My latest work in progress is tentatively titled Happy Howlidays. Yup, it takes place in my shapeshifter universe but it involves a completely new cast of characters and there are no dead bodies or blood. Well, there's some figurative blood because of family dynamics during the holidays, but that's it.
My hero, Joe Blackwolf, is a lead singer/lead guitarist in a rock band. The story opens on his fiftieth birthday where he's wondering what he's got to show for his life. Years of touring, but no home and no pups. Complications arise when he meets his True Mate, Mandy Goldwolf. He thinks she has a mate and he discovers she is the only daughter of two True Mated musicians in his new band, The Pack. Even worse in Joe's eyes, Mandy is only 35.
Mandy isn't mated, but she told her mother she was in order to get some breathing room on the ever present topic of "when am I going to get some grandpups?" Well, Mandy has some 'splaining to do because she doesn't tell Joe the truth right away. Instead, they do the wild thing in an empty office between sets. Now she has to straighten out the mess she created by lying to her mother and not telling Joe the truth before he found out in a very public way. On top of all that, Mandy has to convince the love of her life, he isn't too old for her. And all before Christmas.
So what do I listen to in order to get in the mood to write this? Well, I've created a Christmas mix for later. But right now, here are the top ten songs I'm using for inspiration and why:
Wanted Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi
Great guitar riffs at the opening and it describes life on the road really well. It fits Joe's mindset at the opening of my story. Tired, jaded, but loving the life he's led for the last thirty years. Like Bon Jovi - Joe's "seen a million faces and he's rocked them all."
Turn The Page - Bob Seger
Another song about life on the road. The mood of this song is mournful. I love the sense of "other" Seger sings about when going into restaurants. "Is that a woman or a man?" Joe's always had long hair so this is part of his background. Sometimes listening to the right songs, gets me inside the core of a character faster than anything else. This one helps a lot.
Sweet Child O'Mine - Guns and Roses
This one opens the concert at the opening of the book. One of the most recognizable opening guitar riffs ever. I can see Joe playing this clear as day. He hasn't met Mandy, but this is who she'll come to represent to him. (No, not his child - find the lyrics and you'll know what I mean).
Rockstar - Nickelback
This is just tongue in cheek funny. Joe's a working rock musician, not a rock star. He almost can't imagine the "Rock Star" life. He's good enough to have made it but wasn't really willing (as he feels ) to lose a piece of himself to make it. So he makes fun of the life by singing a cover of this song. Most of his band mates are influenced by the sixties and seventies greats. Joe is more eighties and nineties because he's always been the oldest member of a band in the past.
He sings this at the close of a concert, directed at Mandy. He's found out she isn't just the band groupie she pretended to be. She gets up to dance and lifts her blonde to assure him "no bleach" which he already knows. Intimately. He may be really ticked at her but she makes him laugh.
BTW, if you've never seen the video for this song, seek it out. It is hilarious. You'll see one of the guys from ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, Gene Simmons, Wayne Gretzky, and blond Playboy bunnies and many more in cameo appearances. Nickelback doesn't even appear in this video until the last couple of bars of the song. It is a killer video. (You can't tell I'm a Nickelback fan, can you?)
The Load Out/Stay - Jackson Browne
Encore time. More life on the road, but this is dedicated to the audience. Kind of a "thank you" for coming. I've always loved this song, and I'm sure a lot of bands have covered this tun through the years. Mandy's mom plays the keyboards, but Joe sings it. I love the way The Load Out just segues into Stay. It's a great encore tune.
Somebody's Baby - Jackson Browne
Joe catches sight of Mandy and he's sure she's already somebody's baby and would never want him. At the same time, because of her mother's pressure, she wants to be somebody's baby. Mandy wants Joe...right away. She wants to belong to him, so she steps out of character to be his. From that point on, they have to unravel the complications in order to get together.
Angel Eyes - The Jeff Healey Band
Joe's view of Mandy. He can't believe she could or should want him. I've loved this song ever since Jeff Healey was featured in RoadHouse. This song has a real blues flavor mixed with the rock and Healey's rough voice makes this song a must hear. It fits Joe's view of Mandy - untouchable - yet there's nothing he wants more than to touch her. Love her. sigh... Yeah, I love this one.
Angel - Aerosmith
Angel is Joe's nickname for Mandy. Great love song with good guitar riffs. He's crying and aching for her. He wants her to come and save him. Totally fits the story and the characters. I love Aerosmith. Between Steven Tyler's vocals and Joe Perry's guitar, they're gold practically every time they perform.
This song is bittersweet for Mandy and Joe because of the context of its appearance in the story. I've made up my mind to have it make a reappearance late in the story. I could even see this becoming "their song." I'll let you know.
Faithfully - Journey
Mandy has never liked life on the road, but Joe is a musician. He can't stop or he'll stop being who he is. In his past, long distance relationships have crashed and burned. But with Mandy, he's willing to try...Faithfully. Mandy is willing to give up some of her security to travel with him at times, while she provides him a home base to come back to. The love and passion between them is too much for them to ignore. Ah, HEA. I love romances.
Yeah, I know these songs are more geared toward my hero, but that's how I write. I tend to know my hero inside and out and learn about my heroine as he learns about her. I know others write differently, but this works for me. Hope you enjoyed my playlist.
When you are writing what do you listen to? Do you create a playlist? Do your songs have words or are they classical so they don't distract you?
If you're a reader, do you turn on background music when you're reading or do you prefer silence so you can immerse yourself in the story?