I’m passionate about music—almost as passionate as I am about writing and reading. I’m a rock chic from way back, but I appreciate all types of tunes. I listen to everything from Pink, to Harry Connick Jnr (because he’s soooo cute in that Sandra Bullock movie Hope Floats. Oh Harry, you can build me a house any time), to Aretha Franklin, Powderfinger, and I’ve even been known to dance around the house to The Bee Gees. Yes, it’s attractive that.
As a result I have quite an extensive music collection, which comes in handy when I’m trying to get in touch with my characters. One of the most integral pieces of information I need to know about them is what kind of music they listen to. My hero from Born Again Virgin liked the Eagles and CCR—she liked jazz and soul. Nick from Fijian Fling played guitar himself, and in one scene I have him strumming a cheesy old Roger Miller tune because it suited the vibe of the location and his character. In Sunset Knight, my heroine gets caught by the hero in the opening scene dancing around to Christina Aguliera’s Dirty. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xztA9WtC8xQ&feature=related. You can just imagine those moves. How embarrassing. As for Brody Nash, he was into a mix of Nirvana and old songs. One scene is played out on a sunny day beside his yacht and I always pictured Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay playing from a tinny radio in the background.
When I need to create a mood for a book I put together a soundtrack, something I can play when I need to switch from mummy/wife/worker mode into writer mode. At the moment I’m putting together a bunch of music that reminds me of heat and isolation, because my book’s set largely in the Australian Outback. Country Rock makes up the bulk of the list, artists like Steve Earl, Sheryl Crow, John Mellencamp and some Bruce Springsteen, because who doesn’t love a little Bruce now and then? He sings a lot of great songs about small home towns, and I’m on Fire has one of the best song lyrics ever written about a man pining for the woman he can never have:
Sometimes it’s like someone took a knife baby edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley through the middle of my soul.
I love a good pine.
I take most of the musical allusions I make in my initial book drafts out of the final product. I figure not everyone’s as into music as I am and I don’t want to bore people or pull them out of the story with a pop culture reference that brings them into reality, and out of the romantic fantasy I’m trying to weave around them. But then, when I find them in other authors’ books I love it. In that moment it’s like the book’s creator and I are on the same wavelength, which adds to the experience for me.
So what do you think about it? Do musical/movie/other pop culture references in books add or subtract from your enjoyment as a reader?