she’s a Miranda Lambert kind of woman. I threw in some Oklahoma Sky (honestly such a perfect song) and Look At Miss Ohio, but the song I think of as “Caroline’s” is Safe. She learns over the course of the book that she can rely on Royal in a way she can with very few others. She can be soft with him.
I’m still writing and as I do, I’ll continue to add songs to the tracklist. Even after I turn the book in, I’ll be editing it not too very long after and it’ll come when I’m busy at work on Ezra’s book, Broken Open – which is so dark and I’ve already added the first few songs – Nine Inch Nails’ Various Methods of Escape
Queens of the Stone Age – I Appear Missing
Music, for me, creates a mood and a theme that helps me stay on task and enables me to fall into that story and those characters’ voices better than most any other thing.