Music has always played an important role in my life, so it’s not coincidental that I made it relevant in my first novel, Stay. When writing a novel, especially one in the first person, it’s so important to get into your character’s head and “feel” what they are feeling. Music helped me do that.
When I wrote about how afraid Alexa was to fall in love with Julian and why, the words from “Again” by Needtobreathe guided my writing. I in turn let her use the words to explain to Julian how she was feeling. It was a win-win situation.
You can see what I mean when you read this excerpt from Stay:
I sit and stare at my blank screen for about ten minutes before I finally decide I’ll just send him the lyrics from a song that sums up my feelings perfectly. I know if I do this I’m allowing myself to be extremely vulnerable, but I feel like I have no other options. I’m getting a second chance here, and I don’t want to blow it. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Julian, and I really need to see if I can salvage whatever was happening between us. I get his e-mail address off of his card and cut and paste the lyrics to “Again” by Needtobreathe and highlight the words that mean the most.
Subject: Sometimes I have a hard time saying the words … This says it perfectly for me.
I don’t want to stay, I don’t want to fall.
I don’t want to take; I don’t want to lose it all.
Maybe I’m a fake, maybe you’re a lie.
Maybe our last chance died with last night.
I felt it worked so well that I decided to use music as a form of communication between Alexa and Julian throughout the book.
When I was writing about a night they shared, I listened to the song “Redlight” by Amiena and Chris Mann. In my opinion it’s hauntingly romantic, sexy and emotional. It totally helped set the tone and the words flowed.
When I needed to write about how Luke was dealing with Alexa’s new relationship, I listened to “If It Kills Me” by Jason Mraz. And obviously there is meaning behind the song “Stay”. It sums up the entire conflict between my main characters. It’s as if it was written for Julian and Alexa. The fit was perfect.
Each song in the book and on the below list spoke to me and guided me as I wrote. These songs just made the whole story come alive. When Stay becomes a movie (a girl can dream, right?) this is the music I want on the soundtrack. If you don’t know these songs, take a listen… There is some good stuff here
Stay by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko
Again by Needtobreathe
Falling by Tyrone Wells
Red Light by Amiena and Chris Mann
Breathe in Breathe Out by Mat Kearney
Domino by Jessie J
I’m Sexy and I know It by LMFAO
All or Nothing by Theory of a Deadman
Brighter Than the Sun by Colbie Callait
Falling In by Lifehouse
Please Don’t Stop the Music by Rihanna
Mirrors by Justin Timberlake
Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars
If It Kills Me by Jason Mraz
Watching You Watch Him by Eric Hutchinson
Give Me Everything by Pitbull
Bailando Por El Mundo by Juan Magan, Pitbull and El Cata
Music has always been relevant to me. I’m from the mixed tape generation so I would spend hours picking songs that reminded me of the guys I liked, special times or music that made me want to dance. I also have always used it when I couldn’t find my own words. Alexa and I have that in common.
When you can’t find your own words, turn on the radio and listen. I am sure there is a song out there that will help you out.