"I started wondering if the Wenches had songs that influenced their writing or got that little light bulb blinking. And do they listen to music while writing or are they like me and find music distracting when trying to write?”
Well, for me the answer to the second question is no. I’m with you, Kay. I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I’m writing because it does distract me. It’s one of those rare occasions when I can’t multi-task; to listen and to write simultaneously is beyond me. Sometimes I can have classical or instrumental music playing as a backdrop to my writing. A bit of Beethoven or Tchaikovsky can be pretty romantic and inspiring at appropriate moments. But generally not, and I'd be interested to hear which of the other wenches can write with the music playing.
So back to the first question, to which the answer is yes! For years I have found inspiration for plot, setting and characters in the lyrics of certain songs and I know I’m not alone. I remember another historical author commenting once on why rock music inspired her when she was writing medieval romance. Her band of choice was Bon Jovi. She drew my attention to the parallels between the driving beat of the music and the way in which the story pushed forward. Her plots were full of the pulsating masculine energy you see in programmes like The Tudors and hear in songs like You Give Love a Bad Name.
I think that sharing the musical inspiration behind books can be quite revealing of an author (not least in admitting to a taste in music other might not share!) but I’m willing to risk it here amongst friends. So here are a few examples of where songs have inspired my own writing, and then I would love people to share their own favorites with me.
For me it all started a few years ago when I wrote a book for Harlequin Historicals called The Earl’s Prize. The theme of the book was gambling and the theme tune of the hero and his clique of gambling cronies was Ace of Spades by Motorhead. Sometimes I think a few lines of lyrics can completely encapsulate a theme or a character:
“If you like to gamble, I tell you I'm your man, You win some, lose some, it's all the same to me. The pleasure is to play…”
This seemed to me perfectly to sum up the gambling addiciton of such historical figures as Lord Foley, Lord Alvanley and Richard Barry, 7th Earl of Barrymore.
My second book for HQN was called Lord of Scandal and was about a hero, Ben Hawksmoor, who had created a “celebrity” persona for himself out of the ashes of a disastrous, poverty-stricken childhood. Despite his glittering lifestyle he was essentially a solitary figure and the lyrics of Robbie Williams’ song “Feel” were particularly appropriate for him, especially in his attitude towards women:
"Before I fall in love, I'm preparing to leave her. I scare myself to death. That's why I keep on running..."
There is a very melancholy tone in the song as well, which I felt was perfect for Ben's "real" life as opposed to the artificial one he had created.
Nowadays I'm so taken with the idea of a soundtrack for a book that with my Brides of Fortune series this summer I created an entire playlist, with themes tunes for the heroes and heroines including Sunday Girl by Blondie for Alice, the heroine of The Scandals of an Innocent (“cold as ice cream but still as sweet”) and Real Wild Child by Iggy Pop for Lizzie in The Undoing of a Lady (self-explanatory) plus an overall theme, which was A Little Less Conversation by Elvis Presley: “A little less conversation, a little more action, please.” That wasn't so much a complaint by either the heroes or the heroines on their love life, but more a reflection on my procrastination when it comes to sitting down and appying myself to writing!
But if song lyrics can sum up a character or an idea in a few words I think they are also very evocative for background and setting. My next book, Whisper of Scandal, is set in the Arctic and there are quite a few songs that capture the mood perfectly: Through the Dark, by KT Tunstall, Starlight by Muse, even Bones by The Killers. Then there is Northern Lights by Renaissance: "The Northern Lights are in my mind, they guide me back to you..."
So now I’d like to ask: If you are a writer, what are the songs that inspire you? And if you are a reader do you ever read a book that suggests a particular song or piece of music to you? I’m looking forward to hearing your choices and I’m giving away a backlist book to one commenter today in celebration of the music!