On Music and Character Development

If you've read my book, you probably figured out that I connect a lot with music in my writing. This isn't by accident. I'm a trained musician myself, and it's always played a major role in how I connect with the world around me. 

So it wasn't by accident that Skylar, the narrator of Legally Yours, comes from a musical family. I made this choice for a few reason. Well, I should say more accurately that she made the choice, because most of those scenes involving music came out of nowhere. When Brandon showed up in New York, I had no idea they were going to end up at her dad's show in Brooklyn. When he showed up at her dorm, I had no idea she was going to be playing the piano. 

But in the end, these things made sense. My goal in these books was to make the characters believable and multi-dimensional. Skylar and Brandon are supposed to be accomplished, even brilliant at times. They both went to some of the best schools in the country. I actually went to NYU myself, and also went to school in Boston. I know the kinds of people who attend these colleges. They do a lot of stuff. 

So I borrowed from some of those experiences to write these scenes. The moment where Skylar plays the piano in her dorm basement, for instance, was lifted directly from my own college experiences at NYU, which has pianos in the common areas to accommodate the music students. While I was living a city full of strangers and noise (not to mention in a room with two other girls), playing the piano at two AM in an empty basement was one of the few times I found peace and time truly to myself. The club where Danny's band plays is modeled on a jazz club I used to frequent back then too: a place called Smalls that's actually in the Village, not in Brooklyn. 

The classical music is equally important too. The Boston Symphony is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city (and that's saying something), and seeing a show there is really an experience of grandeur, something I wanted to associate with Brandon's life. Likewise, the piece on the piano that Skylar plays for him later in the book, Chopin's Waltz in C Sharp Minor, perfectly captures the ups and downs of their relationship. 

In the next book, you'll see music continue to filter in and out of the story. Bruce Springsteen, who, as you probably know, is one of Brandon's favorites, is one example. Music was an important way that he connected with his foster mother, and as she enters the story more in Book 2, I've been listening to a lot of stuff I sense is on her record shelf: a lot of classic rock from the mid-to-late seventies, and a bit of eighties pop. Susan really likes Heart, I found out. And, weirdly, Cyndi Lauper, whom I don't love. So now "Time after Time" is on a loop in my house, and no one is that happy about it. Thanks a lot, Susan. 

So, to give you a feel for the series (and to hold you over until the next book comes out), here's some of the music to tide you over. Can you think of anything I'm missing for these characters? Post on my Facebook Page or send me a Tweet! 

Crazy on You by Heart


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