To celebrate the paperback release of Dedication (March 2 / Atria Books), fab authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus agreed to participate in a little Friday Five fun. The topic? Music, of course!
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what does your writing playlist include?
Emma: While I'm fine with ambient noise (street traffic, dishwasher, dog snoring) I have discovered that I really can't listen to music while I write because my scene work is so easily impacted by the mood of a song and/or I find myself daydreaming whole other tangent scenes. I actually often use music to gear up to write, either by picturing the heroine while I listen to a song and seeing what she does or watching music videos on YouTube to channel the mood. We are currently working on a YA novel called Over You and I have been tuning in frequently to Pink, Beyonce and Rihanna. Dirty secret: video-watching doubles as my number one online procrastination habit, which has proved hard to kick when it looks so similar to ‘gearing up’.
Nicki: I mix up my music based on what I have to write. I love soundtracks because they have instrumental pieces that have strong emotional weight. Two of my favorites are The Lover by Gabrial Yared and The Door in the Floor by Marcelo Zarvos. And you can't go wrong with Cinema Paradiso. For YA writing I'll go back to the songs I loved at that age, like The Cranberrys’ Linger, or the songs, like Avril Lavigne's I'm With You or Beyonce’s If I Were a Boy, that I WISH had been around!
In Dedication, Kate Hollis is the inspiration for many of her ex-boyfriend Jake Sharpe's hit songs. Have you ever heard a song on the radio and wished it had been written about you? What song and why?
Emma: It must be the authors in us, but more than imagining ourselves as the subjects, we hear songs on the radio that we wish we'd written or feel like we could have written. Now this is ridiculous because song writing is its own medium and talent from fiction. In our novels we strive for a voice that feels immediate and intimately relatable that makes our reader feel her most entertaining friend is telling her a great tale. People often tell us that reading our stories makes them feel like they can write them too. So maybe the fact that some great songs make us feel like we could have written them is our way of paying the compliment forward to the songwriters. He or she has so ‘nailed’ a particular experience that we feel like it came right out of our own brains.
Nicki: I agree with all of the above, but I've gotta say Maroon Five’s She Will Be Loved--I mean, come on! Who doesn't want to be made to feel beautiful?? And who is lucky (or not so lucky) Jane???
If you could date a rockstar, which chart-topping singer would you choose?
John Mayer. Just kidding! OMG, can you imagine? That guy should have ‘warning’ tattooed on his forehead (and a few other places). Honestly, after writing Dedication and diving into what it would ‘really be like’ to be with the kind of guy who can make it in such a cut throat business, we're not sure we'd want to put ourselves through ‘dating’ one. However, if we had to spend a few hours on a moonlit beach with one . . . Brandon Flowers of the Killers, Maxwell, Justin Timberlake--um, does it have to be just one?
What's your favorite song lyric?
Nicki: Oh my God, it so depends on my mood and the year! And so many lyrics read a little flat on the page, but blow your mind when sung with intensity. But I will say one of the all-time classics is Simon and Garfunkel's, "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you." It’s SO evocative. No mater where I am when I hear it it always gets me in the gut. Why Joe DiMaggio? Who knows? But it works. Every time.
Emma: I agree, narrowing it down is torture! I'm a total Stephen Sondheim junkie--the man can articulate an emotional paradox and set it to music like nobody else. But on the pop front, let’s see . . . when I was growing up I was always moved by the Indigo Girls song, Closer to Fine’s lyric "The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine. Yeah!" I heard that as a fancy way of saying, "Don't think so hard!" which, from two artists who clearly thought a LOT, felt like real permission to relax. It was my senior page yearbook quote and no matter what I was worrying through, whenever they sang that "Yeah!" I always felt my heart lift. Currently, The Killers, song Human is having the same affect on me. "Pay my respects to grace and virtue, send my condolences to good, give my regards to soul and romance, they always did the best they could. And so long to devotion, you taught me everything I know. Wave goodbye, wish me well. You've gotta let me go." Every time I hear it I feel like it’s a suggestion to give yourself permission to let go and be brave, which I guess is the "Relax!" of one’s thirties.
What are your top five all-time favorite songs?
Nicki: All right I have WAY too many favorites, I HAVE to narrow this down. Here are my Top 5, I Can Do Anything, Bring it, F*ck The Man Songs (great for the gym):
Let The River Run by Carly Simon
Man In Motion by John Parr
Defying Gravity by Stephen Schwartz
Better Days by Googoo Dolls
Uprising by Muse
Emma: Amen to Nicki's list and here are five of my old-dependables under the same criteria:
So What by Pink
Jesus Walks by Kanye West
Get Me Bodied by Beyonce
Let’s Get Loud by Jennifer Lopez
Golden by Jill Scott
Thanks so much for your time, Emma and Nicki!
Be sure to check back Monday for my review of Dedication, which features a new cover voted on by readers.
Have a great weekend, everyone.