Marc in music — an Unlawful Contact playlist

    Hi, all,

    Sorry to be MIA again. It's a really busy time at the paper for the next couple of weeks, so my energies are very drained. Plus, I'm trying very hard to finish Untamed within the next two weeks. Bottom line: I'm falling behind on everything.

    But here's the playlist I promised. If you haven't read Unlawful Contact there are some major spoilers here. So read at your own risk!

    Part of writing a convincing story is for the writer to feel every bit of emotion that the characters feel. That means the writer has to be present in the story, breathing and feeling through the characters. I try very hard to feel exactly what they're feeling, to the degree that if they're afraid my heart rate goes up, too. To do this, I have to manipulate myself and seek their "energy" anywhere I can find it.

    Music is the single most important inspiration I have, in addition to the stuff in my own sick and twisted imagination. I am always hunting for new tunes, expanding what I listen to and letting the music spark emotional reactions inside me that I can channel into writing. The only genre of music I won't listen to is country, because all it inspires is a desire to plug my ears and run away. But hip hop, rock, metal, classical, Celtic, blues — all of these take up lots of space in my iTunes, which is why I was so desperate to retrieve my iTunes when my last computer died.

    For those of you who love music, I've put together a play list with notes of key songs that influenced my emotions when I was writing Unlawful Contact.

    Remember, there are spoilers! And have fun sampling if you haven't already heard these.

    “When I’m Gone,” 3 Doors Down from Away from the Sun

    Notes: The first time I heard this song, it personified Marc for me, particularly his sense of self and his longing for Sophie, knowing he’s not good enough for her and wanting her anyway. I felt it also captured the “no happy endings, not for us” reality of their relationship, the idea that one way or another his freedom and his life with her was going to be very, very short. This was such an important song for this story, keeping me focused on the hopelessness of their situation.

    Key lyric:
    So hold me when I’m here
    Right me when I’m wrong
    Hold me when I’m scared
    And love me when I’m gone
    Everything I am
    And everything in me
    Wants to be the one
    You wanted me to be

    “Here Without You,” (acoustic version) 3 Doors Down

    Notes: This obviously fed the emotional thread of Marc longing for Sophie over a 12-year period, particularly in prison where all he had to conjure her back was his mind, his memories. For me, it represented Marc's deep loneliness during his six years in the slammer.

    Key lyric:
    A hundred days have made me older
    Since the last time that I saw your pretty face
    A thousand lies have made me colder
    And I don’t think I can look at this the same
    But all the miles that separate
    Disappear now when I’m dreaming of your face

    I’m here without you baby
    But you’re still on my lonely mind
    I think about you baby
    And I dream about you all the time
    I’m here without you baby
    But you’re still with me in my dreams
    And tonight it’s only you and me

    “Savin’ Me” Nickelback from All the Right Reasons

    Notes: I love this song. It came into my life as a Julian song, full of that dark energy that motivates him—his sense of utter worthlessness, his being trapped in some ways by his own past, his fear of confronting the darkness inside him. Then, somehow, the song morphed into a Marc song, and in that incarnation the connection was very clear, as Marc was in prison. Both Julian and Marc are “saved” by their love for a particular woman and her love for him. This song freaking rocks.

    Key lyric:
    Prison gates won’t open up for me
    On these hands and knees I’m crawlin’
    Oh, I reach for you
    Well I’m terrified of these four walls
    These iron bars can’t hold my soul in
    All I need is you
    Come, please, I’m callin’
    And, oh, I scream for you
    Hurry I’m fallin’, I’m fallin’

    “Where Do I Hide” Nickelback from Silver Side Up

    Notes: Another pretty obvious Marc song. Though Nickelback really needs to brush up on the reality of the U.S. criminal justice system — sorry, the journalist in me is nitpicking for accuracy — the idea of a man on the run and looking for vengeance that feeds this song helped feed my “Marc as criminal badass” mood.

    Key lyric:
    Got a criminal record, I can’t cross state lines
    First on the bad list, and you’re last on mine
    Lookin for a scapegoat, long past due
    Walking down the aisle, staring straight at you

    “Worthy to Say” Nickelback from The State

    Notes: This song really captures the whole underground drug culture element of fear—of wondering which one of your friends turned narc on your ass, though creating the song around marijuana instead of, say, coke or meth or smack is kind of funny. What I liked about this was its sense of the street. I could see Marc checking all of Megan’s known hideouts, walking the “shooting galleries,” i.e., places where heroin addicts shoot up and bliss out, and following her pusher/boyfriend to his home on Race Street to kick his ass.

    Key lyric:
    They’re growin dope everywhere around the block
    You can smell it
    You can tell by the way they talk
    Somebody stole five for gasoline
    Who told ya, Who told ya

    “Better Than Me,” Hinder from Extreme Behavior

    Notes: No explanation needed, really. This highlighted Marc’s deep sense that he was only destroying Sophie’s life by being a part of it. Aimee turned me on to Hinder. Thanks, Aimee!

    Key lyrics:
    But I remember
    What it feels like beside you
    I really miss your hair in my face
    And the way your innocence tastes
    And I think you should know this
    You deserve much better than me

    “Cocaine” Eric Clapton

    Notes: Really, it’s just the entire song — the drug theme. And coke is, of course, the drug Marc was accused of stealing and selling as a DEA agent

    Key lyric:
    If you got bad news
    You wanna kick them blues
    When your day is done
    And you wanna run

    “Closer” Nine Inch Nails from The Downward Spiral

    Notes: I love how raw and unapologetically sexual this song is. I felt that Marc found escape from his past with Sophie, particularly when they shagged…

    Key lyrics:
    You let me violate you, you let me desecrate you
    You let me penetrate you, you let me complicate you
    Help me I broke apart my insides, help me I’ve got no soul to sell
    Help me the only thing that works for me, help me get away from myself
    I want to fuck you like an animal
    I want to feel you from the inside
    I want to fuck you like an animal
    My whole existence is flawed
    You get me closer to god

    “A Time for Us,” the love theme from Franco Zeffarelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1969)

    Notes: This was Marc’s “death” theme. I put it on repeat and listened to it for probably eight non-stop hours as I wrote that particular scene. A very poignant song, written for “Romeo and Juliet,” it encapsulates the bittersweet experience of star-crossed love. I had to believe the worst was going to happen to write that scene the way it needed to be written, and this son enabled me to manipulate my emotions to do that. I cried the entire day.

    Rather than putting in key lyrics, here’s the entire song:

    A time for us, some day there’ll be
    When chains are torn by courage born of a love that’s free
    A time when dreams so long denied can flourish
    As we unveil the love we now must hide

    A time for us, at last to see 
A life worthwhile for you and me
    And with our love, through tears and thorns 
We will endure as we pass surely through every storm 
A time for us, some day there’ll be a new world 
A world of shining hope for you and me

    And with our love, through tears and thorns 
We will endure as we pass surely through every storm 
A time for us, some day there’ll be a new world 
A world of shining hope for you and me

    A world of shining hope for you and me


    Notes: These are largely action-scene themes, songs that capture the energy of an Alpha hero in action.

    “Spybreak” Propeller Heads from the soundtrack to The Matrix
    “Clubbed to Death” Rob Dougan from the soundtrack to The Matrix
    “Jerusalem Poker” Bruce Cockburn from Life Short Call Now

    Do you have any songs that make you think of Marc? Does music make you think of books at all? What music do you think I should hear?

    Post and share some tunes (hint: no country) and I'll give away another signed copy of Unlawful Contact.

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