The music behind Surfacing

I’ve written before now about how music influences my writing. Each book gets its own playlist that helps put me into the tone of the story. If you look on the pages for each of my books, you’ll see a list of the songs that inspired the story.

Surfacing has a mostly “quiet” playlist. The story needed songs that haunt me, that helped put me into a quiet, lonely state. My main character, Mara, is dealing with the loss of her mother, the only parent she’s known for most of her life. Now she’s being sent to live in a place she doesn’t know, with a father she doesn’t know, and she feels very isolated and detached from everyone around her. The songs needed to reflect that.

The exception would be the first song on the list, which isn’t exactly quiet. “Santa Monica” by Everclear. It was actually the first song I added to the playlist, the one that I knew needed to be there even if it didn’t fit with the rest of the songs. Sometimes it’s not always the feel of the song, but the lyrics that speak to me.

I am still dreaming of your face
Hungry and hollow for all the things you took away
- “Santa Monica” by Everclear

I wrote about “Santa Monica” inspiring me on Shel Delisle’s blog for Music Monday last week.

I had only a very vague idea of what the story would be about at the beginning, but as I wrote Surfacing, it became a story wrapped up in loss and secrets. Every character in the book has at least one secret they’re keeping, and all of them have been touched by loss in some way.

And if I listen to the sound of white,
Sometimes I hear your smile, and breathe your light.
- “The Sound of White” by Missy Higgins

A big part of the story is Mara’s relationship with her father. “Electric” by Tristan Prettyman is my song for the two of them.

I know there’s hope in there
But I wanna walk away
- “Electric” by Tristan Prettyman

And, of course, the songs also reflect the romance and friendships. It’s a paranormal story, yes, but as I said during my talk at the BOOKMARKS Festival in September, I write about relationships–romantic, friendly, and family. The Boyfriend Thief was one of my explorations deeper into relationships and how they affect us, and Surfacing continues on that theme.

When I’m losing my control, the city spins around
You’re the only one who knows, you slow it down
- “Look After You” by The Fray

I can almost believe that I’m almost enough
- “Suspended” by Matt Nathanson


The full playlist for Surfacing:
“Santa Monica” – Everclear
“From Where You Are” – Lifehouse
“Look After You” – The Fray
“The Sound of White” – Missy Higgins
“Many the Miles” – Sara Bareilles
“Please Do Not Let Me Go” – Ryan Adams
“The World Outside” – Paloalto
“I Saw” – Matt Nathanson
“Suspended” – Matt Nathanson
“Electric” – Tristan Prettyman
“When I Fall” – Jonathan Cour

Surfacing will be available in ebook format in one week! Look for it starting Tuesday, November 15! Read the first chapter over here.