Soundtracks for novels? Heck, yeah!
I made Spotify playlists for each of my three Lexy Cooper novels— “Schooled” – Lexy’s Playlist, “Pwned” – Lexy’s Playlist, and “Griefed” – Lexy’s Playlist. I start creating the playlist while I write the book, so readers can follow along as it evolves. The music can provide clues to the book’s action. Some songs will be cut, and swapped out, but by the time the book is released to the public, the playlist is locked down and can’t be changed.
Sometimes I refer to these playlists as “soundtracks,” but that’s not really accurate. There is no ambient music, no furious violins during an action scene, etc. They are real songs that are mentioned in the book.
Why do I do this? I enjoy it, certainly, but some of the song lyrics add a layer of meaning to the text. And since I can’t use the lyrics in the text without getting permission and paying fees, I leave the song title like a clue in the text. If you want to delve further in, great, you will get a little more insight than the reader who doesn’t.
For example. In Schooled, Lexy and Detective Malick are arguing about Lexy’s boyfriend, Nate. He’s no good and Mike hates that she’s involved with him. This is the conversation they have:
Mike put the key in the ignition and turned the engine over. He’d been listening to the classic rock station and Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic” was playing.
“Lexy, I’m sorry I brought it up.”
“I know you hate him. All my friends hate him. I get it.”
“I don’t hate him. I just don’t want you to get hurt.”
Lexy turned to face him. “I guarantee you I’m going to get hurt. But that’s my choice.”
“I don’t understand it, but okay.” He drove her home.
“Crosstown Traffic” includes the lyrics
You tell me it’s alright, you don’t mind a little pain
You say you just want me to take you for a drive
Jimi’s lyrics echo Lexy’s statement about it being her choice to get hurt by Nate.
The Pwned (Lexy 2) playlist includes songs Lexy listens to when she’s heartbroken, a song Mike hums at a museum exhibit, songs playing in the strip club Officer Yi is investigating, and tunes Lexy belts out in a drunken karaoke scene.
In Griefed (the third Lexy mystery, which comes out in February 2014) there is even a playlist mentioned in the book. Lexy has a Justin Timberlake playlist called “My Boy JT.” Readers can follow that list, too.
Playlists allow me to set a mood, make a statement (subtle or otherwise) and share music with my readers. Most of all, though, they’re fun for me to create and hopefully for people to listen to.