The Soundtrack of Their Lives
by Katey Hawthorne
Thanks for having me, Blogger Girls! So glad to be here!
My latest novel, The Rise of Virginie, is about small town Appalachian folk with rock star dreams. They call their new band Virginie, partly in honor of their (and my!) home state, West Virginia, partly because Han, who comes up with the name, is a virgin and he thinks he’s being funny. I’ve written about musicians before—rock musicians in particular—in Riot Boy, the second Superpowered Love book, and part of the reason I love it is that music is such a big part of my life.
I don’t know if this is a fun fact or not, but both of my parents were music teachers before retirement, my mom taught me how to play the guitar, and my brother is an incredible singer. Family gatherings tended to have a lot of music involved, and my summers were spent doing community theater musicals. We’re those nerds, yes! Nowadays I mostly listen, but oh man, do I love to listen. And make playlists for every book I write, hell, sometimes every character I write, because that’s just how I roll. Here’s the one for The Rise of Virginie, and some exclusive liner notes! (Recommended listening: put it on shuffle!)
+BRMC “Spread Your Love” – I always imagine this kind of sexy groove is exactly what Virginie gets going. Neither of the singers from this band sounds at all like I imagine Han, but musically, vintage BRMC or Bust.
+The Cure “Friday I’m in Love” – A tiny excerpt from one of Virginie’s early shows:
We’d debated how the crowd at the Paradise would do with the Cure, but ultimately decided fuck it, it was us, and we were doing it. Plus, Han could rock some Robert Smith-sans-accent. We were in the middle of a rollicking rendition of “Friday, I’m in Love” when I started to really feel the band’s chemistry that night. There was something in the way Han moved to it, the sway of his hips and the bounce of his head, that mesmerized me. My fingers moved like magic, and I fucking love that riff, man, so I was in the zone. The girls were flawless, really on their game, and for just a second, shit was golden.
And then, of course, everything goes to shit. But they had a moment!
+Arctic Monkeys “Perhaps Vampires is a Bit Strong But…” – This is the quintessential “we’re forming a band and we’re awesome, fuck your patronizing naysaying bullshit” song. One of the main characters, Stefan, definitely has that attitude, and so does their drummer, Megan. Han, the other MC … bless him, he tries.
+Lou Reed “Vicious” – Lou Reed gets flack in this book as not being the best to listen to when you’re going through some shit. But in his favor, he could also rock it out, and this song pretty much works on multiple levels for various characters in the book. Also its origin story…
Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. “He said, ‘Why don’t you write a song called ‘Vicious,'” Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. “And I said, ‘What kind of vicious?’ ‘Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.’ And I wrote it down literally. -Rolling Stone https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/vicious-78880/
+Blondie “One Way or Another” – I mean, who doesn’t love Blondie? This song is actually about stalking, which doesn’t happen in the book, but there’s plenty of creepy-ass betrayal. Plus, well, Debbie Harry was my spiritual inspiration for the character of Megan in some ways. Another tiny excerpt:
By the time I got off from the Watering Hole, Megan had margaritas ready. We drank most of a bottle of tequila, listened to a lot of Blondie, traded oral sex, and smoked two packs of cigarettes—the usual revelry.
Around four a.m., when we were chilling naked on her couch with half-dead margaritas and full ashtrays, I was relaxed enough to admit, “I really want to be in a band again.”
Megan made a face that seemed appropriate, since it transformed her into a wistful Debbie Harry. “I miss it so fucking much, Stef.”
Of course, Han and Stef write their own tunes almost from the moment they meet, so there’s plenty of that too. But music, like a story, isn’t created in a void. Inspiration from the best!