Writing a novel is a big undertaking. There's a lot of research to be done, a lot of plot holes to fill in, and a lot of characters to figure out. While I prefer to write in silence, I like to have a playlist for whatever story I'm working on to help me better understand the people I'm writing about. The right song can provide not only great insight into the characters, but also into the mood of the story and overarching themes. It's like a movie soundtrack, except the author is the only one who hears it.
As I worked on Along Came December, I curated a great soundtrack that I revisited again and again. The individual songs are representative of specific characters, as well as specific moments in the story. They provide landmarks of sorts: something to remember, a feeling to capture, a resolution to write toward. I can't listen to these songs now without thinking of my characters. Some songs I can't even listen to at all anymore because they're too depressing. (Spoilers in case you haven't read the book: much of ACD is depressing.) They're all really great, though, and they all played a big role in helping me write the book. So here, in chronological order, is the Along Came December playlist.
(This is the first of a series of posts on this topic. How many posts in the series? I dunno. I'll update when it's done.)
Basket Case, by Sara Bareilles
This is a Mordecai song. When we first meet her at the start of the story, she's a hot mess. The trial of her husband's murderer is starting in a couple days, and she's barely keeping it together. As much as she tries not to think about her dead husband, it's all she can think about, and it's hurting her ability to do her job, not to mention her relationships with the other people in her life. She feels lost, and hates herself for it. She feels like she's right on the edge of crazy.
Run to You, by Pentatonix
This is also a Mordecai song. (There are lots of Mordecai songs, since she's the POV character.) This song is a general representation of Mordecai's feelings toward Max, her deceased husband, but particularly of the night before the trial starts. She had a pretty rough day and is finally at home with her roommate/best friend and his boyfriend. She's watching them together, watching them be together, and is overcome by grief and loneliness. She goes to bed remembering what she lost, wishing desperately to be with Max again.
Will The Circle Be Unbroken, by The Neville Brothers
After losing her shit at the trial and fucking everything up, Mordecai hits rock bottom at top speed. Not only is Max's murderer still breathing, she's lost her job, her partner's washed his hands of her, and her roommate and his boyfriend have moved out. I picture this song playing as the soundtrack to the sequence of events, kind of like a movie montage. At the end of the song/section of the book, Mordecai's thinking about the gun under her bed, and how maybe she'd like to stick it in her mouth. I told you this was depressing.
Stay tuned for Part II.