Before I delve into this week's blog post proper, I have some amazing news: the official results of Metamorph Publishing's Summer Indie Book Awards are in! I'm proud to announce that From the Desk of Buster Heywood ultimately won 2nd place in the Thriller category! My sincere thanks to each and every one of you who voted ... I couldn't have done it without you!
Music is always an integral part of my writing ... I construct a soundtrack for each novel as I go along, with a little help from music cloud sites like Pandora and Google Play. They help me set a mood, and then as I refine the novel, I also refine the list, choosing songs to fit characters and scenes. Last year, I shared my list for From the Desk of Buster Heywood, so it seemed only fitting to celebrate In The Cards' release with its own soundtrack. If you haven't yet grabbed a copy, it's $0.99 on Kindle until September 25th! The reviews on Amazon are already phenomenal... but you're here for the music. Go ahead, punch play and follow along ...
1. Fall Out Boy - Fourth of July
This is one of my favorite songs for Ral, and his failed relationship with Natalie. He can't deny that he's still attracted to her, and there are a lot of regrets ... but there's a lot of anger surrounding how it all ended, too.
2. Nina Gordon - Horses In The City
A great, lovely, lonely song that captures Beatrice's mood on her first few weeks in Aviario perfectly.
3. The Bangles - Walk Like An Egyptian
This has been June's theme for many, many years, ever since I came up with the concept of a perky goth with a love for all things 1980s. It's what's playing in the Balefires the first time Beatrice sets foot inside.
4. John Mellencamp - Small Town
This is the Weldyns' theme, and the perfect music for writing Ral's visit to their house for dinner and conversation. I have always had this song as part of a generic Aviario playlist, and it's likely to stay there.
5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Messiah Ward
The Bad Seeds are my go-to music for writing Dr. Feistus in any stripe, but this serves his therapy sessions with Troy almost too well.
6. Oingo Boingo - No One Lives Forever (Live, Farewell Tour)
Dr. Jon Knight is filled, heart and soul, with the essence of Danny Elfman in the '80s. It's only fitting that this is what he's rocking out to when Sam comes to visit him in the morgue.
7. Peter Gabriel - Sky Blue
I had this song on loop while writing Beatrice's visit to Louise's house. For me, it has always been a song connected with magic and serenity.
8. Christophe Beck - Suite from Restless
Ral's nightmare about his initiation was inspired by this piece from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, and as such it was constantly playing as I wrote. It captures the sacred, ancient nature of the ritual along with the frenzied, wild panic which ensues as it all begins to go wrong.
9. Rasputina - The Olde Headboard
Melora Creager's violin-infused goth rock is my go-to music for writing Natalie ... her signature tune is "Things That I'm Gonna Do", but this one seemed to fit a little more with what happens to her during In The Cards. I put this one on while writing her breakfast date with Ral at Somethin' Brewin'.
10. Peter Gabriel - Cloudless
A song without words for the loss of a lovely character.
11. John Fogerty - Premonition
I was at a loss for any music for Troy until I heard this gem. It has a rustic soul like Troy's, and ties down into everything that's plaguing him by the time the plot really begins to gain ground.
12. Collective Soul - Where The River Flows
I wrote Troy's premonition at the bank of the Housatonic to Peter Gabriel's "Red Rain", but Pandora fed me this song one day while I was editing, and it seemed so much more gritty and visceral. (Besides, this was already a pretty Gabriel-heavy soundtrack.)
13. Florence & the Machine - Shake It Out
Ral lets go of his hang-ups, and it's about damn time.
14. Team Fat - Funky Tubes
What better music for the novel's final confrontation than a piece from something that inspired it all?
15. Cher - Heart of Stone
Just because Ral's decided what's best doesn't mean he's happy about it. I wrote his visit to St. Dymphna's with this playing ... in fact, it was the very first song I ever chose for him.
16. MGMT - Kids
As all-out terrifying and trippy as the video for this song may be, its bouncy, upbeat tune is a perfect match for the Fire Gang's gathering at Madie's in the final chapter.
17. The Rolling Stones - You Can't Always Get What You Want
It may be a little cliche, as final songs go, but I can't think of a better fit for Troy's last few moments on the page ... and for the man who sets him on the next branch of his path.
BONUS: Linkin Park - Waiting For The End
Heart of Stone may have been Ral's first song, but this was the song that helped me really get under his skin and connect with him. It got me through a very difficult part of my life, and I tapped into that to find his feelings and his thoughts about his uncle, Duncan. I'd be doing both of us a disservice if I didn't give it some form of mention.
That's all for this week, folks! I hope you enjoy the soundtrack and will come back next week, when I'll have a review of indie author L.M. Bryski's spectacular debut novel, Book of Birds! Until then, I remain your hostess,
A little over a year ago, I shared a short version of the playlist I used while writing From the Desk of Buster Heywood, but none of the actual music. Now that the book's been released, I thought it would be fun to revisit that list and give some of the stories behind the songs: liner notes to the soundtrack, as it were. I've created a playlist on YouTube, so if you feel like coming along with me for a 22-song ride, check it out ...
1. "The Little Things" by Danny Elfman.
Oh, Buster, you've come so far. This video is made from clips of James Urbaniak's minor villain role in a show called "Kidnapped" ... which inspired our hero, truth be told. Buster was never as horrid as his assassin counterpart, but the clean-cut, skinny man in a suit with wide eyes and just a touch of badass was firmly embedded in my mind. Add in my favorite musician, and, well, you might as well call this Buster's theme for the second half of the book.
2. "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega.
Earworm it may be, but this is the scene I wrote Chapter One to. Buster has a fantastic habit of people-watching, and what better background music than a song about the very same?
3. "Working Class Hero" by John Lennon
I doubt I need to add much here, since this classic speaks for itself... and for Buster, too...
4. "The Arrivals Gate" by Ani DiFranco.
Another people-watching song! The frenetic, bubbly energy of this one made it a perfect fit for Buster's lunch date with his older sister Dee, and their reunion in Grand Central Station.
5. "Tidal Wave" by Owl City.
The moment I heard this song for the first time, I knew exactly where our hero would wind up by the end of the book. I wrote the entire last chapter with this one pretty much on loop.
6. "Everything is Alright" by Motion City Soundtrack.
If I had to choose a scene or two to pair this with, it would be Buster's walks with his friend Cam: it's upbeat, but the lyrics are the counterpoint to it all, and fit how much he's floundering to keep his head above water once everything starts going sour.
7. "The Loner" by Neil Young.
Easy stuff: this is the song playing in Chapter Three when Buster enters Charlie's Bar.
8. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears.
... and this is the song playing in the Bar when he realizes what he's left behind at work ...
9. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Lorde.
... and this is what it morphs into as he has to go back and retrieve it. It was such a flawless and perfect choice for the little movie in my mind.
10. "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" by Porcupine Tree.
This was my background for writing Buster's ride back from New York in Chapter Eleven.
11. "Wrong" by Depeche Mode.
In a perfect world, this song would automatically start playing for every reader at the start of Chapter Fifteen. The scene spooled itself out in my head perfectly the moment a dear friend played it for me. "I thought of Buster," she said ... and the book is infinitely better for it.
12. "Exile Vilify" by The National.
I don't really have a specific spot in mind for this, but both the sound and the lyrics fit Buster so very well.
13. "Big Casino" by Jimmy Eat World.
This is Buster before the novel even begins, as he's moving to Connecticut: a song that helped me lay the groundwork for his personality and a little bit of his background.
14. "He Films The Clouds, Part 2" by Maybeshewill.
Another song with no specific spot in mind ... I think it might just belong in the last chapter along with Tidal Wave.
15. "Lost?" by Coldplay.
Another end-of-the-book song ... in fact, this was the one I considered my "end credits" of sorts before I heard Tidal Wave.
16. "Look Out Any Window" by Bruce Hornsby.
On his drive down the Post Road, I mention that Buster's singing along with the radio. This would be the song.
17. "Sunny Came Home" by Shawn Colvin.
Chapter Fourteen: "He grabbed a pack of gum and a disposable lighter from the racks beside the counter, as a girl on the radio sang something about kids and a sweater."
18. "Centuries" by Fall Out Boy
I don't dare spoil the end of Chapter Fifteen, but a song with a hook from Tom's Diner was just the thing I needed.
19. "Team" by Lorde.
The official theme of the Runoff trio: Jeremiah, Loren, and Daniel. "No secrets."
20. "I Can't Read" by Tin Machine.
This is what's playing on the jukebox in the Runoff when the Spanner makes his entrance. Those of you who saw last week's Dream Cast post will "see what I did there", so to speak.
21. "Helena" by My Chemical Romance (Piano Cover)
This is where Q.S.'s first name came from. There is an awful lot more history between Buster, this song, and I, but that's our own little secret.
22. "Stop A Bullet" by Black Light Burns.
This one's got as much attached to it as the Helena cover, but I can say with certainty that this is the song I chose for Buster's poisonous relationship with Loren. I have a few other songs I'd put on to get inside Loren's head - "Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac and "Cruelty" by Cruxshadows were particular standouts - but if I had to choose one to stand as Loren's #1 theme, this would be it.
Since I'm still mainly trying to focus on finishing From the Desk... so that I can share it with you, this week's post won't be very long. But I have been digesting a lot of information lately, both for and about writing. It occurred to me that not too many of the blogs I frequent talk very much about something that's always been a huge factor in my writing: the music that inspires me.
Every writer has their own opinion when it comes to music. Some find it too much of a distraction, some prefer instrumental tracks from film scores or classical music, and others (like yours truly) craft whole soundtracks for plots or single characters that help them get in the right mood for a scene. From time to time, I'll be sharing lists of the songs I listen to when I write. I'm not as savvy as I'd like to be with sites like Grooveshark or 8-tracks, or there would be a playlist file embedded here for you to click and listen away. Maybe with some luck, future music posts will have that ability! In the meantime, here are my favorite writing songs for Buster Heywood, himself (in no particular order, and without hinting at any major surprises):
Look a few of them up, if you feel curious... I hope you enjoy them, and maybe even get inspired to create some lists of your own! Have you always had a song you associate with a character or scene? Or maybe you'd like to start using this trick to nudge your mind in the right direction, but aren't sure where to start? Drop me an email or a line on Twitter and let me know! I'd love to hear from you.
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