Okay, let’s get started…
Oh, you didn't really ask that. I can't name just one. In general, I want music with interesting lyrics and beautiful structure. Bright Eyes, the Antlers, the Decemberists all do this well, same with the bands I grew up listening to, like the Cure, Bowie, and the Smiths.
How important is music to you when you are writing?
Completely. I can’t write without it. I’ve tried and the words don’t come. On the bright side, it’s basically the only essential thing. I can pretty much write anywhere, anytime as long as I have music. (And caffeine, but if I had to choose, I’d ditch the coffee.)
How specific are your playlists when you write?
That depends? Pretty specific for CODA and its sequel, CHORUS, maybe a little less so for some other projects. With CODA and CHORUS, almost all of the songs on the playlists have some relevance to the plot, the characters, the mood I was trying to evoke, or all three. There are a few random weirdnesses thrown in as a result of what I was in the mood to listen to when writing certain scenes, because I was/am trying to write about music with love and wonder and so I’d listen to songs I think are miraculous, but mostly the songs are linked somehow to the stories.
What is CODA all about?
A world in which music is a marketed, addictive, mind-altering, and eventually fatal drug. And a musician who realizes he doesn't want the people he loves to suffer any more than they already have.
Where did the inspiration for CODA come from?
The Prodigy song “Voodoo People” at the beginning of the movie Hackers. Really. It is such a perfect choice to set the tone and mood of that movie. You hear the song and you know what you’re in for. It got me thinking about how effective music is at directing our thoughts. Maybe more effective than anything else.
Is there a songwriter you wish you could write a song with?
Oooh, good question. Robert Smith.
If we were to look on your iPod, what bands would come up the most?
Definitely the ones named above. I just looked in my “Top 25 Most Played” in iTunes for you and in addition to songs by those artists, songs by Slow Club, Animal Collective, Okkervil River, Frightened Rabbit, And One, Covenant, and the Limousines all make appearances.
Would you say your musical interests have a direct impact on what you write?
Yes. I haven’t yet written a book that wasn’t, at the very beginning, inspired by a specific song or piece of music I love. If that trend continues, my eventual body of written work is going to be very eclectic. The last manuscript I finished (a middle grade due Summer ‘14 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) has its roots in a ballet. CHORUS has a kind of theme song which has partly influenced the plot.
Is there a concert you attended that you’ll never forget?
Many! But I’m going to go with having seen David Bowie live. He was incredible and it was one of those nights where the crowd was really into it. Live music is a partnership, and I’ve been to a lot of gigs where that partnership didn’t work--which are the gigs you either forget or remember as just being okay.
Have you ever found a song you just couldn’t stop listening to?
Too many times to count. The most recent was Robert Delong’s “Global Concepts” and that one is my best friend’s fault. “Here,” she says. “You have to check out this song.” I listened to it for three days straight. And now I have to go listen to it again.
Are there any bands that you would like to recommend to everyone?
The Antlers are the first that popped into my head here. They deserve every accolade people can throw at them. Wolfsheim, who were sort of Germany’s answer to Depeche Mode. Yellow Ostrich. The National.
Final question, what genre of music best reflects Anthem, the eighteen-year old MC in CODA?
Electro-industrial, the unofficial sponsor of cyberpunks everywhere.
Thanks to Emma for taking the time to stop by All The Write Notes. CODA, a YA sci-fi novel set in a futuristic, dystopian New York City, is out May 7th, 2013 and you can find it's STARRED REVIEW over at Publishers Weekly. If you're looking to pre-order CODA, head down to your local book store, or pick it up on Amazon.
If you would like to find out more about Emma, check out her blog, or give her a follow on Twitter. BTW for those of you on Goodreads, you can add her book to your to-read pile by clicking here. Now sit back, sip on your tea, and enjoy a special Spotify playlist with tracks from the bands Emma loves. Enjoy!