Musical Inspiration for a Love Story
I've only recently been introduced to the concept of creating a playlist to go along with a book. I'd seen it done before, mind you, but I never really associated that idea with the way I write. Then my magnificent friend, Arlem Hawks, started asking our writing group what songs we thought matched up to our characters and their love stories. I happened to be starting work on Miss Devon's Choice at the time, and my hero in that novel is a musician. I was struggling to capture him on paper the way he was in my head, so I started listening to violin music. Suddenly, he came to life.
Every time I struggled with a scene in Miss Devon's Choice, I found a song I thought conveyed the emotion of a character or the overall feelings I was trying to create between the two of them. Before I knew it, I had a playlist I listened to every time I started to write about Christian and Rebecca.
Now that a few months have gone by since the book was published, I still find myself listening to that particular list. I'm going to share it here, and I think this will be part of my writing process for all future books, too.
For your reading AND listening pleasure, the Rebecca & Christian Playlist.
The Music that Inspired Miss Devon's Choice
Beethoven's Five Secrets
The Piano Guys
Inspired: This is such a beautiful piece, combining classical music with a modern hit, and every time I listened to it I could practically see several different scenes in my head. The beautiful Annesbury estate, where my story takes place, with the storm clouds moving across the sky. There's something triumphant and beautiful about this music. If you know the lyrics to the modern song, the sweeping notes taking the place of the words "Give all my secrets away," just had me picture Christian, holding back his heart from Rebecca and the world, but longing to confide in her. This was the song I played when I wrote their argument.
Inspired: Rebecca. So much of this song is Rebecca, all her hopes for the future, and how she wants to see Christian and have him see her. "Days are good and that's the way it should be." She's just this optimist, this starry-eyed young woman who is determined to have a love story, whether or not the hero wants one!
Awake My Soul
Mumford & Sons
Inspired: Christian. This is so, so, so Christian. "Now my heart stumbles on things I don't know." Aren't those beautiful words? I wish I'd written them. This is such a sad song, full of longing, about someone who can't and won't trust others. "How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes." He doesn't trust himself to love, he doesn't trust anyone to love him without causing him pain. It's Christian. He wants love but fears it. He lost his parents. This song mentions love, life, and death. When I needed to write a good brooding Christian scene, I listened to this on repeat. There's almost an edge to the song, or so I imagine, of anger or impatience.
Inspired: When Rebecca and Christian are hurting, this is their song, as individuals and a couple. It's about being afraid, being hopeless, confused. "Does it take courage to learn how to cry? So many winding roads. So many miles to go." They are two young people trying to feel their way to love. Even though Rebecca powers through with her plan, she's often discouraged and can't see that she's making much headway. Will Christian ever love her back? And he's terrified to let anyone in.
After the Storm
Inspired: This is an instrumental piece, and it's sweeping. It reminds me a lot of the soundtrack for the 2005 Pride & Prejudice. The music just fits with the time period so well. You can feel the sun breaking through the clouds with this song. I listened to it a lot when writing scenes from Christian's point of view, because I imagine he would appreciate the beauty in the various instruments playing.
Inspired: This is Rebecca as she falls in love with Christian, begging him to keep trying, to keep leaving her breathless - especially after that first kiss! She gets so excited, she wants him to woo her. Pretty much set this on repeat every time I had Rebecca excited about falling for the somewhat surly viscount.
The Man You Love
Inspired: This song was really important to me from the moment Christian found out about the reason Rebecca is so desperate to have a loving marriage. I love this version, especially, because of the different languages these four men sing.
Ed Sheeran featuring Andrea Bocelli
Inspired: That aching, sweet moment when Christian and Rebecca are in the tree house together. When he starts to tell her about his past, his mother and father. And again. When he's so conflicted, holding his mother's necklace, trying to decide if he can risk his heart. I loved the original, with just Ed Sheeran, but as soon as I heard this version, I honestly cried. English. Italian. The lyrics to this song always strike me as fragile. And as much as I describe Christian as being a physically capable man, his heart is already so broken. Trusting her with his heart takes a type of strength he doesn't know he has. And she is so willing, so gentle, in showing him what they can have together. If I had to pick ONE SONG to underscore the book, this might be it.
Gianni Schicchi: O mio babbino caro
Inspired: This is a beautiful instrumental piece from an album called "Romance of the Violin." This is the music of Christian's heart. This is his theme, from beginning to end. And it's especially right for the moment when Christian declares his love to Rebecca in front of a ballroom full of people, serenading her on his violin. His music is such a huge part of who he is and how he expresses himself.
So. There were more songs I listened to, of course, but these were my favorites. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the process of writing Miss Devon's Choice.
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Sally Britton's books on Goodreads
His Bluestocking Bride (Branches of Love #3)
ratings: 1062 (avg rating 4.21)
The Earl and His Lady (Branches of Love #4)
ratings: 1008 (avg rating 4.36)
The Gentleman Physician (Branches of Love #2)
ratings: 680 (avg rating 4.20)
The Social Tutor (Branches of Love #1)
ratings: 656 (avg rating 4.11)
Miss Devon's Choice (Branches of Love #5)
ratings: 517 (avg rating 4.45)