Music plays a big part in all of my contemporary westerns, particularly country music. I don’t always listen to music when I write, but I often plan or plot my stories while listening. I’ve even gotten story ideas from listening to either a certain artist or from a particular song.
Sometimes I’ll even hear a song after I’ve written a story that makes me think about a certain character.
Here’s a list of songs that have either inspired me while/before writing or make me think of a character.
- 11 by Cassadee Pope, Album: Frame by Frame (2013)
This song makes me think of my heroine from Heartland. The song is about a young girl whose life is turned upside down when her parents divorce. The same thing happens to Emily as a child. Because Emily is a country-turned-pop singer, I almost always picture her singing it when I hear it.
- Black Tears by Jason Aldean, Album: Night Train (2012)
The first time I heard this song I instantly thought about my heroine from Gambling On A Secret. The song is an emotional ballad about a stripper and how much she hates what she’s doing and often cries her mascara off; hence the black tears. Charli from Gambling On A Secret had run away from home when she was fifteen and ended up working as a stripper in Las Vegas. The song fits Charli so much it could have been written about her.
- Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts, (the version I have comes from the Album: Greatest Hits, Vol 1, 2008)
Heartstrings was inspired by this song. The original title of this story was “The Long Road Home.” In the story my hero is trying to find his way back home—and to the daughter he never knew. The heroine also has a broken road ahead of her—she has to forgive the hero for leaving and herself for pushing him away. This song also inspired the song Seth writes with his teenage daughter in the story.
- Drunk On A Plane by Dirks Bentley, Album Riser (2014)
My currently out of print novella, Chasing A Cowboy (published in the anthology set Cowboy Up) was directly inspired by this song. I heard it one day not long after it was released as a radio single and instantly pictured a country singer groom jilted at the altar and going on the honeymoon alone… Only there’s a little less drinking on the plane and I send the run-away bride’s fraternal twin sister after the groom.
Toby Keith—my hero Seth Kendall from Heartstrings is loosely modeled after a young Toby Keith. Crazy fact—I had never seen Toby Keith’s movie Broken Bridges (a story about a country singer who meets his daughter for the first time) until long after I wrote Heartstrings. In fact, I didn’t even know the movie existed until a friend told me about it. Then I had to see it to make sure my story didn’t too closely resemble the movie. I was greatly relieved that, other than the trope, the two have nothing much in common. Well, except the heroes look like Toby Keith…
Taylor Swift/ LeAnn Rimes/troubled young artists like Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears—A mesh-up these artists gave me elements that made up my troubled young songstress Emily Kendall from Heartland. Like Taylor Swift and LeAnn Rimes, Emily has an amazing-crazy talent at a tender age. She’s only fifteen when she gets her first record deal and she blurs the genre lines—making as many country number one as she does pop. But like so many young artists, she marries far too young and begins using drugs—until she finds out she’s pregnant and realizes she has to get away from her pop star ex-husband.
Writers get their ideas from everywhere… Music is just one of the places where I find mine.
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