I love music and it is always an inspiration to me when I write, sometimes more and sometimes less. It could be that the music itself puts me in the right mood or fits a character somehow, or that the lyrics are about the same subject I’m witing about, or both.
For my Detective Patrone series I have been listening a lot to Bruce Springsteen. There is something very straightforward about his music, what you see is what you get, and my leading man Detective Joe Patrone is very much like that. Furthermore Springsteen tells you a story, it’s working class, it’s tough times and life is pretty hard on the streets of whatever town he is writing about. It sets the mood just right for me, and it also helps me to get inside a male’s head. Springsteen’s lyrics are not always as tough as the music, with lots of guitars. They can be romantic and vulnerable, but from a man’s perspective and that is very appealing to me.
As I was writing the romantic comedy/drama A War of Wits, which takes place in the late 1930s, I was hugely inspired by Billie Holiday and some of her songs in particular. Billie Holiday became successful in the 1930-40s and that whole jazz vibe and her amazing vibrato along with some very poetic lyrics just kept my mindset in the 1930s permanently during the writing process.
Some songs inspired entire scenes, like the song “Autumn in New York” which describes different parts of the city with such poetic words in the lyrics, it fit perfectly for when Michelle sees the City for the first time. Every time I read the scene the song keeps playing in my head. “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” is another song that I played over and over again for the cold and snowy scenes in NYC before all the trouble start for the couple. “Twenty-Four-Hours-A-Day”, “Lover Man” and “These Foolish Things” were also on repeat and are both romantic and upbeat and really fitting for a romantic comedy.
There was another song which served as a big inspiration and a big help that came from a completely different genre. Even though A War of Wits is essentially a romantic comedy it also has some dramatic features, including a death scene. When I was writing the death scene and the scenes after it, I listened a lot to “Four Seasons in One Day” by Crowded House. The song is written about the city of Melbourne, known for its fickle weather changes but I think it so perfectly describes the emotional rollercoaster you’re on when you have a sudden death in the family. The lyrics are much darker and poetic than just being about the weather. The lines “Blood dries up, like rain, like rain” is also representative for the strange thoughts you have when something so drastically happens to you; when someone close to you dies. My stepdad died very suddenly by simply disappearing from a boat when I was 19 years old. That is why I wanted to write about this sort of thing happening to one of my characters, in an attempt to put to words how strange it feels not to have this person around anymore, from one day to another, and how you feel angry and sad and guilty and in denial and all sorts of emotions and weird thoughts like “what is happening to his body in the water right now”. And no one wants to talk to you about it and no one understands. If just one person recognizes this and feels like they are not alone in this, my purpose as a writer has been fulfilled. The lyrics really helped me go through all the emotions, once again, and the music of the song has always been so comforting, I have Crowded House to thank for that. That song gave me comfort when nothing else could. As a music lover I would say that there is great music in every genre, just as there are great books in every genre. A War of Wits will be available to pre-order shortly on Amazon.