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Music and the Working Girl

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I have no idea what my blog post titles mean most of the time. It’s a gift.

Today I’m am slated to post another song from the Linger playlist, as it’s a Friday and as such just over 12 weeks until Linger comes out. (I edited out the scream I performed at this point of the post). I thought before I did, I’d actually blather about why music is so important to me while writing. And because I am in love with numbered lists, that’s what’s going to go down.

1. Focus. I’ve been told that if I was in school nowadays, I’d probably be labeled with something like ADD or ADHD or Brat or something like that. Really, I think most creative types have flighty brains, so it strikes me as more of a symptom than a syndrome, but that’s another story. The point is that it’s hard for me to sit down and focus at the computer, whether it’s writing about werewolf love or writing this blog post. If I have music on, however, my butt will stay in the chair. I’m playing music right now, actually, so I don’t think about going to put my contacts in or possibly making more tea or maybe I should go work on that tune for the Linger trailer or maybe I should package up some of my prize giveaways to mail etc. etc. etc. The noise inside my head is loud, but right now, the music is louder. ("The Mighty Quinn," if you’re interested)

2. Mood. This is the biggest reason I use music in my writing, and the reason for the dedicated playlists. I think of my books like movies, and my favorites sorts of movies are the ones that have really pronounced mood. I’m thinking . . . Chocolat, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Snatch, Amelie, The Secret of Roan Inish, Big Fish, Danny Deckchair — these are all movies where the mood that permeates is as important as the plot. The visuals, the music, the acting, the colors — everything supports this overall mood. I want my books to read like those movies feel to me. So before I even start writing, I start compiling playlists of music. The songs are all closely related in sound and feel, and they remind me of what I’m trying to get to. It’s a goal, at first. And then it’s just a reminder. I will not write a scene that doesn’t fit the mood.

3. Character. LINGER was the first book where I had three playlists instead of one, and at first, I thought that I was going insane (I mean, more than usual). Because the playlists were very, very different, and I thought my cohesive mood was going the way of Hanson‘s career*. One of these playlists was named Linger: Sam/ Grace. And the second was named Linger: Cole/ Isabel. And then there was Linger: all. The idea of having three of them hurt my soul (again, like Hanson). But I needed three of them, because I had more narrators in this book than I’d ever had before, and Cole as a narrator was nothing like Sam the narrator. Isabel was nothing like Grace. And to remind myself of that, to cement their voices, I needed a different playlist. And then the overarching playlist brought them back together and put my mood back into place.

I think it worked.

Is this getting too geeky? I think I’ll stop while I’m ahead, and just post the videos. The first is a tune from the Sam/ Grace playlist: "Spaceship" by Jonas and Plunkett.

And the second is the first tune I’ve posted from Cole’s playlist: "Party" by Clint Mantsell. If these two tunes don’t tell you everything you need to know about Cole and Sam, nothing will.

Hope you enjoy!

(and as usual, if you love a tune to death, please go buy it on Amazon, iTunes, etc. and show the artists some love. thnxkbye)

*ETA: I stand corrected by a blog reader and by an author friend. Hanson is apparently still recording music, rendering my metaphor useless. They have also cut their hair and gotten older.**

**They still aren’t my sort of music.***

***Sorry, boys.****

****men, now.

Maggie Stiefvater
Hi, I'm Maggie Stiefvater

Professional novelist by day and artist by night. I live an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with my charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, and neurotic dogs. I’m the author of the Books of Faerie (LAMENT and BALLAD); the bestselling SHIVER trilogy (SHIVER, LINGER, FOREVER), and THE SCORPIO RACES.

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Copyright 2012