I was just a kid in the eighties. I didn’t have any opinions about music. My sister did. She was in high school during the eighties and listened to KROQ faithfully. By default, I did, too. Her favorite bands were mine: Duran Duran, Bananarama, Berlin, Spandau Ballet. These were the songs that connected us, and this is the music that served as the soundtrack to Kat’s Nine Lives, my fifth book, due out this fall.
I’m not a plotter which means that day by day, I discover where the story is going. I remember the day the eighties saved me when I got stuck. Kat and her love interest, Wendy, are in a stone cottage, and backstory I didn’t want to get into yet was really darkening the scene. In real life when things get tough, my daughter has learned to plug in The Go-Go’s to turn things around, so I thought I’d try it in writing as well.
I hesitated to include songs of any sort in the book. Referencing music is a tricky thing in writing, not only because it can alienate someone unfamiliar with the artist or song, but also because of scary things like copywrite. See Karin Kallmaker’s blog Should You? Using Song Lyrics in Fiction for more on that. But I started singing, and then my characters were singing, and the mood turned around.
After that, songs started to pull me through whole sections of the book. I’d brainstorm with my sister, firing song titles to her and shrieking with delight when she reminded me of other favorites. Do other decades match the eighties as well in being able to move from the question of whether a character is “Head Over Heels” or whether she “Might Like You Better if We Slept Together”? Isn’t the question of any romance, “Why Can’t This Be Love”?
If you’re a reader, I hope the songs that connect Kat and Wendy don’t toss you out of the story. If you don’t know the songs, I think you’d have some fun pulling up the videos on YouTube and dancing along. I know that The Go-Gos always brightens my day, and I hope this new book brightens yours!