Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Music Makes My World Go 'Round by C.P. Stringham

It struck me, while I was working on rewrites and edits yesterday, how much music plays a vital role in my author world. Not only does it increase my productivity, it also helps me get into the heads of my characters. Maybe I get too detail-oriented sometimes, but I truly want to know my characters inside and out—and their music preference plays into it.
Now, don’t laugh, I’m not a very modern gal. I don’t own an MP3 player. My daughters do. They love them. Have them loaded to capacity with songs. My eldest even has favorite movie clips downloaded on hers—Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Yep. Creepy. And cool. Despite my lack of techno-gadgets, I get by with a decent collection of CD’s (those shiny, silver plastic thingies) and by tuning in to our local Top 40 station. My friend, Lisa "The Rage" (I'll explain her nickname at the bottom,) works in the offices at Pembrook Pines Media. They’ve recently changed their format on 94Rock to include hits from the 80’s and 90’s—music from my heyday. Mostly, I like to listen to the DJ banter during the morning show. Background conversation that doesn’t require my active participation.
    Today’s music selection is courtesy of Grace Werner, my latest work-in-progress protagonist, and is comprised of Daughtry, Hinder, Offspring, and Pantera. Grace will be featured in book three of the Ellis Springs Series, Rest in Peace. She had a rebellious youth and, even at age forty, still likes to headbang (quite the contrast from Natalie’s Classical and Reverend Stephanie’s Country music in the earlier books of the series.)
Music to headbang write to...

As I’ve said before, music helps me think like my characters. During particularly difficult scenes, it often helps set the mood. Allows me to sink into the turmoil or despair I’m trying to create. A good portion of Rest in Peace was written while listening to Evanescence Fallen. Amy Lee’s haunting vocals combined with the lyrics from such songs as Going Under and Bring Me Back to Life made for inspirational writing partners. Another favorite was Broken by Seether with guest vocals by Amy Lee. The book’s theme of escaping and overcoming one’s violent past required me to be able to delve into perfect emotional darkness. At the same time, as Grace’s story reaches a turning point, I needed something to help show her emergence into lightness and good; embrace the positives in her life while never forgetting the past that molded and shaped her because, no matter how far she’s come, she’ll always carry a semblance of burden.

You can see how important a role music plays in making my books happen. It encourages my chameleon moods in the creative process. Tolstoy captured it best, “Music is the shorthand of emotion.” What helps to set the mood for you? 

As promised, the story behind Lisa "The Rage." She joins Paralegal Jenn and I two to three times a week for our hikes around The Matterhorn. We call her The Rage because she totally fits the mold of hot-tempered (natural) redhead. Her adventures in anger mismanagement often leave us laughing hysterically (and doubly thankful she's on our side.) This video clip from Malcolm in the Middle is a close representation of the scene taking place in the Wegman's parking lot not so long ago. Of course, in The Rage's story, the F-bomb was dropped into the mix. 

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts. I might have to do a companion post, because while I sometimes write to music, I don't always.