Thanks to the below video of Miley Cyrus performing “Lilac Wine” in what she’s titled The Backyard Sessions, I have now become a Miley Cyrus fan. Honestly, I was aware she was a singer, but had never heard her perform. If she puts out more music like this, I’ll be her biggest fan.
This song, along with “Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma” and “Jolene” – an all-time favorite of mine, inspires ideas and scenes in my head every time I hear it. It stirs me to write about cracked concrete front porches and those green, rusting metal chairs with the round backs. Lemonade, singing cicadas, lightning bugs. Sweating at twilight, walking barefoot in the grass. Basically my childhood growing up in the South.
I guess as writers we should take inspiration anywhere we can find it; it is certainly preferable to sitting in front of the lap top, forcing myself to write. And music is a huge inspiration – that’s why you now see playlists for books either on the author’s website or in the back of the paperback. It's why "Sex On Fire" by Kings of Leon has popped up in nearly every Contemporary Adult book out there (fun fact: the band hates the song and didn't want it on the album.) It’s one of the easiest ways to connect the emotion of the story to the emotions of the reader. It gives a complete picture—a soundtrack. And sometimes it’s just a song that births an entire novel. I had “My Body is a Cage” by Arcade Fire on repeat while I wrote “Prince of Arèthane.” In my head, I saw an entire music video/movie trailer playing along to that song.
But that’s Arcade Fire…and Radiohead and VAST and Johnette Napolitano and Honey Honey. Not Miley Cyrus. Should it matter, if the music is good? I guess not and don’t be surprised if you see a book sometime down the road set in a sleepy small town in Oklahoma about a girl who loves lemonade and banging on buckets to the rhythm of the cicadas.