Do I have a soundtrack or playlist for my novels?
I don’t write to music. I used to, many years ago, but there came a point where I found the music too distracting in the background, so I now write surrounded by silence, other than the ambient noises and Jake the Cat’s occasional demand for attention.
I find music immensely inspiring and I love to go for long drives on the Southern California freeways with the music turned up loud and contemplate plot challenges. At various times in the old day job I had long commutes to make and I got used to doing some of my most complex plot problem solving during those otherwise boring drives. (I find driving on the freeways is mostly routine but every now and then there’s a CRISIS and you’d better be able to respond fast. There was also the time I got trapped on the freeway by a brushfire, surrounding several other cars and mine, and I was right next to a gasoline tanker…CHP thankfully got us out of there…and we won’t discuss the wreck I had in 1982 where I rolled the car three times…thank goodness for seat belts! I wasn’t worrying over plots when that happened – I’d just decided to find another job, came around a curve and oh my, all the traffic was stopped while here I was going ummm perhaps a bit north of the posted speed…)
I also enjoy listening to music on my old ipod. I’ve got hundreds of my favorite songs on endless replay and I just let the melodies flow. Pretty soon I’m not really hearing the songs because I’m in the zone and the ideas are swarming.
My playlist ranges from golden oldies to rock to show tunes to bagpipes to country, with a lot of stuff in between. Sometimes a certain song will inspire a plot point or will remind me of a character or a situation. The connections probably wouldn’t be obvious to anyone but me and my Muse though! I tried to come up with a good example for this post and the explanation got very convoluted. Which is the way my creative mind works!
One of my favorite novellas from my backlist is STAR CRUISE: SONGBIRD, which was my scifi rock star romance and even for that one I didn't have a soundtrack. Here's an excerpt from the first concert in the story:
The show was already going on at full volume. Karissa’s was the final set of the evening and when she ran onstage, her dancers bouncing and doing acrobatics around her, the roar was astounding. Grant stood in the wings, as close to the stage as he could, and watched the performance. Karissa strutted, she danced, she teased, she brought a child on stage for a brief chat, she sang full throated. The crowd loved it all. He had a hard time keeping his eye on the audience, watching for problems, because she was so riveting.
“First time at a show?” asked an older woman standing next to him. “This is nothing compared to what she’ll do at the big concert on Calillia next week. There’ll be multiple costume changes and aerial components. And maybe some new songs, although she’s been quiet about her songwriting lately. She doesn’t want Ted getting the rights to any more of her stuff if she can help it. Things are unfixably sour between them now.” She laughed self-consciously and held out her hand. “I’m Desdusan, by the way, her chief makeup artist. Chief busybody too. I try to look out for her as much as I can. Been with Karissa for nine years, ever since she hit the bigtime with ‘Twisted Comets’. She’ll probably sing that for the encore.”
“I hate to admit it but I’ve never heard her music before—it’s all new to me,” he said as they shook.
The woman did a double take. “You’re kidding, right? You’re probably the only person in the Sectors who hasn’t heard at least one Karissa song.”
“I have now,” he pointed out, annoyed to feel so defensive.