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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Guest Blog with Author Jeri Smith-Ready (Includes Contest!)

Author Jeri Smith-Ready is a regular guest here on Amberkatze's Book Blog and I have enjoyed each visit! I hope my readers have too!

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!

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones


>Contest Time!

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.


Liyana said...

Muse! It evokes all kinds of emotions from me, and I love their songs SO VERY MUCH. Right now "I Belong to You (+ Mon Coeur S'ouvre à ta Voix)" is on replay.


Beth Caudill said...

I'm usually writing to New Age music but I really like the music of Christopher Franke. The Babylon 5 soundtracks are great and I also listen to some of his work with Tangerine Dream.


Curling up by the Fire said...

To be honest, it depends on my mood. I never go anywhere without my AC/DC Live, Pink Floyd, Def Leppard or Led Z music, but I also like to listen to classical music or other types of music too, like Enya.

Thank you for the contest.

icewoman96 at gmail dot com

Giada M. said...

I love De Andrè, Minghi, Bocelli, Pavarotti, Muse, Skillet, Enya....there are too many! :P
Thank you for the interesting post! I can't wait to read Shade!^O^ And thank you for making this contest international!

Best wishes!

Giada M.

fabgiada @ gmail.com

mary-jo said...

The music I mostly prefer to listen to is Within Temptation, Epica and Nightwish - bands that create really beautifull music that helps me understand my own feelings. Songs like "Linger". "Memories", "Feel for you", "Beauty of the beast", "Chasing the dragon" inspire me and express my need for creativity. Their music is magical, taking me to another place and time, their lyrics passionate and honest, that touch every fibre of me. They are my personal muse....

mary-jo said...

Easy to answer that - I always listen to Avril Lavigne when I want to understand my feelings; I also listen to Within Temptation, Epica, Nightwish - bands that cause many emotions to me, sad and beautifull, with their special music and the wonderful lyrics that inspire me whenever I feel the need to express my creativity. Songs like "Linger", "Memories", "Come cover me", "Feel for you", "Beauty of the beast" and many other great songs are my emotional escape.

Blodeuedd said...

It depends, sometimes I need Billy Talent, but mostly it is the soothing and beautiful voice of Loreena McKennitt

blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

Barbara E. said...

I love listening to a lot of different genres and styles of music, it dependds on my mood and what strikes my fancy. Most often it's alternative rock, such as Breaking Benjamin, Linkin Park or Three Days Grace, but I also like Reggae, Celtic and classical music. I even listen to some oldies rock occasionally, still love those Eagles.

Tori [Book Faery] said...

Anything techno or trance. No lyrics > lyrics for when I want to write. Anything that has lyrics usually distracts me while writing lol. But music with lyrics is great when I'm brainstorming :)


Sarah said...

Great guest post - I love Snow Patrol & Chasing Cars is one of my favorite songs. I really want to read Shade so I'd love to win a copy :o)

I have very eclectic tastes when it comes to music so what I listen to depends on my mood. I've got so many different things on my ipod - Muse, Bon Jovi, Meatloaf, Boyzone, Madonna, Anastacia, James Blunt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM, Nine Inch Nails...I could go on forever with the list LOL.

I tweeted about the giveaway here http://twitter.com/sarahsreviews/status/13257810870

sarahsreviews at ymail dot com

Unknown said...

im a 80;s child , so guns and roses and ac/dc

SiNn said...

honestly alls orts of music influance sme if im sad and need a sad song i turn to country if i need an upbeat haunting pick me up i turn to J-rock rock and some r & b all depends on my mood

Vickie said...

Classic rock does it for me every time.

Van Pham said...

I always find myself tuning into pop, r&b and alternative musics. Thanks for the contest!


mariska said...

When i need to up my emotion, I like to listen to Prodigy and Foo Fighters.

and sometimes i listen to Mariah Carey, Celine dion too :)

i tweeted : http://twitter.com/becunique/status/13275666784

post in Fb : http://tinyurl.com/39gfymu

uniquas at ymail dot com

Karen W. said...

Hi, Jeri,

I'm a big fan of your books and can't wait for SHADE!

I like all kinds of music, but I find myself turning the most to my all-time favorites like Billy Joel, the Beatles, the Eagles & the Bee Gees. I like singer/songwriters.

karenwitkowski at aol(dot)com

Calliope said...

I loved the ALMOST ALICE mix CD that came out based on Burton's Alice in Wonderland. I also like Daughtry, Three Days Grace, Greenday, Lifehouse, Breaking Benjamin, Linkin Park and a ton of oldies tunes. I like a hard rock especially; music that has a hard beat and good lyrics.

Martha Lawson said...

Okay, I'll show my age! Motown is always good! Other than that is rock and roll all the way!!

I would really love to be entered to win this one. It looks awesome.

I follow and subscribe.

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

donnas said...

I usually end up turning to more classic rock. The Who, The later Beatles, Pink Floyd, etc. Although I do like some of the more modern rock as well.

Linked - http://donnasbloghome.blogspot.com/2010/05/contests-found-52.html

Sidebar - http://donnasbloghome.blogspot.com/

Tweet - http://twitter.com/DonnaS1/statuses/13285638210

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Margay Leah Justice said...

I love all kinds of music. My absolute favorite right now is Muse. I also love Daughtry, Paramore, Carrie Underwood and Leona Lewis.


Margay Leah Justice said...

I tweeted the contest here:



Margay Leah Justice said...

I Facebooked the contest here:



Sue Brandes said...

U2 but; I prefer a lot of their older music. I like finding a lot of new music I have never heard before too. My mood for music changes daily. Could be Enya, Fireflight, Flyleaf. Great interview.

SandyG265 said...

Classic rock from the 60s and 70s

cait045 said...

I can listen to any type of music and enjoy it. I really think country is my favorite though. I love listening to live bands even if they are unknown.


Carrie Clevenger said...

I really appreciate the way music is so tied into all of Jeri's stories (WMVP, Shade series) and how she shares what inspired her to write these characters. For me, writing with music is like walking around a hallway of doors with each band/song being a key to unlock a character. Once I establish who likes what, I can 'summon' them over and over almost every time I want to write them.

If you guys want to read good stories (I'm such a disgustingly squeeing fangrrl for her stuff) pick up her new book coming out SHADE. Do it.

Carrie Clevenger said...

Uh, that would be WVMP. Confusing Radio call station letters. >.>

JenM said...

In general, I've always gone for songs that have a mournful note to them and are written in a minor key (perfect example - The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkle). I also tend to prefer female artists who sing ballads and folk/rock type music. On the other hand, my two favorite groups of all time are U2 and The Police. But, that's the great thing about music. You can always find something that appeals to whatever mood you are in.


Kimberly B. said...

Oh, I've been wanting to read this book! As for music, good question! Lately I've been listening to a lot of Vienna Teng, and the Swell Season (the band from the movie "Once"), plus someone few people have ever heard of called Michelle Cross. But when I'm writing or grading papers, I like something really mellow, like Celtic or Middle Eastern music.
Thanks for the great giveaway!

Kimberly B. said...

I also tweeted about the giveaway @KimBea. Thanks again!

doreen lamoureux said...

I always find myself listening to spa music or get this...jukebox oldies. I am somehow connected to the 50's and 60's.

dorcontest at gmail dot com

doreen lamoureux said...

Shared here:


dorcontest at gmail dot com

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

While I don't listen to music when I read except when at the pool and there's always music in the background here, I prefer the hard beat of Rock. Van Halen, ZZ Top,Def Leppard and any of the 70's rock bands. I especially like this music when cleaning, gardening or mowing. We have outdoor speakers at every corner of our house(luckily no close neighbors)and have the stereo blasting anytime we are out. I have a gianormous playlist of 70's rock on the I-pod that I listen to when mowing and riding the motorcycle.

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...


angie said...

Right now it is probably upbeat top 40 music that I listen to and helps me get through a crazy work day:)
If I have had a rough day I turn to heavy metal music with loud guitars and tons of drums. It just seems to fit my mood.
I tweeted http://twitter.com/bangersis/status/13318202703
bangersis at msn dot com

Anonymous said...

When I'm having a bad day I listen to anything by Imogen Heap. She just has that kind of voice that gets through to me.


Kathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy said...

Sorry about deleted post, lol, I misspelled a word.

Country - especially Texas artists. George Strait is absolute favorite, but I like good old Texas honky tonk bands too.

Llehn said...

I'm drawn to sweeping soundtracks like James Horner's Braveheart or John William's Hooked.

throuthehaze said...

Grateful Dead, CSN, Nirvana, Incubus, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, etc.
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Velma said...

Lately I have listened quite much ABBA. :)

(Linked this at twitter, my account: https://twitter.com/pikku_kissa)

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

I love electronica music - I have hours long playlists on my ipod I love to listen to..

darklyreading (at) gmail (dot) com

jellybelly82158 said...

I love country music.

jellybelly82158 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

That's a tough question. Lately, I've been turning to Empire of the Sun and that kind of electro-alternative-rock for inspiration.

Andrea I said...

I usually listen to Country, but sometimes contemporary Christian. On day at work when I need to concentrate, I listen on Pandora and it helps me stay focused.



Marg @ Clockwork Reverie said...

I'm an artist at heart, and my particular passion is photography. Lately when I'm working on my photos, I listen to modern classical / electronic / dark ambient music such as the artists Subheim and Saltillo.


Unknown said...

We have a great station here in St. louis. 106.5 the Arch they play 70's through to current and there's almost always a good song on. We still love the 80's it's the music we grew up on.


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Unknown said...

I emailed you and 7 friends


k_sunshine1977 said...

it depends on my mood, but lately i've been listening to the heavier stuff. i've been listening to type-o-negative quite a bit lately, mourning peter steele...


Jacqueline C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacqueline C. said...

I love all different types of music but I find that I'm always in the mood for soul music. If I want a mood boost I turn to dance/pop music.


CrystalGB said...

I listen to classic rock and country. Shade sounds good.


wanda f said...

I love upbeat country

Carmen R said...

I mostly listen to punk or ska. I listen to a bit of everything but those are the types that call to me the most.

hdtermite at yahoo dot com

Kayla :) said...

I usually listen to alternative music and pop, but I also like bands such as Linkin Park and Green Day.


Persephone said...

I am a big fan of Kpop (2PM, Gummy, Lexy, Brown Eyed Girls), it is the majority of music I listen too. I love Japanese electronica and hip hop too (capsule, Namie Amuro). I think it inspires me because I enjoy the fact that I love music that most Americans wouldn't even think of listening to. Despite not understanding most of the lyrics I get still revved up or mellowed out by what I listen to.

patronus89013 at yahoo dot com

bookaholic said...

I am a fan of pop,r&b and soft rock.But mostly what I listen to is a direct reflection of my mood.

I Tweeted-http://twitter.com/Debasmitadhar/status/13529840675
Facebook Post-
Live Journal Post-http://bookaholic-d.livejournal.com/1438.html

Thanks for the contest!

Linda Henderson said...

I listen to a lot of different music, but some of my favorites are Daughtry, Shine Down, Lady Gaga, Rascal Flatts, and Nickleback.

seriousreader at live dot com

MannaB said...

I would have to go with Pink and Christina Aguilera. They seem to always lift my mood. Also I almost forgot Owl City! I love them!


Badass Bookie said...

I listen to all kinds of music depending on what kind of mood im in however, my all time favourite include Owl City, Paramore, All time low, Blink 182 and Taylor Swift ;P ps- I 've heard sooooo many good things about this book !

Lynsey Newton said...

I like Muse, also like The Veronicas. I think sometimes film sountracks help too.

Thank you for the contest


Spav said...

I listen to a little bit of everything, but lately I'm listening to a lot of soundtracks.

Tweet: http://twitter.com/Sparima/status/13640102373


heatwave16 said...

For me, its the Clarks. They are a band from my hometown and anytime I'm feeling homesick, I pop in a cd. Also, there are so many great memories from concerts that they just make me smile



Unknown said...

I listen to a variety of music, always depending on my mood, I like mellow music (Snow Patrol, Jack Johnson) as well as Nickelback, Bryan Adams and country.

tweeted here: http://twitter.com/Stella_ExLibris/status/13687259944

spread the word on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000899165880&v=wall&story_fbid=120055184683410

stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com