Music inspires my writing, takes my mind off household chores and accompanies me in my car every day. It’s an important part of my life. So, no surprise, I make music part of the lives of the characters in my books. It can set a scene, illustrate who the character is and, I hope, connect emotionally with the reader.
Each book in my Second Chances series has a playlist I’ve used for inspiration or atmosphere while I write the story. Sometimes the music is specifically mentioned in the book or reflects the mood of a scene. Often it is by a local or regional group or artist I think my character would like.
Occasionally, a piece becomes so attached to a character that long afterward, when I hear the music, it’s that character’s experience I remember before my own association with the song surfaces. In my first book, “Beginning Again,” for example, the playlist contained mostly the golden oldies Liz Fairchild, the heroine, loved. I have a couple of the songs from her playlist on the one I listen to when I’m working on my art glass and, I swear, every time Linda Ronstadt sings, “When Will I Be Loved,” Liz joins me in my workshop.
The playlist for the second book in the series is more evenly split between the man and woman. “Loving Again,” which will be released by Crimson Romance on November 12th, (we have now reached the marketing part of the blog entry) is the story of a glass artist and a police detective. For artist Amanda St. Claire I combined the classic cello music and Nora Jones she plays at home with the Jimmy Buffett her studio mate loves to play in their shared work space. And I also included her local favorites Tom Grant and Pink Martini.
But it was with the hero I had the most fun. Sam Richardson was born and raised on a ranch in Eastern Oregon and moved to the city, where he joined the Portland Police Bureau. Sounds like a Tim McGraw/Taylor Swift/Kenny Chesney kinda guy, right? Wrong. Sam grew up with classical music, thanks to his mother, a classically trained pianist, and he has season tickets to the Oregon symphony. When he visits Amanda in Seattle to convince her to return to Portland, he puts a Chopin nocturne CD on for her. (If you’re a classical music geek, you’ll recognize that the theme from his selection was turned into a popular song that contains a variation of the book title.)
But also on the playlist is an indie rock piece “Tell Me Why,” written by the very real Portland Chief of Police Mike Reese and performed by The Usual Suspects, a group made up of current and former Portland Police Bureau members, including Chief Reese. I figured even fictional police officers would want to keep on the good side of the actual Chief of Police.
Take a look at Sam and Amanda’s playlist from “Loving Again.” And in the comment section, tell me what role music plays in your life.
Bach Cello Concerto #1–Yo Yo Ma
Boats to Build– Jimmy Buffett
Chopin Nocturne #2–Ivan Moravec
Chopin Nocturne #4–Ivan Moravec
Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue–Leonard Bernstein
Gold– Tom Grant
He Heals Me–India.Arie
I Don’t Know–Lisa Hannigan
In the Morning–Nora Jones
Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love–Pink Martini
Never Say Never– Tom Grant
Splendor in the Grass–Pink Martini
Talk to Me Nice–Tom Grant
Trip Around the Sun–Jimmy Buffett