Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sountracks? For books?!

I’ve noticed two trends in Authorland lately: book trailers and book “soundtracks”. I’m on the fence about book trailers; I like the idea of reaching readers with the same sort of clips they’re used to seeing for movies, but a part of what I enjoy about reading is painting my own mental pictures as the tale unfolds in front of me. Negotiating that shared mental space is a lovely dance between author and reader, and I’m not sure how I feel about something cutting in on that dance.

But a playlist for a book—now that I can get behind wholeheartedly. 

Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the 80's and spent my childhood frolicking through the creative playground of mix tapes, I don’t know. But there’s something about pulling out just the right song to communicate a mood or sentiment that feels like a cool retro scavenger hunt to me. I’ve spent more hours than I can count sorting through stacks of CDs (or nowadays, iTunes playlists) and scouring lyrics to find the perfect blend of music for parties and sweethearts. Why not for a book?

So, I decided to put one together for the book I just finished, Deadly Avatar (Previously called MMORPG); it’s about a serial killer who hunts for his victims online in World of Warcraft. In fact, as I began I realized I already had a head start on my list; there are several songs woven into the book as part of the plot. I added those into Spotify first thing, and I was on my way. 

As I scoured my stash of songs for entries that would represent the different phases of my story, I discovered something very cool. Finding the right song to capture what I’m looking for is a lot like choosing just the right word or phrase to communicate the emotion or mood I’m targeting in my writing. In some instances it’s a case of tapping into a shared cultural vibe; for example, I chose ‘The Heat Is On’ to represent the police investigation in the book, because it comes with a web of instant preset associations. Other selections rely on lyrics that communicate something relevant to my story, or a mood set by the melody. And in most cases, when I chose song X over song Y, I did so because song X conveyed an extra layer of meaning; in some cases, that extra meaning is only clear once you've read the book, and I enjoyed adding in those little insider nods. So in many ways, the act of creating a playlist that conveyed what I wanted it to was an extension of the book itself.  

And that was just plain FUN to puzzle out. 

Here’s what I ended up with, created on Spotify:

If you haven’t tried this out yet, I highly recommend it. What better excuse to pull out a bunch of old tunes and listen to some great music? And nobody can say you’re procrastinating, because it’s all in the name of promoting your book! Therapeutic and productive, all at the same time, you can't beat that! ;-) 

Happy writing,


  1. This is a great idea! I'll definitely be doing a soundtrack for my work in progress once I get it done.


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