Friday, June 1, 2012

Justin Bieber Makes Me Funny

So, it's a common topic on the writing sites I frequent (like Absolute Write. If you aren't there yet, you should be and what is wrong with you?). Everyone wants to know if you (a) listen to music while you write and if so (b) what kind of music.

People fall into two camps on the music. Some can't imagine writing without a soundtrack and others find it distracting, would rather take hot pins into the eyes. Okay, that last is an exaggeration, but some really dislike music when trying to bleed words on a page. I like music.

Now of those who like music, some find that music with vocals and lyrics are distracting. No words must interfere with the words of the voices in their  head. I get this. I'm just not that way. I like people singing to me when I write, it's like my own personal cheering section. But I have a confession, something only those nearest and dearest to me know. I like bad music.

Not just bad music, but I love cheesy, fun pop music. You can keep your meaningful social commentary. For me, writing humorous Regency romances is all about the mood. I write best when I'm feeling chipper, a bit silly, when I'm laughing and bopping and singing along to Kei$ha or Justin Bieber or Usher. Even worse, my characters have theme songs.

Theme songs for my characters makes them real to me, makes me think about them in new ways. I find it terrifically motivating. In fact, if I'm driving in the car and a character's theme song comes on the radio, I start thinking about the character, hearing their voice. It's like a Pavlovian response. I'm primed and ready to write upon hearing that song.

So what sort of songs do I choose as character theme songs? Not great, classics. Nope. Oh, some of them are good songs and I like ALL of them, because I just do, but you can't trust my taste in music. I embarass my children, niether of whom would be caught dead listening to Britney Spears or Justin Bieber.

For Compromising Prudence, Pru's theme was "Girls Just Want to have Fun." Becoming Mr. Brooking, Edwina and Graham's song was Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." Tres romantique, non? But I listened to a lot of Justin Timberlake when writing that book. Like, way too much JT for my mental health. Graham's personal theme was "Rock Your Body." He's such a bad boy. For Death by Scandal, Lady Calandra's song was Christina Peri's "Bang, Bang, Bang."

And now I'm working on book 4 in the Mad Hatterly series. I'm pleased to announce (drum roll) that the book has been contracted and will be released by Musa Publishing October 15th. Yay! This time it's Henry's story. What sort of woman would be a match for the most free-spirited of the Mad Hatterlys? Why, the most buttoned-down, proper woman imaginable. You will remember her from Civilizing Frances. Book 4 will be Rescuing Lady Rose. Yes, that Lady Rose. I'll just pause a moment and let that sink in. Better now?

Turns out that Rose isn't quite so straight-laced as she appears and Henry isn't quite so feckless. He isn't the only man after Rose in this novel. To give you just a hint, Rose's theme is Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)." Henry's song is Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend." You knew I would get back to Bieber, right?

So, there it is. I like music with no value in it except as my entertainment. How about you? What sort of music gets you going? Are you a hipster, listening to stuff I never heard of or a classicist or a soulful blues type? Or do you like cheesy pop as much as I do? You can tell me.  I promise not to judge.


  1. OMG, OMG, Henry and LADY ROSE? That clunking noise is the sound of my jaw hitting the floor. Can. Not. Wait. To read this!

    I don't listen to music when I'm writing (damn music training makes me pay too much attention to the music and not the writing), but I love choosing songs that set the overall mood for the book and yes, they're usually pure entertainment. I love "Bad Romance" because it's so versatile. Other songs on my current story playlist: "Come Undone" by Duran Duran, "Alone" by Heart, "LIttle Wonders" by Rob Thomas, and "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence. For my next WIP, I have "That Was Yesterday" by Foreigner and "Somebody I Used To Know" (both the Gotye original and the Glee cover). ;)

  2. Ooh, good list. "Somebody I Used To Know" totally fits with Rescuing Lady Rose. :D

    My sister is just like you, Grace. She is musically trained and can't listen to music while she does other things. Music demands her full attention. Well, okay. She does listen to the radio and drive. Other than that, I don't think so.

  3. I like absolute quiet when I write. Even the dogs are put on notice.

    But before I write a love or battle scene I put on movie soundtracks to get me in the groove. The music goes off the moment I put fingertips to keypad.

    I never thought about giving my characters theme music. I'll bet it makes them easier to visualize that way too.

  4. I usually have the television on although I tune it out (so I don't know why I have it on, actually.) I find that with music, I tend to focus more on what I'm listening to and less on what I'm trying to write, so eventually, I just stop writing. I don't do that with the tv. Although some day, I'm going to create playlist for love songs for when I write love scenes. Some day. It will be done.

  5. @Maria: Try the theme song. It's good fun and really does help visualize them. Going into total geekdom territory here, but I sort of make music videos in my head with my characters. I probably need therapy.

    @Kim: TV is the ultimate white noise for my husband. He barely notices it's on, but for some reason the images tend to distract me more than just music.

  6. I'm on of those no-lyrics people but its good because that also triggers my writing mood since outside of writing I don't listen to that music.

    And I must admit to my embarrassment I like Justin Bieber's boyfriend. In my defense I didn't know he was the singer when I first heard it (never heard one of his songs before) and I thought hmmm, sounds like a young Justin Timberlake, who is this? When I found out it was him it was to late to un-like the song ;)

  7. @Katharina: that's exactly it! He sounds like the other Justin on that song. It's one of those ear worm things. Can't get it out of my head.