GUEST BLOG: Songs of Scotland by Carrie LoftyTuesday, July 3, 2012 10:00
Anyone who knows my writing process knows that I can’t write a word without listening to music. I create soundtracks for each of my books, sometimes cobbled together from whatever I like at the moment and sometimes crafted to evoke a certain mood.
Starlight, the second of my Christies series of Victorian romances from Pocket, was an oddball in my music/writing experience. I started with random tunes: Evanescence, Cat Power, Bat for Lashes, Muse, Florence + the Machine. But nothing felt genuine. I actually got a bit blocked. Victorian Scotland was waiting for me…and I couldn’t feel it!
I needed songs from the north, songs from the cold, songs that evoked the mixed emotions of life in a tightly-knit community. Happiness about the little things. Sadness about chances missed. Two shots of happy, one shot of sad. And because the heroine, Polly Gowan, is a weaver in 1880s Glasgow—when Victorian shipbuilding was king—I needed the melancholy of opportunities having passed people by.
Where better to look than to my husband’s music collection? He’s English. He grew up in the early 80s. The British economy was downsizing heavy industry and mining, much like the “rustbelt” effect in the United States. Key among his recommendations were Big Country and Simple Minds. Both bands were Scottish at a time when being Scottish was not celebrated or valued. In every song, frustration is tempered by hope.
I’ve been a huge U2 fan for decades, so I threw in a few of their lesser known album tracks, too. In particular, “Red Hill Mining Town” speaks volumes. It is the heart and soul of Starlight—having one person’s hand to hold and knowing that love will be enough.
“How do you do it, Polly?”
“Keep your spirits up.” He touched her cheek, where loose curls tickled and teased. “How have you managed to survive here? It’s dirty and poor and violent. Yet, you keep smiling. How?”
She grew quiet, making Alex wonder if he’d stepped past some invisible boundary. But she was still Polly, and that meant taking him by surprise.
“You want to know the secret?”
“Is there one?”
“Of course. Otherwise I’d have gone mad a long time ago.” She rested their twined hands together and exhaled. “You make shields. A half dozen or so. You stake them all around, all overlapped to keep out the pain and disappointment. But you leave a tiny crack, right in the front. That’s for letting the happiness in.”
Because of the truer, more genuine playlist I eventually assembled, Starlight is a book about what happens when you’re brave enough to let the happiness in.
What’s next for me:
After RT BookReviews 4½ Star Top Pick Starlight hits the shelves, I’ll be looking forward to the release of His Very Own Girl, a historical romance set in World War II. It’s not women’s fiction. It’s not literary fiction. It’s a genuine romance, complete with sexy times and a happy ending. Look for it September 4th as a Pocket Star digital original novel. I cannot wait to see how readers respond!
I’ll also be launching a new co-written pseudonym, Katie Porter, with my long-time friend and critique partner, Lorelie Brown. Our “Vegas Top Guns” series of contemporary erotic romances will launch from Samhain on July 31 with the release of Double Down, which is also a RT BookReviews 4½ Star Top Pick. Two more from the series, Inside Bet and Hold’em, will follow in August and September. You can learn more about these and future books at our website.
You can find me at my website and at Twitter: @carrielofty.
I’d like to give away a copy of Starlight, and I’ll ship anywhere. Just answer the question: Do you have any favorite songs or bands from Scotland? I’d love to hear your recommendations!
Thanks again to the Good, the Bad and the Unread for having me!