Music & Mood

Writing a novel can be very emotionally demanding. As an author, you're creating conflict and desire and motivation and reasoning—and all out of nothing. You're not only breathing life into your characters, but you're also building a universe around them. Sustaining that momentum for 50,000+ words is nearly enough to drive a person mad.

The biggest influence on my writing is music, and I listen to certain artists depending on what kind of emotion I'm attempting to evoke. The novel that I'm currently writing, Sleep to Dream, centers around two teenagers, Pepper and Liam, who who fall in love very quickly. Young love is obsessive, and irrational, and all-consuming, and it's very important to handle it accordingly.

The soundtrack I chose for this particular novel is Dashboard Confessional. I haven't listened to them in years, but there's something about Chris Carrabba's raw, heartbreaking emotion that seems appropriate. Take, for example, lyrics from "Hands Down": My hopes are so high that your kiss might kill me. So won't you kill me, so I die happy. My heart is yours to fill or burst, to break or bury, or wear as jewelery, which ever you prefer. That's new teenage love in a nutshell—at least, it was for me. And that's the level of irrational desire that I'm attempting to portray through my characters.

Like any good story, there's so much more to it than that. The book opens with my main character, Pepper, in a state of sleep paralysis. It's a pretty crazy phenomenon that I've only experienced once, and didn't realize it at the time. It was only after researching other individuals' experiences that I knew I had to work it into a story. I've written a considerate amout of supernatural/horror, and I'm taking a much more subtle approach with this one—an approach that was inspired by the indie film Don't Go in the Woods. Apparently the folks on IMDB weren't too impressed, but I watched this recently on Netflix Instant, and it really stuck with me. It begins as an indie rock campfire musical, and then people start getting murdered. It's a dicotomy that, as both a music and horror lover, I completely appreciate.

This has been an interesting National Novel Writing Month for me. It's the least prepared I've felt since I started NaNoWriMo, and it's also the least prepared I've felt going into any novel in years. Don't ask me how in the world I've penned 28,000 words since November 1, because I have no idea where they came from. But writers can't depend on inspiration alone. We work through the dry spells. We create in spite of being busy, or drained, or just plain tired. We keep doing it even though sometimes we don't know why we keep doing it. So far I have no freaking clue how to end this book, but I can assure you that I will. And if you're also trying to write a novel this overcast November, I wish you the best of luck, and hope your creativity is flowing much more freely than mine.