Tuesday, March 24, 2015

So a few weeks ago I got to announce that my new book Helium has been published by Read Furiously.

Now like always, one of the first things I do when starting a project is try to put together a couple songs that help set the tone for the story I want to tell. Usually, it's a pretty predictable mix of titles I'm listening to at the time, but as I started laying out the tracks for Helium I ended up kind of surprising myself.

The first song that ended up on the list was We Found Love by Rihanna. It didn't even stay on the list that long, since I didn't think it would have that much of an impact on the story as a whole. Rihana's an artist I don't listen to that often, more of an occasional guilty pleasure. But there was something about this song that kinda hit me. The way the chorus repeats itself over that driving club beat - "We found love in a hopeless place" over and over again, the way you can't really tell if it's a good thing or a bad thing.  In a way, that line ended up setting the tone for the world where Helium would take place. It's the kind of pop music I've always secretly been a fan of - the subversively depressing, "dance to the beat of your broken heart" appeal that when done right works really well.

Once I started actually writing Helium though, I lost interest in Rihanna. Instead I ended up going back and forth between two different songs. Four Night Rider by The Alberta Rural Advantage and Arron the Afterthought Astronaut by Fishboy.

In fact, I must have had these two songs on repeat through most of the first two drafts of the script. For obvious reasons they both embody the kind of "let's throw caution to the wind and take this crazy risk to be together" sentiment that Helium revolves around. But more than that, there's something carefree, almost single minded about them. They don't consider any consequence or complications, and that was really the mindset I wanted the two main characters to have. At the beginning of the story, they're very much young and stupid and empowered by the sense of invulnerably that only comes with youth.

Of course even in a fictional story, that kind of blind optimism can't last long. Reality eventually has to catch up to our protagonists. That's when songs like Broken Ships by the Immaculate Machines and As it Seems by Lily Kershaw snuck onto the playlist.

These are the songs where reality set in, the ones where our protagonists suddenly realize the gravity of the situation, that it isn't always as simple as just wanting it. These are the songs about the uncertainty, insecurity, and doubt that comes with realizing you may suddenly be in way over your head. Even if the optimism is still there, it's a much more somber one, no longer oblivious to the world around it.

But those aren't the last songs that made it onto the playlist either, because that isn't where the story stopped. And while it may be a little spoil-y, the final song ended up being the same indie battle cry the Mountain Goats gave us that followed me through my college years, my early twenties, and I'll probably be referencing when my grandchildren finally decide to check me into a home cause can't deal with my antics anymore.

The sense of optimism that falters and finds the confidence to stand on its own.

So that's about it, the music of Helium. Hope you like it.

For anyone interested in checking it out, Helium now available on pretty much every digital platform you can name. And while I'm not one for playing favorites when it comes to your e-reader of choice, I do want to mention that Barnes and Noble is offering a special deal from now till March 30th. New users who download the Nook app get a $5.00 credit on their account. And since Helium is just $1.99, you can get it for free and still have money left over.

 Just throwing that out there.