Friday, November 25, 2011

What’s Your Book’s Soundtrack?

Whether we’re writers or readers, the addition of music to a story can hugely impact our experience of it. Movies really demonstrate this, with music adding an unforgettable element to deepen the emotional punch of the action and dialogue on screen.

Compiling the Soundtrack for MAID OF SECRETS proved to be an intriguing challenge. The story is about a wry, resourceful thief forced to join an elite group of spies in Queen Elizabeth’s court – to solve a murder, save the crown, and resist the most dangerous temptation of all… falling in love. But the book is set in Sixteenth Century England, and just for the record, that time period is NOT given to super fun music.

I already knew the girls had a bit of a rocker/punk vibe—much more A KNIGHT’S TALE than CAMELOT. Even my brief ‘book video’ is backed by a tune that wouldn’t make it to the Queen’s concert hall.

So instead of a true soundtrack, I’ve gathered a series of songs that speak to some element of each of my spy girls and a few other key friends. I include them below – and then want to know… what’s YOUR soundtrack to your favorite book… whether you wrote it or read it?



Meg Fellowes, the heroine of MAID OF SECRETS, has been living a role her whole life… first as a thief, then as an unofficial actress for her traveling acting troupe, and now as a spy to the Queen. But who is Meg really?


Rafe's song: Way Cool Jr. - Ratt

Meg gets some unexpected (and unwanted) help from a mysterious Spanish spy, Count Rafe de Martine. Rafe is the original bad boy, and definitely not someone you can trust… which is why we’re throwing him back to the Hair Band rockers of the 80s to find his song.


Beatrice's song: Material Girl - Madonna

This one will also take you way (way) back to the 80s, but no one captures Beatrice’s confidence and style like Madonna. As the darling of the Queen’s court, Beatrice knows everyone’s secrets. But there’s also a secret of her own that she’s desperate to hide.

Anna's song: Firework - Katy Perry

Anna is the smartest girl in the room—even when she doesn’t want to be. Lost in her world of intricate puzzles and mysteries to solve, she sometimes feels on the outside looking in when it comes to being a part of a group. Her inner light, however, is just beginning to shine.

The youngest spy, Sophia is rumored to have the Sight… only her powers haven’t manifested yet. Despite that, she’s already up to her ears in danger that lurks just beyond the shadows.

Jane hasn’t had it easy. As the assassin of the spy group, she’s seen her share of tragedy, beginning with a deadly attack on her village that haunts her still. Now she must fight the demons in her memory… even as she defends the Queen.


Queen Elizabeth's song: Super Girl - Hillary Duff

Speaking of the Queen: in MAID OF SECRETS we find an Elizabeth I who’s just come to power… at only 25 years old. With half the kingdom praising her and half wanting her dead, it’s going to take a Super Girl to stay on top.

So once again, what about you?? What’s your fav read’s Soundtrack?

Jennifer McGowan has been writing fiction since well before she knew any better. A past Romance Writers of America Golden Heart winner and 2011 Golden Heart finalist, Jenn is represented by agent extraordinaire Alexandra Machinist, of Janklow & Nesbit.

Jenn's debut novel, MAID OF SECRETS, will be published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 7, 2013. You can find Jenn online and on twitter.


  1. Can't wait to read your book, Jen!!!

    My YA involves a super-sexy alien, so people tell me they're reminded of my book when they hear Katy Perry's "Extraterrestrial," but that was never part of my sound track while writing the story. For some reason, Owl City's "Fireflies" inspired me.

  2. Melissa, both of those are awesome songs--I can't wait to hear more about your YA! Thanks for sharing your tunes. :)


  3. Jenn,

    I love story soundtracks! But I have to admit my songs are compiled by scenes not characters. I totally listen to music while I write a scene to get into the emotions of the characters. So for example in PIPER'S KISS, the song is Bang Bang! by K'Naan featuring Adam Levine. As my heroine's hips sway side-to-side in an attempt to stay warm despite the freezing Sprite wrapped around her thigh, her charms shoot straight to the hero's heart-bang!

    Love the book video, and can't wait to read this series--your queen sounds totally rocking!


  4. The sound track from Last of the Mohicans always gets me in the mood to write my romantic historicals!

  5. I love your story, Jenn, and can't wait to read it. It's such a clever premise.

    It's funny, but I stopped linking story with music a few books ago. The last soundtrack (literally, in this case) I used was Elizabethtown (did you see that movie? I don't know why, but I loved it). The instrumentals were just so freaking moving.

    For me, I guess, I love music as much as I love writing/reading, so I can't play songs with lyrics or my mind goes to the lyrics. I have to get into the zone when I'm writing, and to do that I listen to rain. Hey, it works! It's a website called and it helps me screen out the whole world and zero in on my storyverse.

  6. Sheryl and Michele, thank you for posting! Two very different types of music... but both sound perfect for what you're writing. I think I could spend all day running through videos and songs for this project... must...step...away.

    Thanks again for stopping by The Lucky 13s!

  7. Olivia, hello! I just checked out because I *love* a good rainstorm, and I can absolutely see how this would rock as a writing background.

    I tend to hear the lyrics too when I listen to music, so I can't write and listen unless it's just instruments. But usually, I write in silence (I have a very quiet house!)

    And now I'm listening to rain... :)

    Thanks for posting!

  8. I love that the soundtrack for your historical has a modern vibe. I'm the same way when it comes to musical inspiration for my stories set in the past.

    Looking forward to reading MAID OF SECRETS!

  9. I have so many random songs I used for my current WIP.

    Nice to meet you Jennifer, and I look forward to reading your book. :)

  10. Hi, Jenn! Great blog idea! I listen to music when I'm writing and the songs definitely set the mood for any scene I'm working on. Duran Duran's Come Undone is on my usual playlist, spiced liberally with Paramore, Rihanna, Adele and Linkin Park...yes it's all over the place. :-)

    Melissa, just love KP's Extraterrestrial!

  11. Great post Jenn. I can't wait for MAID OF SECRETS! One of my favorite bands to write by is Apocalyptica. Rock cello. :)

  12. Hi Jen - Sorry to jump in late, but I didn’t want to miss this great topic! I love that the song choices for your Maids are so diverse, just like their character profiles.
    Music is a huge part of my creative process and I have a sound track for all the books I’ve written, but one of my favorite bands to write to is Coldplay. Their music thrives with emotion, each song telling a story.
    Oddly, I only have one song on the playlist for my current WIP (set in Victoria-era London), and that’s PARADISE by Coldplay…hmm, maybe my lack of playlist is why it’s taken me two weeks to nail down the first chapter. I need to go get busy on that… ;-)

  13. "The Pretender" -- awesome choice. I can almost picture an Elizabethan acting troupe rocking out like the Foo.

    I've Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" in mind for the opening of my current WiP.

  14. Jenn - I love your soundtrack! Now I'm going to have to go listen to those songs. (Bono - yum!)

  15. Love it! So cute, and I can't wait to read your book. I'm working on a spy story too, but it's contemporary and the heroine isn't a spy but has to navigate that world. I don't know about a soundtrack. I'll have to think about it. Something tough but pretty, original but not too out-there, and smart.