Note: This post originally appeared on Fiction Vixen, March, 2017
I love to create a musical playlist for each of my books. While some of the songs actually appear in the story, others are there to provide atmosphere, describe the characters and themes. The playlist helps me get into my writing zone, and is also a soundtrack as I read the finished book.
For my new release, Heating It Up: A Red Hot Russians Novella, I found so many great songs that connected to my rugged hero Alexei Zaikov, sophisticated heroine Nora Bradford, and the place they meet and fall in love—the remote outpost of Amity Bay, Antarctica.
I thought it would be fun to share my favorite ten (actually eleven!) songs from Heating It Up’s playlist, and how they relate to the story. I hope you enjoy Nora & Alexei’s Excellent Antarctic Top 10 Playlist.
Castaway/Zac Brown Band– Nora’s decision to spend the winter alone in a deserted high-tech eco-lodge in Antarctica makes her a castaway one of the most isolated places on the planet. Little does she know that a handsome man is about to show up at her door, determined to bring her in from the cold.
Wade in The Water/Eva Cassidy and Don’t Know Why/Norah Jones– This two-fer makes my playlist eleven songs deep, but these sophisticated, jazz-influenced songs brought to mind the big-city life Nora left behind. Since I love fish out of water stories, it was fun to imagine a woman used to fine dining, excellent wine, designer clothes and mani-pedis, adjusting to life waaay down under.
Little Talks/Monsters & Men– This eerie song, supposedly inspired by a haunted house where M&M’s frontwoman and her boyfriend lived, also describes Glacier Ridge, the state-of-art lodge Nora designed and where she still feels closest to Blake, her fiance who has been dead for two years. Antarctica has lots of ghost stories. Is Nora living in one?
Phantom Limb/The Shins– This song first made me think of Nora’s struggle to carry on with her life after a devastating loss, but it also speaks to the scars Alexei still carries from a previous girlfriend’s lies. Letting go of their respective phantom limbs is the struggle both must overcome before they can love again.
If I Had Eyes/Jack Johnson– This sunny up-tempo song has dark undertones and lyrics that hint at loss, death, and situations that don’t make sense. Not only did it made me think of Nora’s grief, but also of Alexei’s fear that she’s hiding a secret his eyes can’t see. It turns out, he’s right. Will that secret doom their romance?
Let It Go/Idina Menzel– Could there be a more fitting song for people with stuff they have to let go, who also happen to live in a land of ice and snow? And with lyrics about things like “frozen fractals” (aka snowflakes), it’s the musical equivalent of the 200-mph windstorm that traps Nora and Alexei together at the start of the story.
Here Comes The Sun/The Beatles– When Nora plays this song while preparing a romantic dinner for Alexei, he tells her that Antarctica residents often play it on the first day the sun rises at the end of over 100 days of winter darkness. Maybe Nora’s ready for a little sun too?
Landslide/The Dixie Chicks– Songwriter Stevie Nicks said that the Chicks’ bluegrass cover of Landslide is her favorite. Mine too. It’s a wintery song with lovely lyrics about knowing you need to change, but being afraid to leave behind one season of life for a new one, especially when it means saying good-bye to something (or someone) you loved.
I Love This Bar/Toby Keith– Boston has Cheers, Amity Bay has The Hut, a place where everybody knows your name. Granted, that’s not hard in a town with less than 100 residents, but this song paints a vivid picture of a night at your favorite watering hole. I like to imagine it being performed by The Hut’s house band, led by Dylan, a lean, lanky, lovelorn Texan who could be the hero of a future Amity Bay adventure.
Is This Love/Bob Marley and the Wailers– Like the sunny, Caribbean vibe of “Castaway” this romantic reggae love song is a fun contrast to the extreme cold. It captures Nora and Alexei’s growing attraction (and confusion), and also, another character’s explanation of what she loves about Amity Bay. “Cold nights, but warm hearts. What could be better than that?”
Happy listening…and reading.