This time her visit coincides with the release of her debut Teen novel called Shade and people, this is one you have to read. I still don't know how Jeri does it but she writes the most amazing books and surprises me each time. My permanent collection boasts a copy of all of her books so far.
So find out more about Jeri below and how music influences her books. Then make sure you enter the contest to win a copy of Shade! Oh and put it on your wish list just in case you don't win. You really don't want to miss this one!
Thanks to Amber for having me, and for all the great blog topic suggestions from her readers. You rock! One of you (Carrie) won a Bring on the Night cover flat with this question:
How do you pick the music for your books?
Ah, Carrie clearly knows how important music is to my books, so she knows that this question is also about the writing process itself.
Honestly, sometimes I pick the music, and sometimes the music picks me. This was especially true with my new novel Shade. The music’s influence started before the first word was written.
If I lay here, if I just lay here,
Would you lie with me
And just forget the world?
One day in early summer 2008, when Shade was just an idea percolating in the back of my head, I heard Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” over the PA system at the local feed store. I’d heard it many times before, but its haunting notes of longing literally stopped me in my tracks. I knew at that moment that the song would sum up the relationship between the two main characters, Aura and Logan, especially after the latter’s death early in the book.
So as I finished writing the book, I played Snow Patrol’s last three CDs on infinite repeat. Their music helped me channel those feelings of hope and love in the face of unimaginable loss, and I think let me tap into emotions that I might have feared to feel with previous books. Plus, their lyrics are so simple yet eloquent. They made me strive to find words that I hoped would touch readers’ hearts in the same way.
When it came time to build the Shade playlist last month, I decided I wanted it to be more than a list of songs that were mentioned in the text, as is the case with the playlists for Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone. I wanted to challenge myself to build a real soundtrack. So I had to flesh out certain sections where no music was mentioned in the book.
For instance, I needed a sparse, mournful song for a death scene and its immediate aftermath. This was one of the most crucial choices, but during the day or two of searching, I kept coming back to Portishead’s “The Rip.”
Wild, white horses
They will take me away
And the tenderness I feel
Will send the dark underneath
Will I follow?
I don’t know if the song is about death, but I do know that listening to it makes me sad, and that’s what counts. I also love its cacophonous swell and sustained high note after the second chorus, and I imagine the sound to be like the roar of grief Aura hears in her head as the new reality crashes down on her.
Of course, soundtracks must not only reflect the events of the story, but they must also sound great. Just like the scenes in a book, the songs should be well-paced and flow seamlessly into each other, and just like a good book, a soundtrack should be hard to “put down.”
So when the middle had several consecutive slow songs, I knew I needed a couple of upbeat tunes that would accompany a scene where Aura’s best friend Megan takes her to a club to cheer her up and get her away from her ghostly boyfriend. Playing in the club is a band (Something Wicked) that includes two of Logan’s ex-bandmates, who are much better at living without him than Aura is. Because Something Wicked wasn’t a real band, I didn’t have a ready-made addition to the playlist.
But then I heard an infectious tune on Little Steven’s Underground Garage station: “I Lost Lenore” by a wonderful new garage band called the Nevermores.
I’m not grieving
Cause you’re leaving
Now I’m smiling
While you’re dying.
I could envision the band in the scene playing it. As a bonus, the song title and the band name are references to the Edgar Allen Poe poem, “The Raven.” Poe is a recurring figure in Shade, since it takes place in the city of his death, Baltimore, and even features a scene in his former house.
Some songs actually helped me write the book. I struggled with the final scene, which went through four or five versions—more, if you include small tweaks. So I listened to Coldplay’s “Till Kingdom Come” again and again as I fumbled for the perfect ending that would reflect Aura’s faith and loyalty.
For you I’d wait 'til kingdom come
Until my days, my days are done
And say you'll come and set me free
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.
Without music, I think I’d be less of a writer. I’d certainly be less me.
Thanks for listening, and more important, thanks for reading!
For a sample of the Shade soundtrack, plus a bonus St. Patrick’s Day mix by Logan Keeley, Click Here! The full soundtrack is available for download, in whole or in part, on iTunes. Click Here!
This week a copy of Shade is up for grabs!!!
How to Enter
Answer this question! What music influences you? Or what music do you always find yourself turning to?
No Music - No Entry!
Earn more entries for each place you link this contest on the net. You can post on Facebook, Twitter & MySpace but make sure you add links here for me to confirm your entries!
You can also earn extra entries by emailing your friends about the contest. Just make sure you send a copy of your email or receipt to me at Amberkatzes_book_blog at gmx dot net.
Make sure you post your links here so I can confirm your entries.
Keep the contests going by using the Amazon link below and around the site!
The contest will stay open until Sunday 9th of May 2010 4pm CET and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.