“When words leave off, music begins.” – Heinrich Heine
I often listen to music as I write. I go to cafes a lot. Sometimes the thrum of background noise and whatever jazzy music they play is fine, but other times it’s distracting–so in go the earplugs.
Like a lot of writers, sometimes words with lyrics can be horribly distracting for me. Not always, but usually. Too much of my mind wants to focus on the lyrics, or sing along if it’s a favourite. So, usually during drafting or editing sessions, I just choose one of the “focus” playlists on Spotify. I’m currently listening to one called “Musik Produkt.”
But like Helen’s post earlier in the week, I find music outside the actual act of writing very inspiring as well. I collect playlists of songs that remind me of various books, and listen to them if I’m just browsing online, or cleaning, or reading. I have one for the Micah Grey books, one for a time travel WIP, and one for my near future thrillers, False Hearts & Shattered Minds.
The False Hearts & Shattered Minds one is still fairly short. Those books are about a perfect futuristic California.
Here’s the blurb for False Hearts, which is out in June, so there’s some context:
One night Tila stumbles home, terrified and covered in blood.
She’s arrested for murder, the first by a civilian in decades. The San Francisco police suspect involvement with Verve, a powerful drug, and offer her twin sister Taema a chilling deal. Taema must assume Tila’s identity and gather information – then if she brings down the drug syndicate, the police may let her sister live. But Taema’s investigation raises ghosts from the twins’ past.
The sisters were raised by a cult, which banned modern medicine. But as conjoined twins, they needed surgery to divide their shared heart – and escaped. Taema now finds Tila discovered links between the cult and the city’s underground. Once unable to keep secrets, the sisters will discover the true cost of lies.
It’s being marketed as adult, which is is, but about 1/3 of the book is basically YA as one sister writes about being sixteen in Mana’s Hearth. This cult is perpetually frozen in 1969, tech-wise, so I have included some 60s songs (or songs that sound 60s to me) to my playlist like “Albatross” by Fleetwood Mac, “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James & The Shondells, and “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane. The book is pretty psychedelic, with drugs in the cult and dream drugs pumped into your brain through implants in San Francisco.
As they’re thrillers, the main focus on both of them is murder or terrible crimes, and so I have a bunch of songs that remind me of my main characters or aspects of the plot. I’ll focus just on False Hearts for now:
“Your Body is a Machine” by The Good Natured, as it has a lot of heart imagery and my twins have mechanical hearts fit in after they’re separated. Lyrics: “You said your body is a machine / it won’t break you’ve broken me” and “I feel you beating in my chest.”
“Run as One” by Kate Boy, as it makes me think of conjoined twins: “Keep it kicking the chest / we’re not heading for a cardiac arrest / like blood we run as one.” & “All we ever want is to be loved / All we ever want is to be loved through unconditional wall / like blood we run as one / we run as one.”
The band Poliça also reminds me a lot of the atmosphere and aesthetic of my future world. I love the singer’s echoing, sort of sleepy voice. It makes me feel so calm that this is one of the few bands I can listen to when drafting. “Wandering Star” makes me think of Tila sitting alone in her prison cell, thinking of her sister: “When the day is done / And I lay me down / The sheets are cold / And your space is dark.” “Very Cruel” also fits very well: “Now we both can’t sleep / I see you in my dreams / lost into the lonely screen / What it’d be like in the willows with you / We’d be free like we used to / What does that even mean / It means we’d want nothing / Then to be a good choice to choose / You’re a good choice to choose.”
And I’ll only embed one video here, “Criminal,” which is from the Freakshow season of American Horror Story. I enjoyed that season, with some hefty reservations, but loved how much the song sung by the conjoined twins reminded me of the book. AHS is set in the circus, so it reminds me a bit of my Micah Grey books, too.
Here’s the entire playlist if you fancy a listen. Most of these songs are probably meant to be about romantic interests, but I find it interesting that the lyrics fit well for conjoined twins as well. Every time I listen to the playlist I start thinking about the world of Pacifica, and even if I heard one of these songs in twenty years, I think I’d immediately think of Taema and Tila.
Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine. Continue reading…