Music/Christmas Draft – Tick!

I’ve discovered one unexpected side-effect of the more meticulous planning I’ve done for my last two books. It give me a sense of urgency to get the thing written. Once I know what is going to happen, the drive to get it down is strong. The Christmas/Latin book has been intense.

The interaction between the plan and the moments of inspiration in front of the computer is fascinating. This manuscript in particular explores the relationship between art and life and that, too, is a weird mirror of my experience writing it.

I’ve been calling this my ‘music-inspired wip’ and it is about a pair of musicians. I’ve always listened to a lot of music, but it’s a bit crazy at the moment because the soundtrack for this one is knit into the story so much that there is one section where I just have to play the song while I’m re-reading it. Some songs have been with the manuscript since the beginning, others have come into it at different stages of the story. But it’s been fun discovering the crossovers – accidental and intended. I have this idea that whenever the book comes out (however that may be), I’ll do a big post with all the songs in the soundtrack.

The idea for the book came about when I discovered my love of Latin music over the past year or two and I have been gradually improving my Spanish by looking at song lyrics. Some songs I look at and translate. Others I don’t – I just get a few words from listening. One particular song (La Última Bala by Bacilos featuring Orishas) I have been listening to since before the book, but I only translated the lyrics a few weeks ago because I started wondering if it was like what was happening in my book. The title means ‘the last bullet’ and it’s a running reference through my book that the metaphors of love are always violent. When I looked up the lyrics, it was a great companion to my hero’s journey through living life for fun to finally facing up to his own tragedy and the depth of commitment.

The final scene was extremely difficult to write. I sat on it for a few days, which was frustrating because I was getting up to 4,000 words a day on other days because I was spending hours and hours on it (and not getting enough sleep!). I finally accepted that he had to write her a song, but a particular kind of song because of their discussions about art versus life. A romance novel loves a grand gesture and Javi wouldn’t do it without music. So I had to write the lyrics to a song. It was hard. I accidentally started writing a different version of La Última Bala before I realised it was too similar to an existing song and also the wrong message he wanted to send. But it settled and it was pretty easy to write the heroine tearing up when she sees the video he made for her.

Then I realised that she would want to give him a gesture in response, and that her gesture should also be a song. Aaargh what did I do to myself? Luckily her song wasn’t complete, so I only had to write one verse and a chorus.

The song lyrics were the only appropriate way to end the book, but it’s hard to know how it works. Like dancing, it’s difficult to present music on the page in the written word. I hope you’ll all get a chance to decide how you like my lyrics. This book has been such intense, creative fun and they are such a satisfying pair.

Next steps are a first edit, then my lovely critique partner will get it and one other beta reader I’ve found for this project. Then hopefully in May I’ll send it off to Mackenzie Walton at Carina Press. Fingers crossed for a Christmas book party!

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