QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Your Author Playlist

Shutterstock photo by Stokkete
Creating a playlist for your novel is all the rage. The first time I saw this done was over at the Largehearted Boy blog, a hip outlet for all things music and literature. But now, novel playlists are as common as autumn leaves. I find them appended to the ends of eBooks, or as part of a book launch blog tour. For books with musical themes, they can be great fun.

If music is another of your interests, I hope you’ve read Steve Almond’s Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life. Not only is it a gut-busting funny read, Almond has many wise things to say about the mingling of fiction writing with song composition. As a music critic-turned-fiction writer, Almond has spent years analyzing the interplay between a good lyric and a good story. (Warning: in parts, the book is quite raunchy. And so funny that people will stare at you in the coffee shop as you try not to spit up your latte.)

But allow me a meta moment here. Forget about your characters and the fictional story you’ve built. What’s your playlist as an author? Since pop stars face the same challenges authors face, including writer’s block and copious rejections, there is some wonderful overlap in the canon.

I present to you an author’s playlist, with thanks to all the other QT bloggers for their contributions.

  1. We must lead off with Paperback Writer, by The Beatles. "Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? / It took me years to write, will you take a look?"
  2. Two songs from CAKE’s Fashion Nugget fit the bill. Open Book is perfect for NaNoWriMo. "She’s writing / she's weaving / conceiving a plot." 
  3. And their Sad Songs and Waltzes is an hysterical riff on writing for revenge. The jilted lover has put it all into his music. Yet the object of the song need not fear, because “sad songs and waltzes aren’t selling this year.”
  4. Elvis Costello’s Everyday I Write the Book. Does this feel familiar? "Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal / I'd still own the film rights and be working on the sequel."
  5. Bonnie Raitt’s Luck of the Draw (written by Paul Brady) tells the story of waiting for success. "Tomorrow's letter by the hall doorway / Could be the answer to your prayers."
  6. BranVan 3000’s Drinking in L.A. humorously details the pitfalls of both procrastination and a floppy synopsis.
  7. Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark is an achingly apt plea for success.
  8. Mr. Writer by the Stereophonics is an (ill advised) battle cry over poor reviews.
Tell us, what are your favorites?

Sarah Pinneo
is a novelist, food writer and book publicity specialist. Her most recent book is Julia’s Child. Follow her on twitter at @SarahPinneo.


mj compton said...

How about Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind ?
"If I could read your mind, love,
What a tale your thoughts could tell . . .
Just like a paperback novel
The kind that drugstores sell
When you reach the part where the heartaches come
The hero would be me"

Sarah P said...

Good one, Molly!

Shannon Schuren said...

I'd add "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield. Always gets me motivated!

Keith Cronin said...

I'd add Bob Seger's "Against the Wind" to the list, because he utterly nails one of a writer's biggest challenges:

"What to leave in, what to leave out."

Jane Lebak said...

When my agent and I were working on my book's pitch letter, at one point I sent her the lyrics to Paperback Writer, modified a bit to more closely resemble my story. I wondered if from two hundred miles away I'd be able to hear her eye roll at my expense. :-)

Rosie said...

Now I'll be hearing Elvis Costello in my head all day as I work on Book 2.