I-Team playlists for your iPod

    I am a music fanatic. I’ve always been that way. Even back when I was 4 years old, music playing on the stereo would make me jump out of the tub and run, wet and naked, on fast little feet out to the living room to dance. My parents probably thought there was something developmentally wrong with me.

    In school, I was in choir, marching band and concert band. Plus, I listened to music non-stop at home. When the Walkman came out, it became my constant companion. No need to tell you that I'm an iPod devotee.

    But music is also one of my primary sources of inspiration for my writing. Without music, would there be words? I'm not sure. I use music to manipulate myself emotionally, setting up playlists for characters, for certain scenes in books, and general play lists for novels.

    Several of you have asked about my playlist for Naked Edge, but rather than just listing that, I thought I’d put them all up here. So whether you’re on Team Reece, Team Julian, Team Marc or Team Gabe (or are preemptively signing up for Team Zach), you’ll find something here to give you insight into those characters — or at least the odd inner workings of my brain, which is much less exciting.

    So get ready to sample some tunes at the iTunes store. I won’t be able to list everything here, just the most significant songs for each book.

    Extreme Exposure
    I haven't saved this list — it’s been a while now — so I’m going from memory. I listened to a lot of Eminem (esp. Lose Yourself and 8 Mile) while I wrote this. Not sure why. But the most “Reece” song to me was Five for Fightin's Superman (playcount 1,630). I saw Reece as a hero who was almost too good for the world around him, a man who just wanted to be a man but whose sense of right and wrong was so strong that it led him to this sea of conflict — but also, ultimately, happiness with Kara. That song for some reason evokes that for me. For the scenes at the cement plant at the end of the book, I wanted something that sounded violent and evoked factory machinery. So I listened to U2’s “Mofo” from Pop. And that's about all I can remember...

    Hard Evidence
    I still have some of this playlist on my iTunes.
    “Jerusalem Poker” by Bruce Cockburn — evoked Julian’s inner cool during violence
    “Savin' Me” by Nickelback — This might sound like a Marc song (in fact, he might have grown out of it), but to me it evoked Julian’s inner struggle and his being trapped in a sense of worthlessness. It is the most “Julian” song I can think of. Plus he was in prison at one point.
    “Feelin' Way Too Damn Good” — this made me feel his sense of disbelief that he’d fallen in love
    “If You Wear That Velvet Dress” — This was the end of the story for me. It starts at Julian’s bleakest moment when Tessa is gone, then resolves into their being together and all danger being past. This is one of those instances where it’s more the emotion of the music than the lyrics.

    I also listened incessantly to a mixtape put together by Joe Thunder and some of his homies. This was hip hop from Aurora — A-Town, Julian’s stomping ground. This was right off the street. You can’t get it anywhere, plus none of the songs have titles.

    Unlawful Contact
    The name of this playlist is actually MARC&SOPHIE. I think in terms of characters, because they have to feel like people to me to feel real to you.
    The love scene in the prologue needed a sense of innocent sensuality, and I got that from “One Summer Night” by the Danleers. Think of Marc's ’55 Chevy.
    “Spybreak” and “Clubbed to Death” from The Matrix soundtrack fed the actions scenes.
    “Running Away” by Hoobastank — what else but prison escape music? “Where Do I Hide?” by Nickelback came in there, too.
    “Running to Stand Still,” U2's song about heroin addiction, was Megan for me. Love this song.
    “Worthy To Say” by Nickelback and “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton helped feed the street scenes, particularly anything having to do with drugs.
    “Better Than Me” and “Lips of An Angel” brought to mind Marc's sense that Sophie deserved better. Again, it’s not always the lyrics. Sometimes it’s just the emotion it evokes.
    As for the love the two felt for each other, “Truly Madly Deeply” and “Chasing Cars” were high up there.
    And the ultimate Marc song? “When I'm Gone” by 3 Doors Down. This was the beginning of my 3 Doors Down obsession. See if you think this fits:

    Everything I am

    And everything in me
    Wants to be the one
    You wanted me to be
    I'll never let you down
    Even if I could
    I'd give up everything
    If only for your good
    So hold me when I'm here
    Right me when I'm wrong
    You can hold me when I'm scared
    You won't always be there
    So love me when I'm gone
    Love me when I'm gone...

    That scene that made people really anxious toward the end of the book, the one that involves bullets... (I’m trying to do this without spoilers) I listened to one song for an entire weekend just to convince myself that the worst had happened and that it was O-V-E-R in a permanent way. And that was the love theme from the 1969 film Romeo & Juliet, titled “A Time for Us.” And I cried my way through an entire box of Puffs writing that scene.


    Marc met her gaze, gave her fingers a squeeze, then spoke haltingly. “I’m sorry… Dragged you into this.”

    “Shhh!” She ran her knuckles over his cheek, trying not to cry and failing miserably. “You just rest now. Save your strength.”

    “Don’t cry… No happy endings… not for us… not this time. But for you… you’ll find happiness… the right man.”

    “Don’t you even say that, Marc Hunter, damn it!”

    “You helped me… find Megan. Thank you… is not enough.” He looked to where his sister sat crying quietly, the baby clutched in her arms. “I love you, Megan… Promise me… no more drugs. Be… a good mom. Tell Emily… I love her, too.”

    “I-I promise.” Her face contorted with grief, Megan gulped back a sob and held the baby out so that he could touch her, Emily’s little fist closing around his finger.

    “Cop… ” Hunt’s gaze shifted to Julian. “Watch over Sophie. Megan and Emily, too.”

    “You know I will.” Julian met Sophie’s gaze. “Three minutes, thirty seconds.”

    “Sprite?” Hunt took another shaky breath, his pale face a mask of pain, his gaze searching for her.

    “I’m here, right here.” She squeezed his hand, but this time he didn’t squeeze back.
    His seemed to relax when he saw her. “I... love you… Always have… Every day… you. My fairy sprite.”

    “I love you, too, do you hear me?” She sobbed the words.

    His mouth curved in a weak grin. “I… hear you.”

    Their gazes locked, the love she saw in his eyes undimmed by pain. And for a moment it was just the two of them—just her and Hunt.

    “You mean everything to me, Marc Hunter. Everything.” She leaned down, pressed her lips to his, her palm pressed against the rapid thrum of his heart.

    He answered her kiss, his lips like ice.

    Then the distant beat of a helicopter drew her gaze to the sky.

    By the time she looked down again, his eyes were closed.

    And that brings us to...

    Naked Edge

    I have many playlists for this book. Kat has one. Gabe has one. The sex scenes have their own list. The book in general has one. The big scene at the end of the book has its own playlist. If you absolutely must know all of the songs, e-mail me. Here are the highlights:

    “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails — what else could be the soundtrack to his sex life?
    “Unforgiven II” and “Fade to Black” by Metallica for his climbing scenes
    “Broken” by Lifehouse for Gabe’s feelings about Kat
    “It's Been Awhile,” “Right Here,” and “Tangled Up In You” by Staind are strong Gabe songs, especially the first, which is kind of the ultimate Gabe song:

    It's been a while
    since I could say that I wasn't addicted and
    It's been a while
    Since I could say I love myself as well and
    It's been a while
    Since I've gone and fucked things up just like I always do
    It's been a while
    But all that shit seems to disappear when I'm with you

    I listened to a lot of 3 Doors Down, too, but Staind really took over after the first six months or so.

    The entire soundtrack to the movie Thunderheart
    The soundtrack to How the West was Lost
    “Meditations on Dinetah,” by R. Carlos Nakai (Dinetah means Navajoland, and Nakai is Diné)
    The entire CD Fire Crow by Joseph Fire Crow

    This music also served to fuel the action scenes toward the end.

    Other significant songs:
    “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak and “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias for the love scenes (together with a bunch of others)
    “You and Me” by Lifehouse for their wedding at the end and the epilogue.
    “Supermassive Black Hole," by Muse for skiing scenes (that turn into snow angels).
    “Sometime Around Midnight” for Gabe's broken heart

    And for the scene that made you hate me? This will probably seem weird, but Annie Lennox singing “Into the West” from the third Lord of the Rings movie. It is, after all, a song about dying and grief.

    And there you have it.

    I’m always looking for new music. Oftentimes, when I feeling like I'm suffering from writer’s block it's actually musical ennui — being sick of all my music. So feel free to share, especially if you’ve got music that evokes torture. I could use some of that for Zach right now. (Let the teasing begin! Bwahaha!)

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