Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guest post by Deborah Raney

As a teen, my aunt introduced me to a famous author; Deborah Raney. She was a Midwestern stay-at-home mom who wanted to send her son to college. Sparked by a dinnertime conversation about Alzheimer's disease, (real life inspiration, anybody?) she wrote a novel called A Vow to Cherish, which won a 1997 Angel Award from Excellence in Media. It was the inspiration for a film of the same name.  Deb has over published over twenty books, which have won a variety of awards. Their settings vary from the Midwest to South American jungles and Haitian orphanages. Deb's characters are complex and real, who are confronted with the difficult issues of life. Check out her recent The Hanover Falls Novels, published by Howard/Simon & Schuster.

A huge thank you Deb, my fellow Kansan and friend, for sharing this post about her musical inspiration! 

Music to Write By

I love to listen to music while I write. I’m picky though. It can’t be just any music. Anything with vocals is out, lest I suddenly find myself typing lyrics instead of my story. Anything with too distinct a beat gets my foot tapping, and that messes with the rhythm of my fingers on the keyboard.

But when I find the right soundtrack for the scene I’m working on, it’s amazing how music helps me get in touch with exactly the emotions I need to express my characters’ melancholy mood or sense of elation.

My favorite CDs to write by have turned out, not surprisingly, to be movie soundtracks. Not only are they usually mostly free of vocals, but they seem to have the perfect ebb and flow between loud dramatic themes and quiet, contemplative melodies.

I’ve always wished there were some way to set my own novels to music for my readers. Wouldn’t it be incredible to buy a novel that came with a soundtrack that could somehow be programmed to play jungle music when your characters were trekking through the Amazon, switch to violins and flutes while your characters fall in love, and beat out the drums to up the tension during the chase scenes.

Maybe it’s already been done and I just haven’t discovered it yet. I have listened to a few audio books that had little snippets of music to introduce the chapters, but I’ve never seen an entire novel set to music.

I have no clue what it would take to pull off such a feat. Maybe the CD would contain four or five distinctly different themes and the reader could simply play the track suggested at the beginning of each section or chapter of the book, repeating the same themes every time the novel is in a particular character’s point of view? I don’t know, but I’d volunteer to be the guinea pig on such a project in a flash!

I’m not holding my breath, and while I wait, I’ll continue to turn to these favorite composers and soundtracks to write by:

• James Horner (Searching for Bobby Fischer, Legends of the Fall, Braveheart)

• Dave Grusin (Bonfire of the Vanities, The Firm)

• James Newton Howard (The Tourist, The Village, Dying Young, Snow Falling on Cedars)

• John Barry (Dances with Wolves)

• Michael Convertino (Children of a Lesser God)

• Stephen Warbeck (Charlotte Gray, Shakespeare in Love)

• Hans Zimmer (The Holiday, The Last Samurai, Gladiator, Pearl Harbor, Spanglish)

• Michael Kamen (Band of Brothers)

• Danny Elfman (Black Beauty)

• John Williams (Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park and scores of others)

• Jan A.P. Kaczmarek (Finding Neverland)

• Adrian Johnston (Becoming Jane)

• Rachel Portman (Emma)

(This post was previously posted on

Other musical inspiration...


Post a Comment