Sing Me a Story

My Creative Writing professor, Dr. Briggs, stressed the importance of really knowing our characters. At any given moment we had to spew out facts such as what was in our character’s trash can, what they ate for lunch, what they wore to bed, and who was on their speed dial. Having that background knowledge would allow us to develop our stories, our conflicts, and our resolutions.

When he asked, “How does your character drink his coffee?” and called on me, I panicked. I answered the only way I could think of. “Light, no sugar,” I said, as I sipped my creamy, bitter cup. Although I understood the theory of the exercise, it was lost on my un-creative writing brain.

This exercise came back to me when I happened upon Stephenie Meyer’s website. She posts lists of songs that have either a) inspired her as she wrote her popular Twilight series or b) inspired her characters through their ficitious journey of love and vampirism.

I bet Dr. Briggs is now assigning this every semester! If he called on me now, I would spew out favorite song titles from my iPod’s 25 Most Played Playlist.

This fun idea is picking up popularity among writers, and many post playlists on their websites. I’ve compiled an extensive list of adult and young adult authors who have done this exercise. Check out a book and give it a try!

As mentioned before, Stephenie Meyer has made playlists for each book in her Twilight series (YA FIC MEY). Enjoy modern rock by Plain White T’s, Incubus and Killers throughout Bella’s coming of age quartet:


New Moon
Breaking Dawn

Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks Mysteries series (FIC ROB) features classic rock songs from artists such as Tom Waits, Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, and Neil Young:


Friend of the Devil
Piece of My Heart

Brad Meltzer’s Book of Lies (FIC MEL) playlist features hero songs by R.E.M. and Five for Fighting:


Book of Lies

Patrick Jones (YA FIC JON) is inspired by R.E.M. and Bruce Springsteen when he writes powerful stories about teens:

Things Change

Robin Benway’s playlist of angry breakup songs compliments the theme of her book:

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway: Book Cover

Audrey, Wait! (YA FIC BEN)

A more classical playlist is a perfect soundtrack to the late 19th Century historical fiction by Libba Bray:

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Bray Bray: Book Cover

A Great and Terrible Beauty (YA FIC BRA)

A dark, intense playlist of modern rockers such as Flyleaf and Evanescence are a great choice to pair up with Laurie Halse Anderson’s latest YA novel:

Cover Image

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA FIC AND)

Saundra Mitchell thinks Kelly Clarkson and Kenny Wayne Shepherd are the perfect artists for her main character, Iris, in her newest teen novel:

Cover Image

Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell (YA FIC MIT)

 What songs would you pair up with the novel you are reading?

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who is listening to Nickelback while reading the Mike Rowe feature in the newest issue of Outside.

One thought on “Sing Me a Story

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