Name that Tune
I’ve seen a lot of authors lately posting their “playlists” from books. There was even a joke the other day on Twitter about how often “Running Up That Hill” (the Placebo cover of the Kate Bush song) is used for paranormal romance playlists.
A question I’ve been asked a lot in interviews is what I’d listened to while writing, or if I need music to write. So it got my thinking… what role does music play in the writing process? I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me the part music plays is twofold: background, and inspiration.
When I write I usually have to be connected to my iPod. Sometimes I’ll write with a specific playlist in mind. For Deep Dark Secret I listened to a lot of Alkaline Trio to get myself in a dark, moody headspace. For Keeping Secret it was a mixed bag of everything from Florence and the Machine (my go-to writing music) to The Flaming Lips. The key purpose of background music is just to get you in a mindset to help focus on writing. It isn’t obnoxious and it doesn’t take you out of the process.
Some scenes require something a little extra, a specific song to get the mood just right. In those instances I will listen to a single song on a loop until I’m finished writing the scene. “Drumming” by Florence and the Machine was a go-to sex scene writing song in A Bloody Good Secret, and in Keeping Secret my big “theme” songs were: “Howl” also by Florence and the Machine for a key scene with Secret and the southern pack; “Someone Like You” by Adele for another big emotional scene, and lastly “I Should Have Known” by the Foo Fighters for the big shocker conclusion. I’m sure I could have written the scenes without the music, but honestly, sometimes to song fits the scene so perfectly it would be like taking the music out of a movie.
Sometimes the music even shapes what’s to come. As I’ve mentioned a few times, Florence and the Machine is big for me with writing, so when I heard “Seven Devils” I immediately knew I’d be listening to it on a loop while writing book 8… some time in 2014.
I’m really terrible at keeping track of songs that I would consider my “playlist” which is why I never post them, but I’m trying to remedy this for Grave Secret and I’m keeping a list. Not to scare anyone but so far the Johnny Cash cover of “Hurt” and Sia’s “Breathe Me” both show up.
Do readers think about music in key scenes too? How much are you impacted by author playlists?
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