May 18 2013 9:00am

Art is Love: On Books and Music

Woman with headphones image by Daniele Zedda via FlickrEntertainment—whether it's books, music, TV, movies, or art—is a way for people to connect to those around them, escape from those around them, find an emotional touchstone, or simply entertain themselves. And since it's all entertainment, it's natural that the subgenres would blend into each other (it's not an accident that we cover TV and movies at Heroes and Heartbreakers as well as books—romantic fiction is spread across genres!).

It makes sense, then, that authors would get inspired by music, and vice versa. Many authors create playlists for the books they're writing, using the songs as a sort of Pavlov's dog to get them into the creative process. For example, in a post she wrote about the tracklist she did for Chaos Burning, Lauren Dane (whose twitter feed is filled with what she's listening to at the time) said,

Music is one of the things I use to keep my head in the story despite constant interruptions from kids, other books to deal with (copy edits, final pass pages, promotion, all that jazz).

Kit Rocha made a playlist to accompany the writing of Beyond Shame, the first book in the O'Kane Series. Abigail Roux, the author of the Touch & Geaux series, has a playlist for each of her books, Samantha Young shared what she was listening to while writing On Dublin Street, while Karen Marie Moning has often mentioned how much she was inspired by Linkin Park's music while writing the Fever series.

Just entering a search for “romance author playlist” brings up page and pages of authors sharing what they were listening to when they were writing their books. And more authors are taking their inspiration between the pages of their books, making their characters musicians, such as in Lauren Dane's Lush, whose Damien Hurley is a “ridiculously hot and very dirty rock star.”

Musicians have taken inspiration from books and authors as well; The Cure's “Killing an Arab” is based on Albert Camus's The Stranger, Echo and the Bunnymen's “My White Devil” is about the Jacobean playwright John Webster, Duran Duran's “The Wild Boys” is named for a William S. Burroughs song, while many bands have named themselves after books or authors—Uriah Heep (Charles Dickens), Veruca Salt (Roald Dahl), Modest Mouse (Virginia Woolf)—a mere sampling.

For the consumers of this entertainment, however, it might be difficult to take in both forms simultaneously—some people need absolute quiet to read, or at least they don't want to be distracted by some other form of entertainment (riding on the subway doesn't necessarily count as entertainment, though it can be). Do you listen to music when reading? Do you go listen to the songs your favorite author listened to while writing a particular book? Do you find out about music through books, and vice versa?

Woman with headphones image by Daniele Zedda via Flickr


Megan Frampton is the Community Manager for the HeroesandHeartbreakers site. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and son.

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Julia Broadbooks
1. juliabroadbooks
I'm one of those people where it really doesn't matter what is playing while I'm reading. Music, tv show, kids whining, I can ignore it all.
Leanne Segersin
2. LMS430
For me, it depends on how into the book I am...if I'm really into the story, it doesn't usually matter what's going on in the background I don't pay attention to it. Other times, I like a litle background music, ussually classical so I'm not half listening (and then start singing...)
Julia Quinn has started posting soundtracks to her books, which is fun (not necessarily what she was listening to when writing them).
Jennifer Proffitt
3. JenniferProffitt
I have two big associations with music and reading/writing. When I write I do have a "writing playlist" that is a weird mix of really mellow songs that I know like the back of my hand so that I can just chill out in whatever world I'm writing but block out outside noise. The other side of my writing playlist are songs that remind me of a scene. For example, Radioactive by Imagine Dragons is one that I always envision a fight scene with, which I think has a lot to do with the music video telling a similar story.
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