Sunday, February 20, 2011

On Music and Soundtracks For Books

So it only takes listening to one top 30 Countdown on Radio Disney for its music to change from the "soundtrack of my current YA novel" to the "soundtrack that moves me to stick my tongue into an electrical outlet."

Just saying.

I know that a lot of writers have soundtracks for their books.  It kind of makes sense if you are delving into your characters to figure out what they might listen to.  For me, I prefer to write with silence.  Don't get me wrong, I love music and I am so grateful for it (especially when I have to wait 13 years in the carpool line while they try to match kids with cars).  I just don't think about my characters in terms of music.  Maybe it is because their voices are so strong in my head that I don't want them drowned out by music.

Not including music in a book about radio stations is like not including food in a book about a culinary school.  It's ridiculous to try to avoid it.  But I am wary of dating the book with popular music references and honestly, Radio Disney and the Glee soundtracks are pretty much all my kids are listening to these days (yes, Butter is 3 but he still sings "I Bust the Windows Out Your Car" right along with my 6 & 8 year old).  Bottom line:  Unless someone can wrestle the kitchen radio and CDs from Butter's chubby fingers, I am going to be getting pretty familiar with the Pinkett-Smith kids.  

Luckily, I have gotten around these aural limitations by choosing music for my book that is either classic (Billy Holiday) or slightly obscure (Lou Reed).  I am sure that my CPs will tell me to do some research on music but really, what happens when this isn't published until 2014?  Is it better to just make up bands/songs all together?  It probably is but I also think that it is sort of corny when bands are made up.


P.S.  Think I may have to read NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST to see how the pros handle the issue.  Dang, there goes the last of my Amazon gift cards.  Crap.    


Penny Linsenmayer said...

So glad to hear that I'm not the only writer who writes in silence (mostly). I'm jealous of these people who have the "soundtrack" for their books, but it just doesn't work for me.

I also would be leery of dating a book, especially since you are right to be thinking 2013-2014 for something in progress right now. I recently read "Henry & Ribsy" with Harry and was shocked at how *dated* the Cleary books are. I hadn't read one since I was in 3rd grade probably and had forgotten that they are firmly 1960s/early 70s books.

P.S. My kids LOVE Glee soundtracks as well (I'm now heartily sick of them, much as I loved them to begin with).

Unknown said...

Hi Crista! Thanks for visiting my blog and following. It's great to meet you! I wish I could write to music and have a soundtrack for each character. But, I can't write when there's noise -- and music sounds like noise when I write. Maybe I'll get into the groove when I'm in revisions? (Doubt it!)

Bruce said...

When I read your Valentine's teaser, I thought "She picked the Lady Day track so the book would not get dated.". I assumed that the radio station played all Jazz. The other way around it would be to set it deliberately in the past, but that might feel like watching WKRP or rereading "High Fidelity", either of which would be fine with me.

Rachel Searles said...

I like to listen to particular songs sometimes to get me in the mood to write, but once I'm writing, I need absolute silence too--even white noise is too distracting.