Music to write (and read) to
By award-winning journalist and debut author Brynn Kelly
For many years I couldn’t bear having music playing while I wrote. Some writer friends swore by it, but I found it interfered with my concentration—a familiar tune or catchy lyrics would pull me out of my story and jolt me into the pesky real world.
Then one day, when the writing wasn’t flowing, I decided to experiment. What if I could find a type of music that didn’t distract me, that actually helped put my brain in the right mode? It had to be instrumental, but not some candlelit pan-flutey thing that would put me to sleep. Nothing so familiar that it’d break my focus or so distinctive that I’d suddenly start writing about Hobbits or Caribbean pirates.
Romantic suspense demands two interweaving writing styles. You get the fast-paced, heart-pumping action scenes, and the slower, emotional romantic scenes, with transitions between them. That’s one of the things I love most about writing in this genre—the drama and the action, ebb and flow, like a movie soundtrack or orchestral piece, but there’s always something happening.
It took a bit of experimenting, but I discovered that different styles of music worked for different scenes. For fast-paced suspense scenes, I settled on action movie soundtracks, which helped me sustain the tension. Epic, soul-souring music brought drama to the page. With quieter legato music—preferably piano, cello or orchestral—the pace slowed and my writing developed depth and contemplation. I was converted.
Here’s a selection from my current Pandora writing playlists. Do you listen to music when you read (or write)? If so, what, and why?
When writing action scenes I listen to:
- Batman Begins and the Dark Knight, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard
- Code Name Vivaldi, the Piano Guys
- The Bourne Legacy (James Newton Howard) and the Bourne Supremacy (John Powell)
- Inception, Hans Zimmer
- Road to Glory, Audiomachine
- Ender’s Game, Steve Jablonsky
- The Art of War from the Omega Code, Matias Puumala
- StarWaves from Oblivion, M83
- Captain Phillips, Henry Jackman
- Zero Dark Thirty, Alexandre Desplat
When writing quieter scenes I listen to:
- Bethie’s Song, Danny Wright
- Swept Away, Michele McLaughlin
- The Embrace, Aeoliah
- Lamentations of the Heart, Philip Wesley
- Nocturne in A Minor, Chad Lawson
- Lavender Hills, Brian Crain
- One Minute Fairy Tale, John Otott
- Sudden Inspiration, Jim Brickman
- Out of it All, Helen Jane Long
- Torn, Nathan Lanier
Title: Deception Island by Brynn Kelly
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
A stolen boy
A haunted soldier
A cornered con woman…
Rafe Angelito thought he was done with the demons from his past—until his son is kidnapped. Blackmailed into abducting an American heiress, the legionnaire soon finds himself trapped in paradise with a fiery, daring beauty who’s nothing he expects…and everything he desires. But when he uncovers her own dark secret, Rafe realizes he’s made a critical mistake—one that could cost him everything.
Playing body double for a spoiled socialite was supposed to be Holly Ryan’s ticket to freedom. But when she’s snatched off her yacht by a tall, dark and dangerous stranger, the not-quite-reformed con artist will make a desperate play to turn her captor from enemy to ally, by any means necessary.
Yet as scorching days melt into sultry nights, Holly is drawn to the mysterious capitaine, with his unexpected sense of honor and his searing touch. When they’re double-crossed, they’ll have to risk trusting each other in ways they never imagined…because in this deadly game of deception, it’s their lives—and hearts—on the line.
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As a journalist Brynn Kelly once spent her days chasing stranger-than-fiction news reports. Now she spends them writing larger-than-life novels, in a happy bubble of fiendish plots and delicious words. Brynn has a journalism degree and has won several prestigious writing and journalism awards, including the Valerie Parv Award and Pacific Hearts Award. Her debut novel Deception Island was a Golden Heart finalist. She’s also a bestselling non-fiction author in her native New Zealand.
I am giving away ONE PRINT copy of Deception Island. Contest is open to US & Canadian mailing address ONLY. To enter today’s contest, please fill out the form below by 5 PM Mountain Time Friday May 27th:
Please Note: Prize courtesy Brynn Kelly/Harlequin Books. The winner will receive a print copy of Deception Island directly from the author (or assistant). Prizes will not be mailed out until May 30th or after.
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