I cannot, under any circumstances, listen to music while I’m writing. I find it totally distracting, and I can’t concentrate at all, especially if lyrics are involved. It’s way too tempting to sing along. Even classical music is too much background for my mind to handle. I’m definitely not that lady in the coffee shop who is writing while she has music playing through headphones. I wish I could do that, but as soon as I hear music, half of my brain begins to listen and the other half shuts down. I don’t know why. I need either complete silence or an old eighties movie I’ve seen a million times before, noise that provides company without distracting me in the least.
However, my new novel LIMELIGHT, coming 2018, is about a pop star on Broadway, and pop music plays a big role. I love pop songs, and I’ve been listening to them all the time recently; I consider it research at the moment. In fact, I decided that each section of LIMELIGHT – and the book is divided into eight of them – should begin with lyrics from a contemporary pop song. I can’t tell you how long it took me to select them. Was that time wasted or time well spent? – I have no idea. I may have some problems getting legal permission to use these quotations, but I’m hoping that I can because I chose each one for its thematic relevance to that particular part of the novel. They set just the right tone.
I have music in my book from Sia, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber (to name a few), touching on topics from wealth to holiday cheer to fame. There were so many great ones to choose from, and I spent weeks listening to some of my favorite songs. Pop music is sometimes corny and at its worst unsophisticated, but like all genres in the arts, there is a time and place for everything. And sometimes you just want a happy, uplifting beat to put you in a great mood. Most of the pop music I love is from my own high school and college years, everything from Blondie to the B-52s to Madonna to Salt-n-Pepa to REO Speedwagon to (obviously) Michael Jackson (who I SAW LIVE IN CONCERT.) (I also The Sugar Hill Gang, but I’m not here to show off.) But that music – all of which I loved, was so important to me. What felt better than listening to “Pretty Baby” while getting dressed up for a big night out?
That love of pop songs is partly what drove me to write LIMELIGHT. And pop stars themselves have always fascinated me. I so often wonder what their days are like, how they try to feel normal when their lives are anything but, and who they spend time with. Who — if anyone — keeps them grounded? And wouldn’t keeping a pop star’s shit together be a job I’d be terrific at?
Lastly I’ll confess that I’m crazy about James Corden, so he, too, gets a mention in my book. When I see James driving around with pop stars singing at the top of their lungs together, I think THAT is the purpose of pop music. That a fantasy come true.
So stay tuned for LIMELIGHT. It gives a glimpse into the life of an 18-year old star who is either headed for a career-ending mistake or is about to embark on a professional remake, one that will make him more popular than ever. I hope you enjoy!!
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