My Writing Soundtrack

Driving into work on Thursday, The Donnas came up on my playlist and I was immediately whisked back to a particular moment in time.

This was the song I was listening to a few months ago when my Z3 got run over by an SUV. I was listening to their track titled, “Take It Off,” and thinking to myself that if Carsen Taite’s character, Luca Bennett, had a theme song, this would be it. I’m on my second drink, but I’ve had a few before… I’m tryin’ hard to think and I think that I want you on the floor.

It was at about that moment that the airbag deployed.

Luca’s favorite lunch is a burger and a beer, and she drives a vintage Bronco, so I’m pretty sure she’d be into The Donnas. Anyone who eats that much red meat and drives a V8 would definitely have this song on her favorites list.

I often link songs to the characters I draw and/or write. Some of the characters in my Jane’s World graphic novel series have theme songs. Take Jill James for example. Her theme song is “Inside Out” by Eve 6. I would swallow my pride, I would choke on the rinds…

Jill tries to present a tough exterior, but inside she just wants to be held. She has a tendency to push people away, which is the opposite of what she really wants: Intimacy.

I have a feeling that VK Powell’s character, Zak, from her book Fever would be a Nirvana fan. I think her favorite track would probably be “Come As You Are.” Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be…

Yeah, I’m reaching back in the archive a bit for this one. But Zak spends time off the grid executing undercover ops so I’m thinking her playlist might lean toward classic rock and vintage favorites.

My drawings of Luca, Zak, and Jill.

From left to right: My drawings of Luca, Zak, and Jill.

The next two characters that I’m going to mention I don’t have drawings for. Yet.

I ran into D. Jackson Leigh this summer and I made her sit down and listen to a song by Garrison Starr that I think her character, Whit, in Hold Me Forever would enjoy. Deb was a good sport. She even agreed to wear my headphones, and listened to all of “I May Not Let Go.” If I hold you tonight, I may not let go…

This brings me to the short story I’m currently working on, The Ground Beneath. It features a character named Sam Casey. For Sam, I’m going to have to go with another song by Garrison Starr: “Sit With Me Tonight.” You don’t have to fix this, sit with me tonight…

Sam has a tendency to spiral into dark places. She gets down on herself. She thinks she’s terrible at relationships, but she really isn’t. The last breakup she suffered was like a gut punch to her self-esteem. An improbable barter deal involving a hope chest and dinners for a month places the lovely Jessica Walker distractingly in the way of Sam Casey’s bachelor lifestyle.

Music matters. At least it does to me anyway, so much so that I’ve built a playlist for writing. I end up doing a lot of my writing during the in-between spaces in my life; at coffee shops, during lunch breaks, late at night. I put the headphones on and two songs into this playlist I’m in the zone. It’s a list of about 40 songs that I listen to over and over and over, to the point where I cease to hear the lyrics and instead allow the music to transport me to a particular place and time. As I’ve listened to this playlist and adjusted the mix, certain songs have begun to identify themselves with specific characters. It’s almost like having a soundtrack for a movie and within that, each character’s theme song.