I like to write in silence. No music, thank you. No conversation, either. No phones ringing, tv noises from nearby rooms or interruptions of any kind that might draw me out of whichever world I’m working in. Mmm, silence.
But I do use music when I’m planning a story. Particularly when I’m getting to meet new characters or digging deeper into characters I already know. It helps set the mood, which guides the tone, and that’s important to me so I always spend time choosing the perfect music for each story – and often for each main character. Once that’s settled, I immerse myself in it throughout the early stages of creation and planning. And when I’m writing I often listen to a character’s theme music before starting a scene.
BEAUTY AND THE BASTARD’s theme music was all about the fallen angel Saul at first, but Jeffrey Luck Lucas’s album What We Whisper swelled until it filled the whole story with its exquisite neo-noir atmosphere of courage and duty in the face of overwhelming personal sadness.
THE WEAVERFIELDS HEIR was more complicated. The story follows several generations of a strangely gifted family and zooms in on creative individuals, so the choice of theme music was wide open. In the end I decided on Greig’s Piano Concerto in A Minor. Yes, the whole concerto. You’ll see why when you read it. It’ll be out on the 1st April. That’s two weeks this Friday! 🙂
Now we come to the WILD TIMES series, and the theme music issue got simple again when I planned QUARTER SQUARE (release date 27th June from Carina Press). Min’s a working jazz singer, so while getting to know her I listened to lots of jazz standards. Joe’s a carpenter who sings Led Zeppelin numbers while he works. His LedZep repertoire is my repertoire, actually, but he’s younger than me so I added The Parlor Mob to his favourites.
I’m planning WILD TIMES Book 2 now. At the start of GOLDEN TRIANGLE Joe and Min have both grown from who, what and where they were at the beginning of QUARTER SQUARE, and their theme songs reflect that.
Joe’s music is bad boy John Mayer’s Edge of Desire. Close your eyes while you listen to this and you’ll see Joe on his powerful motorbike, leading the pack along lonely roads from town to town as they try to stay one step ahead of the government authorities hunting them. Hear his pain when he sings the most powerful line I’ve heard in years: “I want you so bad I’ll go back on the things I believe.”
Min’s music is painful too. She’s torn between protecting Joe the only way she knows how (which is running and hiding) and accepting his right to do what he thinks is best, even though she’s convinced that by confronting his fears he will suffer yet another early death and she can’t bear to lose him again. All she wants is to be with him, but what she loves most about him is the very thing threatening to destroy him. She’s in agony. Her song is Melody Gardot’s My One and Only Thrill.
Do your favourite characters have theme songs?