Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Music and the Muse - Wicked Game playlist

A few weeks ago several authors got together (online, of course--it's our usual habitat) and decided to do simultaneous blog posts on the topic of "Music and the Muse," inspired by the article of the same name in a recent issue of RWA's member magazine. We were supposed to show how music intersects with our writing.

I didn't know where to start. All of my contemporary fantasy books are built around music. It's an obsession of mine. So asking me to blog about music and writing is like asking Oliver Stone to blog about the 1960s.

For example, the creation of my first published novel, Requiem for the Devil, was sparked by a performance of Verdi's Requiem. In the book, Lucifer is (among other things) a virtuoso on the piano and violin, and his girlfriend Gianna is the guitarist for a Washington, DC riot grrl band called Public Humiliation. (My friend Greg helped me write the lyrics for their hit, "Dick for Day," the ultimate penis envy song.)

In my upcoming YA novel, Shade, the main character's boyfriend is the frontman for an up-and-coming Celtic-flavored punk band, the Keeley Brothers. When Logan dies and becomes a ghost, his love of music lives on (as does his craving for fame, and hey, who's more famous than a dead rock star?).

Then there are the vampire DJs. The WVMP Radio series was inspired by a song on the radio ("Bad Company," which was the original title for Wicked Game), and music is woven into the text, both in the background and as plot points.

Soooooo, what to blog about? I know! Last week at a book club meeting I received a question that's also been asked in several interviews:

In WICKED GAME, which came first, the playlist or the story?

A bit of background for new visitors (welcome, by the way!): In the front of Wicked Game, you'll find a list of songs called a "Playlist." This is not the kind of playlist you see on a lot of authors' sites, where they share the music that helped inspire the story, or that they listened to while they were writing it, or even that they imagine the characters would love and that would resonate with particular scenes. All of that is extremely cool, but it's not what I did.

The Wicked Game playlist is, rather, a list of songs that are mentioned in the actual text. My publisher asked me to compile it, and I was thrilled at the chance to spotlight some spectacular music.

The cool thing was, in several scenes I hadn't specified a song, only the artist. I might have written that Shane played a Led Zeppelin song on the guitar for Ciara during their romantic platonic picnic. But for the playlist I had to figure out which song would fit the scene and character best ("The Rain Song," which also has the advantage of being very playable on acoustic guitar, according to my husband).

The even cooler thing? I got this request during the copyedit stage, when I still had a chance to go back and change the text. So I actually added a song or two to give some scenes more texture.

For example, in one scene Ciara comes home to find Shane in her apartment, sorting her CDs (it's a thing for him). He's playing one of her (and my) favorite CDs, Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville, and the song in particular, "Flower," fits exactly with the way she feels about him, much to her chagrin. For readers familiar with the song, it adds another layer of subtext and maybe even a wee chuckle. (But I must warn you if you decide to Google the lyrics--they are not for the easily shocked.)

So by giving me the opportunity to share the playlist, my publisher allowed me to add some subtle finishing touches (to "decorate" the story, you might say) with a dab of this or that mood. Readers who want a deeper experience of the book can look up the songs (or better yet, visit the WVMP Music page and listen to the playlist themselves).

Oh, look, here it is, for your enjoyment (but you should still check out the WVMP Music page for the three other playlists. Just sayin'.):

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Other Music & the Muse bloggers:

Bryan Bliss
R.R. Smythe
Marley DeLarose
Tara Kelly
Stephanie Kuehnert
Jennifer Linforth

What does music inspire you to do? Write? Paint? Dance? Kiss? Spend money on more, more, MORE music? Talk to me. I'll be traveling all day Tuesday, but I'll try to respond on Wednesday to any comments.

Now playing: White Zombie - More Human than Human

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Fantastic post, Jeri. I can't wait to check out your playlist, especially the Celtic. So glad we did this!

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 11/24/2009 8:01 AM

Great post!
Of course , like a twelve year old I then had to go read the lyrics to Flower :-)....you are correct - not for the faint of heart but boy does it fit that scene!!
I have found since reading your books and having a playlist that I now love books that weave music into them - it's something I look for now - it adds so much to the story.


Posted by: Blogger Karen at 11/24/2009 10:43 AM

Excellent post, and I love the playlist (specifically the Killers, Cake, nin, and Matthew Sweet songs. I love Helter Skelter too, but like the Crue version a bit better!).
I love music, but I don't put it on when I write because I sing and therefore can't concentrate!

Posted by: Blogger Kelly Polark at 11/24/2009 11:30 AM

I never plan a playlist. But I loved hearing my son's playlists so much that when he left for college I had him make a disc for me to slip into my computer.

Posted by: Blogger Sheila Deeth at 11/24/2009 6:38 PM

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Posted by: Blogger edvin at 1/08/2010 11:20 PM

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 1/09/2010 2:14 AM

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