The Accidental Podcaster: Music Notes
There is one point on which I will always give Stephenie Meyer mad props: from her second book onward, in her acknowledgements at the end, she lists out the main playlist of music she listened to while working on each novel. Using music to set the tone while one is working isn’t in itself particularly groundbreaking. We all do it. But it’s rare to see an author take the time to publicly acknowledge and share the music that helped shape each of their own works. In having that knowledge, the stories suddenly have an entirely new dimension; one can feel the tone more vividly than with words alone, and I would argue it helps bring the reader closer to the picture in the author’s mind.

Continuing the Meyer example, I am not a Twilight fan. I was 28 when I decided to read them,and only then because every female I knew wanted to talk with me about the series “because I read books†and I can’t have an opinion on something I haven’t read. The first book was about what I expected - the writing was a little rough, decent idea for a story but not really my cup of tea. I thought the secondary characters were rather well done, but hated the protagonists with all their stupid angsty teenage issues (seriously, you’d think at 100 years old and having travelled the globe that Edward Cullen might possibly have learned more social skills than silently staring creepily at young girls. That’s not sexy, that’s...disturbing). The second book was a little more polished, writing-wise, but again, I was past the stage of caring about whiny teen issues. I was ready to drop the series for lack of interest when I caught the playlist Meyer listed in her acknowledgements. Meyer writes that the core of her playlist for all of her novels was an aptly-named rock group called Muse; for the second book, her playlist included a lot of Coldplay, The Fray, My Chemical Romance (YAY GERARD WAY REFERENCE!), The Arcade Fire, and others. Suddenly a lot of things fell into place - of COURSE the protagonist was whiny. Of COURSE she annoyed the crap out of me - she was at a stage of life where she was trying to transition to adult decisions, but on top of conflicting feelings and lack of life experience, now she was also dealing with being caught in a love triangle with an equally angsty werewolf and a sparkly vampire who, again, should have known better. It’s a lot to cope with. But having listened to a lot of the same music when I was at that period of life, I was brought back to that mindset for a little while, and started to understand why there were so many fans - coming from that perspective, Meyer nailed exactly how Bella and probably most teenage girls would act in that situation,and had enough realism with the secondary characters reactions that it created a very nicely balanced story that I did, in fact, see through to the end (I finished with Bella and Edward’s ill-advised vampire marriage the night before I got married myself). The music, though, is what gave me the key.

Now, as Varyar works through his conniption about Twi-talk making it to RCM’s front page…

I mentioned at the beginning of this piece how Meyer is not doing anything particularly new or different with the listening, but it’s rare to share. Sean did a piece earlier this week on inspiration and roadblocks in content creation, mentioning some of the music he listened to when working, which then sparked my thinking on the different music I have on when working. What I listen to varies widely, depending on what I’m doing. At my day job, the resource center usually has on jazz or bebop instrumentals - it’s classy, polished, and keeps me focused. I use the same for when I’m writing news releases or blog entries. But when I get to fiction, it’s different - my primaries for that are Nightwish and Within Temptation. If I’m doing a light hearted scene, I almost always have some buoyant pop rock in the background. Action sequences are typically metal or a dark orchestral piece - something with a lot of heavy energy (my favorite is Metallica’s S&M live concert album with the San Francisco Symphony). Baron and Killer scenes are anchored with Breaking Benjamin and Flogging Molly. I don’t really care for Coldplay1, but if Baroness is depressed, they do a decent job of putting the writer in a frame of mind to draw that out.

Going back through my work recently, I can see the influence these different pieces had. But while writing tone is affected, I’m curious as to what tangible influence music has in the creative process of other work. What do you do, and what do you listen to while you do it? Drop me a line in the comments; I’m interested in hearing more.

WHAT I’M CURRENTLY READING: Barnaby Rogerson, Rogerson’s Book of Numbers
THREE THINGS I’M LISTENING TO ON REPEAT: Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Moonlight and Madness; Delain, We Are The Others; Nightwish, Eva

1 I like the song The Scientist, and that’s about it.
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