I’ve been interested in music for much longer than I’ve been writing, so it’s hardly surprising my stories and my characters are influenced by the songs I listen to. Whenever I start a new book, I pick out a playlist to serve as soundtrack to the writing. Same when I need to get to know a new character.
This week, I started the first pass of revisions on Lost Dogs #3: A Freak Among Freaks.
Naturally, I decided to put together a new playlist. The book has a different main character, and while Alene and Roy have their similarities they’re not the same people, so of course her soundtrack is different. What surprised me, and what inspired this blog post, was how much Alene’s soundtrack has changed over time. It may sound obvious, but it really wasn’t expected.
When I started picking out a playlist for the revision of this book, I began by looking through the playlists I made for Lost Dogs #10: Nothing Left to Lose (there are four of them). That’s the most recent book in the series, and it also featured Alene as the main character. However, almost none of the songs for book #10 fit with who Alene is in book #3.
The playlists for book #10 were full of slow, dark songs. Strange electronic music with a lot of depth, subtle messages, and meaningful lyrics. That’s cool and all, because it’s reflective of who Alene is in book #10. Both me and the reader know her better, and the story is more introspective. It’s not who Alene is when we first meet her, though.
In book #3, Alene’s music is loud, angry, and dirty – and so is she.
There’s almost no actual punk music, but punk describes the feel I’m going for. Aggressive music with more attitude than substance. A sonic punch in the gut, if you will.
Sure, there are calm, quiet songs in the list as well, but they’re a minority, just like the loud angry songs were a small part of the playlists for book #10.
This fascinated me.
Alene is the main character of books #3, #4, #7, #9, and #10, which is probably in the vicinity of 200,000 words of story. It’s safe to say she’s come a long way – even if it’s been less than a month as far as the story goes. The things she’s gone through has affected her, but even then, I’d be hard pressed to put into words just how she’s changed.
With music, it was easy.
Right away, I could tell whether a song fit Alene or not. Does this piece of music feel like the person she is?
How is it that a song can say much about someone?
I have no good answer to that, but what I will do is give a few example of the music that represents Alene during the revisions of Lost Dogs #3 (and #4 – there’s not much change between those two). As such, here are three different tracks:
This may very well be the most “Alene” song ever. It’s loud, noisy, drum and bass, and it’s got Skin from Skunk Anansie on the vocals. I didn’t really listened to Skunk Anansie when they were big, but I knew their big hits, and I’ve seen the videos. Skin, the singer, was a big part of the inspiration for how I picture Alene in my head when writing.
For this one, the lyrics aren’t all that important, it’s about the sound, the vibe, and the attitude.
Despite what I said above about how the music has changed for Alene throughout her story, this is one of the songs that has stuck around for a long time. It represents standing up for yourself and about not taking any shit, and while that doesn’t always happen in the books, it’s still an attitude I want to associate with Alene.
Third out is K.Flay. This could very well be the theme tune for both the third and fourth book. The attitude is there, the lyrics fit, and the energy shifts back and forth. It’s quiet, a bit repressed, and then it explodes.
There we go. Three tracks to represent Alene. What are your thoughts on this? If you’ve read the books, do you agree?