Monday, April 17, 2006


I once broke up with a guy in school (mutual thing) who kept getting up to change the CD while we were having our "this SO isn't working" talk. It took me a few minutes to realize what he was doing, but once I realized that he would only let one song play per CD before getting up to make a switch, it finally dawned on me that WE WERE BREAKING UP TO A SOUNDTRACK. I remember Sting being in there, but little else, since I bailed shortly after that little revelation, feeling free in more ways than one.

Anyway, I don't know how many people set life events to soundtracks in this way, but Mary at the Bandwagon posted a couple of days ago about having soundtracks for her books--lists of special songs that she would play while writing a particular manuscript, because they seemed to suit the characters and the plot, and offered her some inspiration.

It's an interesting idea. I haven't ever tried to compile an entire soundtrack for a book-in-progress. Generally, I find one song that seems to fit with a manuscript and basically kill it, playing it over, and over, and over, and over--ad nauseum, ad infinitum. Before I invested in a portable CD player (now an iPod) and a good pair of tiny headphones, I used to drive Jose nuts, as in. "Tracy, if you play that song one more time, I'm going to figure out a way to commit suicide with my TV dinner tray."

Funny thing is, I never got sick of those songs and can STILL listen to them, despite having set them on repeat for days on end.

Here's a short list of the songs that got me through my books to date (no laughing):

* Isabela's Dreams (Kensington Encanto)--Marc Anthony's "I Need to Know." This book had two archaeologists searching for the lost tomb of a Mayan queen. (I still have a stack of Mayan archaeology books in my library, in case anyone wants some details on pelota or human sacrifice back in the day.) They were, of course, former romantic partners whose love had gone sour, so the song about a guy trying to get a girl to confess her rumored love for him seemed to fit the push-pull dance they did as they worked their way toward the requisite happy ending.

* Angel, Mine (Kensington Encanto)--My agent and I pulled this book because the line was about to die, so it never made it into print. I still hope it might, someday. But anyway, I just went one song down on the Marc Anthony disk, to "You Sang to Me" while writing this one. It's a lovely song about how someone didn't notice how much in love he was until it just smacked him in the face (Anthony puts it better than that). Which worked with my widowed heroine who was afraid to find happiness again, even with the hot P.I. helping her unravel the mystery of her missing boss.

* Maximum Security (Harlequin Intrigue)--This was my darkest book to date, so the song I killed while writing it was "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence, which hadn't been overplayed at the time. Toward the end, I started listening to the whole album, which has a nice goth feeling that matched my serial killer story.

* House of Secrets (Harlequin Intrigue)--I wrote my psychogenic amnesia story mainly to the Lord of the Rings: Two Towers soundtrack. After getting so dark in Maximum Security, I just wanted to lighten up a little, without losing all of my edge. So the soft yet by turns menacing and melancholy soundtrack worked well.

* Next of Kin (Harlequin Intrigue)--I pretty much played any Celia Cruz song I could get my hands on while I wrote this story of a pyromaniac vengeance killer. The heroine's name was Celia, and I saw her as just as much of a firecracker as Celia Cruz.

* Shadow Guardian (Harlequin Intrigue)--This was the hardest book I've ever written. I don't know why--maybe it was having to do the three books of the "Mission: Family" miniseries so close together, or maybe it was just that it was my turn to have a book to struggle with. Either way, I've blocked out most of the writing process with this one. I do remember that it involved copious amounts of pinot grigio as I did my best impression of a drunken 18th century poet, as well as a couple songs the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (terrible movie, great soundtrack)--namely Yerba Buena's "Guajira (I Love You Too Much)," despite the fact that there wasn't a guajira to be found in the book, and Wyclef Jean's "Dance Like This" (which is now the foundation of Shakira's latest hit, "Hips Don't Lie").


Paula said...

I like to have music playing when I write, but it tends to be instrumental stuff. However, I do set up soundtracks for my WIPs on my computer so that I can listen to them to get myself in the mood for the books.

I'm about to start a book set on a fictional Caribbean island, and I'm slap out of Caribbean music at the moment. Hmm, guess I better figure out whether this island has a Spanish, French, Dutch or English influence, huh?

(And if I qualify for the free book, don't worry about it--I think I already own all of your back list). I will, however, put a blog post on my on blog directing people that you have FREE BOOKS over here. :)


Tracy Montoya said...

I like the idea of setting up soundtracks, Paula. I should try that.

Just FYI, the soundtracks to 50 First Dates and The Mighty Quinn have some nice island music on them. I actually love island books--sounds like fun!

And, wow, thanks for getting the backlist! Not that it's that huge or anything.... Thanks for the link, too!

Paula said...

I'll check out those soundtracks, Tracy.

And I bought up your backlist because I loved HOUSE OF SECRETS so darned much.

Tracy Montoya said...

Thanks, Paula. That's a very sweet thing to say. : )

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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