Last night, I did something I haven’t done in years. I went to a live country concert to hear Dustin Lynch at the North Carolina Seafood Festival. Dustin is one of the newer country artists, and he sings lots of songs about drinking and partying and about how his girl “cranks his tractor.” It was loud and fun and I had very little voice left this morning in church. But those pounding songs weren’t why I wanted to see Dustin Lynch perform. He co-wrote and recorded one of my all-time favorite love songs, and indeed, a song that very much inspired my most recent book, The Hide-Away.
The song is “Cowboys and Angels,” and he wrote the song in honor of his grandparents. It’s a nearly perfect love song, at least for this romance writer. And it was worth the drive and the noise and the crowd to hear him sing it live last night. And come on – look at that smile!
I love listening to music. I love to sing music. I love to dance to music. In fact, I have a hard time sitting still and not breaking into song if there’s something great playing. I’ve been known to boogie my way through the house while cleaning, much to the amusement of the dog. I love music of all kinds, although I confess I can only take small doses of heavy metal, rap or opera. My music of choice tends to be country with a healthy dose of pop. The common denominator is, of course, love. Finding love, losing love, fighting to win love back – it’s the stuff romance novels are made of.
And yes, I usually write to music. Many writers do so, some even going so far as to create a playlist for each of their books. Often those playlists are ones only known to the writer, but more and more frequently with contemporary romances, the author’s playlist will be printed at the end of a romance novel so the reader can listen to the same music.
If I’m doing heavy-duty writing, as in starting a new book, tackling a major scene, or breaking through writer’s block, I write best in silence – preferably in an empty house (thank God my husband golfs). But if I’m editing or working through an easier stretch, I like a soundtrack, and I have an ever-evolving playlist. In fact, it’s playing as I type this.
At the moment, I’m listening to Justin Timberlake’s “That Girl.” So sexy. I have several favorites from Justin’s first 20/20 album, including “Mirrors” and “Pusher Love Girl.” Speaking of sexy, there’s always the frankly-titled “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz-II-Men or “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye.
Some songs are perfect for the passion-filled moment that comes along in every good romance novel (no, not that moment – I’m talking about the first realization of love). Songs like “That’s When I Knew” by Alicia Keys, “Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones, “Come a Little Closer Baby” by Dierks Bentley (hell, any love song by Dierks Bentley!), Adele’s version of “Make You Feel My Love,” and a personal favorite of mine – “Wreck You” sung by Kristen Chenoweth. That song is the true ballad of the romance novel heroine.
One of the reasons I’m drawn to country music is that it tells a story that is so easy to visualize. Brad Paisley is a master of the story song, including one of Hubby’s favorites, “We Danced.” It’s an entire love story told in a song. Another great example is the lesser-known song playing right now – “Fall” by Clay Walker. It’s what every single woman wants to hear from her man (take note, guys!).
While The Hide-Away doesn’t have a specific playlist, it was heavily influenced by the aforementioned “Cowboys and Angels”, as well as “Walking Away” by Jason Aldean, and “Who I Am When I’m With You” by Chris Young. Those last two reflect a lot about Cole’s character.
My first book, Halcyon, actually does have a short playlist, because music factors so heavily in the story. The romantic ghost of Halcyon likes music, and has fun messing with playlists at times. The playlist is listed below, and all of the songs appear in the novel. So tell me, what are the songs from your soundtrack?
Playlist for Halcyon:
“Let the Groove Get In” Justin Timberlake
“A Thousand Years” Christina Perri
“Say Something (I’m Giving Up on You)” A Great Big World (with Christina Aguilera)
“I Won’t Give Up” Jason Mraz
“Tonight I Wanna Cry” Keith Urban
“All of Me” John Legend
“The Mess I Made” Parachute
“Make You Feel My Love” Adele
“Hymne” The O’Neill Brothers