Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Fiction Fridays: The Music of Tell Me No Lies

Today’s Fiction Friday post is brought to you by the voices in my head. Yes, my characters not only try to dictate my storylines and plots, but now they are conspiring to stage a coup and take over my blog posts as well. 🙂 Because Tempest Dumont, the main character of my steampunk WIP, TELL ME NO LIES, has demanded it, I’m going to talk about the music behind the story.

For anyone who’s unaware, TELL ME NO LIES is my crazy steampunk romantic thriller, set in 1890s San Francisco (the Barbary Coast, to be specific). Tempest is a popular saloon singer who finds herself targeted by a mysterious serial killer who is bent on murdering those scandalous “ladies of the stage,” Jack-the-Ripper-style. The police refuse to believe that the murders are connected, and so she sets off on a one-woman crusade to find the killer and bring him to justice. Along the way, she receives the help of Adam Davenport, the one detective who believes her claims and wants to see justice served. The two of them are like oil and water, and they struggle to set aside their differences (and ignore the growing of attraction between them) to solve the murders.

Tempest is one of those characters who just won’t shut up. She’s incredibly different from my other MCs — loud, brassy, and cynical. She had a rough upbringing, ran away from home when she was 15, and ended up falling in love with a ne’er-do-well airship pirate who eventually broke her heart and tried to frame her for one of his crimes. Now she thinks that she’s heartless and incapable of love… but she just might be wrong.

The playlist has a distinct folk/country feel to it. Even though the tale takes place at the end of the 19th century when San Francisco has become refined and urban, there’s this residual “wild west” vibe that I can’t quite shake.

The first song that I’ll share with you is “Tennessee” by Gillian Welch (Lyrics). In so many ways, this is the definitive Tempest song, just from the first verse alone:

I kissed you ‘cause I’ve never been an angel
I learned to say hosannas on my knees
But they threw me out of Sunday school when I was 9
And the sisters said I did just as I pleased
Even so, I tried to be a good girl
It’s only what I want that makes me weak
I had no desire to be a child of sin
Then you went and pressed your whiskers to my cheek.

That scandalous, whiskered man? Gillian Welch is of course referring to Jack Davenport, the rakish airship pirate who broke Tempest’s heart and double-crossed her. In all seriousness, however, I love Gillian’s voice, and I am sorta convinced that this song was written for Tempest. It’s the perfect theme.

The second song is “Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars (Lyrics).

Tempest is the sort of gal who doesn’t really believe in redemption, and who carries around a lot of baggage when it comes to dealing with her past. The chorus resonates with all those themes:

Ain’t going back to Barton Hollow
Devil’s gonna follow me ‘ever I go
Won’t do me no good, washing in the river
Can’t no preacherman save my soul

The final song isn’t folk or country, but pop — Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” (Lyrics).The entire album, Funhouse, is on the playlist, but this song is my favorite. Incidentally, I’m convinced that this may be the best awards show performance I’ve ever seen. Pink kills it here:

I love this song to the marrow of my bones. It is achingly beautiful, and the last lines of the song move me to tears sometimes:

Have you ever wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and the stars and hold that rope tight
Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself
Will it ever get better than tonight?

This the song that plays in my head whenever I think of Tempest and Adam’s romance. They’re two souls who have been scarred, who are a bit bruised and broken, yet somehow fight their fears and allow themselves to be vulnerable to one another.

So there you have it, the music of TELL ME NO LIES. It’s not a definitive list by any means (the “official” playlist is over 60 songs long), but I think these three songs capture the overall vibe of the novel. Just listening to them makes me want to drop everything and start working on it again — or maybe that’s just Tempest talking. 😉

16 Comments

  1. I want to read this story. Right now 🙂
    Sarah Pearson recently posted..Insecure Writer’s Support Group 3My Profile

  2. I am with Sarah – must. read. now! 🙂
    What an amazing thing to do, to put a playlist for the story together. Wow. And Pink’s song and performance – WOW!!!!!!!!
    Natalie recently posted..BC impaired driving laws take a hitMy Profile

    • Thanks so much, Natalie. I really hope the finished product can live up to all my descriptions. 😛

      And yes, Pink’s performance is just stunning. I had started to dismiss her as sort of a gimicky artist — all of her main singles were sort of identical — but she proved beyond a doubt that she is an amazing singer, and one with a lot of heart and soul. The album that this song is from is pretty awesome.

  3. Not to be a total echo, but…must-read-this-NOW! Sounds so great! And I love your song choices – all so good, but the Civil Wars are one of my super-faves!
    Myndi Shafer recently posted..Quick Giggle: How to Make a Baby Stop CryingMy Profile

  4. Great playlist, Lena! I’ve been sold on Civil Wars, as has my daughter, since you first featured them! Such beautiful voices. Tennessee is just wonderful, too. I’ll have to add it to my music list.
    Nadja Notariani recently posted..Insecure Writer WednesdayMy Profile

    • Thanks so much, Nadja, and I’m so glad to hear that you like Tennessee as much as I do. Gillian Welch is an incredible artist — I’ve just downloaded some of her earlier work, and it’s amazing.

  5. Lena, I admire your taste in music. Now I can’t wait to read your book. Hurry up and finish it soon 🙂
    Angela Orlowski-Peart recently posted..Old Christmas Traditions Versus Commercialism of A Modern LifeMy Profile

  6. It is my first time to hear the “Tennessee” song. I agree that the song has distinct folk/country, which sounds nice and relaxing. The voice of Gillian perfectly complements the song. It is because it seems soothing and creative melody. Thanks for sharing the Fiction Fridays post.
    Stephan Hilson recently posted..Forfait mobile avec TVMy Profile

  7. Love the sound track Lena! I have a rather extensive soundtrack as well. I’d thought about sharing it as well. I’d even thought about creating a page and listing my story by music. 🙂 Then people can make up their own story based on the music. LOL

  8. Very cool Lena! It’s crazy that we hear music when we write. But I also have an entire sound track in one of my WIPs. I love it when someone incorporates music in their novel.

    Thanks Lena! 🙂
    Karen McFarland recently posted..Guest Post by Barry CrowtherMy Profile

  9. The voices in your head are brilliant, Lena! Can’t wait to hear more from them in your books… 😉
    August McLaughlin recently posted..The Gift of a Name: A Special Guest Post by Mark B. SaundersMy Profile

  10. Your book sounds awesome. I agree that Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” is ‘achingly beautiful.’ What an inspiring post, Lena.
    Lynn Kelley recently posted..Altered Art Photo Box – Homemade GiftsMy Profile

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