Does writing about 1918 mean I only listen to music from that particular year for inspiration? Not at all. I've familiarized myself with songs from the era to get a solid feel for the time period, but my soundtrack for In the Shadow of Blackbirds consists of music from various decades.
Descending backward from the newest song to the oldest, here's my list of tunes that have helped me dig deep into the emotions of my characters and breathe life into a haunted historical world.
The Cave, Mumford & Sons
The first time I heard Mumford & Sons belt out, "I will hold on hope," I felt the same passion I experience when writing about my sixteen-year-old protagonist's battle to survive during her terrifying moment in history. The song perfectly exemplifies her perseverance and her fight to help others along the way.
People Say, Portugal. The Man
A song that questions a modern-day war, but it reminds me of my character's growing bitterness toward government leaders when the first world war takes away her loved ones. In 1918 America, protestors of WWI would have risked arrest, their safety, and their very lives for singing a song like this—but that didn't mean there weren't plenty of Americans who felt sick about sending their boys off to battle.
The Fine Art of Poisoning, Jill Tracy
I've loved this song ever since I first met Jill Tracy through my Suburban Vampire blog a few years ago. The music and its stylish video epitomize In the Shadow of Blackbird's dark, gothic flavor so well that I'm going to attach the clip here:
Ah, Morrisey's sweet ode to spirit communication. Reverse the genders of the singer and the ghost he's trying to reach, and you'll get a feel for my main character's desperate longing to find someone who "has now gone from this unhappy planet."
Catch the Wind, Donovan
The lyrics of this 1965 classic are absolutely gorgeous. The song provides the perfect emotional fuel for creating a character who's aching during the darkness and craving the companionship of an unattainable loved one.
Keep the Home Fires Burning, composed by Ivor Novello, words by Lena Gilbert Ford
All right, here's a song from my novel's actual time period. Many WWI songs were written to boost morale and inspire men to march off to battle ("Over There," "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag," etc.), but I found myself listening to this 1914 hit the most. I know I keep bringing up the word "longing," but that's an emotion that runs throughout In the Shadow of Blackbirds, and you can palpably feel that same sense of yearning in "Keep the Home Fires Burning." Here's a lovely version of the song from Katie Melua, with clips of young WWI soldiers.
Be sure to check out book soundtracks from other Lucky 13s authors all this week.
Cat Winters lives near Portland, Oregon, but she was born and raised in Southern California suburbia, just a short drive down the freeway from Disneyland. When she was around seven years old, she found a book about "real" ghosts in her school library and was both terrified and mesmerized by the idea that ghosts might actually exist. From that point forward, she became hooked on dark tales.
Her debut YA novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds (a ghost story, of course), is coming Spring 2013 from Amulet Books. She's represented by the fabulous Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. You can catch Cat online at CatWinters.com, Twitter, and Facebook.