Friday, April 12, 2013

The Songs of The Grief Book

At three in the morning yesterday... err, today, I sent off a draft of my latest YA novel to my agent. We'll call it The Grief Book for now since that is how I operate--no real titles, just vague descriptions--when talking about book that are not yet published in public. It's a contemporary YA about girl who's lost her older brother, and while not really coping with that, ends up in an emotionally abusive relationship. I've been working on it since August. I've been completely immersed in getting it finished for the past couple weeks. It's been practically all I thought about, so I almost don't know what to do with myself now. I'm still just living it, in my head, and especially, as usual through music.

For a long time I couldn't write while listening to music. I would create playlists of songs that reminded me of the story that I would listen when do everything but writing to keep me inspired, but while I was typing, especially drafting, my office remained silent. That started to change last year with the (abandoned for now, but being rethought) Modern Myth YA, and when I started working on The Grief Book, I realized I needed a certain sound and I needed it on repeat while working. Those bands have shifted and changed from the beginning to the end (because you do get sick of listening to the same thing day in and day out, no matter how much you love it) and my playlist for this book is a couple of scattered songs mixed with full albums and sometimes entire catalogs of certain bands. There's over a hundred songs on it.... and I still think I listened to it at least twice yesterday.

Anyway since that music still feels like MY SOUL right now because this book is still MY SOUL, I thought I'd share some of it via this YouTube playlist. 

It's pretty much in the order that I discovered that I needed the songs/bands as my muse. The two Hole songs have been with me since I started this project and so has the Dinosaur Jr. song. They were the first band I was inspired to listen to over and over again while writing. Green Mind, Where You Been, and Without a Sound are all on the playlist in full.

I added Farewell Continental to my list of inspirations pretty early on, too, and "New Tile Floor" especially speaks to the story/characters. The Wheels are a local band whose whole EP is on my playlist, but "Front Porch" is the song I listen to most.  I have a character named Riley and one named Justin and the songs with their names in suit them or their story arc in a way. The first Sunny Day Real Estate album is on the playlist mostly in full, but "In Circles," is totally a theme song. "Reach for the Sky" and "Blackbird" both figure into the story directly. "Try" could be a theme song for my main character, Meredith, and "What Sarah Said" pretty much sums up the worst day of her life, and "One Last Time" by Veruca Salt (which I sadly couldn't find a full version of on YouTube) is telling of her relationship. As for "Say Hello to Heaven," well, it is The Grief Book.

In terms of the other bands whose albums appear in full on my personal playlist, when I needed to go beyond Dinosaur Jr., I turned to Hum, a favorite from my high school years, whose music and lyrics work as well as Dinosaur setting the mood for this story. The Soulsavers were my biggest discovery during the writing of this book. My friend Jenny introduced me to them at the end of January and I pretty much listened to their albums "Broken" and "It's Not How Far You Fall, It's How You Land" on repeat for the past two months while shaping the last part of the book. When I needed a break from that, and was craving a female voice, I realized Mazzy Star was perfect.

So there it is, the new book in songs.

And now to take a week or two off while my agent reads it. Well, now to TRY to take a week off from it mentally.


Katherine said...

So glad to see "Riley" on there! That song always reminds me of your writing. My top grief song--the one that quite literally pulled me out of the deepest hole in my life--is Frank Turner's "Long Live the Queen." The book sounds great!

Rachel said...

Oh man. I am SO excited for this. I've been waiting what feels like forever for your next book. From what I can see here, it's definitely going to be worth that wait. :)

Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

Congratulations on finishing your draft!! :)

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks everyone!! I hope you all get to read it soon!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Maybe you could have a readers' playlist, where you could include those songs for specific scenes; then your readers could listen to those songs as they read the book. I never thought of relating characters or themes to specific songs, but it's an interesting idea.

Unknown said...

I wait impatiently for the day I get to buy and read your new book =p

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Neurotic Workaholic- I would love to do that! Great idea!

Alex, doing my best to get it out there :)