I thought this might be kind of a fun feature to do every once in a while…
I’m really big on song lyrics as inspiration. I don’t usually listen to music while I write because I find it distracting, but I do a lot of plotting to music. I love songs that seems to tell a story. A lot of my stories, characters, and scenes are pulled directly out of songs I’ve heard. I even named my blog “Hunting High and Low” after a-ha’s first album, because the story I was working on at the time, working title WEST OF THE MOON, was very much inspired by their “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” album.
So I thought it might be fun to occasionally post some of the songs that have inspired things I’ve written or songs that speak to me but I’m not sure what they’re saying yet.
Today I’m going to give you a pretty obvious choice: Linkin Park’s “Numb,” which basically inspired all of Joss’s and Gene’s interactions in HEROES ‘TIL CURFEW.
I didn’t set out to purposely make Gene what he is. When I sat down to write HUSH MONEY, in my head he was still just a dad with a military background who was a bit overprotective when it came to his daughter. But the first time he came onto the page, something happened–one of those amazing, unexpected things that make writing so addictive. Gene pulled all kinds of crap out of my life and became more than I had intended. And what he made of himself had a big impact on Joss’s character and the story.
But since Gene’s mental illness was something I didn’t plan, I didn’t know where I was going with it. Then one day, as I was washing dishes and listening to my A Walk In The Dark station on Pandora, this song came on. Not like I hadn’t heard it before, but that was the day that it snagged me and said, “this is what their relationship is.”
And I was like, “Whoa. Joss is a lot more angry about this than I realized.”
Because, you know, why shouldn’t she be? It’s not fair. In HUSH MONEY, with regard to how she deals with her dad, I wrote her as someone I could admire. I made her loyal. I made her protective when she could easily have been something else. I made her willing to make sacrifices in order to support someone who needed her. I wrote her as kind of person I want to be.
I think this song helped me understand that she couldn’t continue to be that without some internal cost. It helped me feel the frustration that must be welling up inside her. That day I really listened I knew they’d have a confrontation in the next book. I knew that Joss would be pursing a course to become something that wasn’t going to fit within the safe confines of what her father wanted for her and what he needed for own sanity, and that, at some point, this was all going to come to a head.
And I knew there would be consequences to that. Any time you set up rules which a character knowingly breaks, there have to be consequences. Joss knew that her father was unstable. She chose to tell herself that it would be okay to continue on her path of defiance. She thought he was getting better. She saw what she wanted to see, the way people do. Giving her consequences for her choices gave me another big chunk of plot.
I listened to this song a LOT as I planned out the Joss/Gene scenes in book 2. And then one day another line in it, the significance of which I hadn’t thought about it before, spontaneously sparked for me and set off something completely new. Something that’s filling in some backstory and giving me a big chunk of HEROES UNDER SEIGE.
So what should we talk about today? Does music inspire your writing? How? What kind? Any thoughts about Joss’s relationship with her dad that you’d like to share?