Thanks so much for having me here at EverAfter Romance! I’m so excited to introduce you to Illusion, the third and final book in my Hoodoo Apprentice trilogy, which is out now, and to share a little insight on the music that inspired this book and the others in the series, Conjure and Allure.
Things aren’t always as they appear…
New school. Cross-country move. Broken heart. If only these were Emma Guthrie’s worst problems. Instead, she must battle a trio of enemies–human and spectral–who may or may not have joined forces against her and everyone she loves. All while pretending to be over Cooper Beaumont, her ex-boyfriend and true love, to shield him from her arch-nemesis’s revenge.
Worse, when the fight escalates, Emma is tempted to use black magic, which will endanger her soul. As her enemies close in, join forces, and fight with new and dark magic she’s never seen before, Emma must harness the power within her to fulfill an ancient prophecy, defeat a centuries-old evil, save her family, and reclaim the only boy she’s ever loved.
1. How do you make your playlists for your books?
I start with the book’s theme or what I have planned for the characters’ emotional arc and then try to match the tone of the music to what I expect the book will be about. So if there’s going to be a lot of sad or scary stuff happening I’m not going to pick a fun, up beat song. Instead, chances are I’ll find a tune that makes me want to curl into a ball and rock in a corner under a ton of blankets. In Conjure, the series’ first book, Emma had a massive and unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper Beaumont. She loves every single thing about him and nearly falls to piece whenever he looks her way. To me, that feeling was captured by Colbie Caillat’s Bubby.
It sounds weird but I also need to match the singer’s gender to that of the character I’m writing about. For example, in Allure, the second book in the series, Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love was a perfect match for Emma’s feelings for Cooper and how far she’d go to protect him. Here’s a snippet of the song’s gorgeous lyrics:
I’d go hungry; I’d go black and blue,
And I’d go crawling down the avenue.
No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my love.
Unfortunately Bob Dylan is a dude and I couldn’t “hear” Emma in those chords until I found Adele’s version.
2. Do you use the entire playlist for the whole book or specific parts for certain sections or types of scenes?
Sometimes one song is enough to cover the whole book or vast chunks of it. When I was writing Conjure, Bubbly was the only song I listened to. For Allure, Make You Feel My Love covered a lot of the bases, but I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie helped bring it home for me:
But Illusion was another story entirely. As the series finale, there were many plot threads to tie up and a well of emotions to plumb, so I found I needed more music than I normally do. And as a finale, the stakes are higher, the action super intense, and the consequences more dire. Not surprisingly, the music I sought had to match the darker tone of the story. Thankfully Paramore’s repertoire contained just what I needed. Of the many songs on my Illusion playlist, these were the most influential:
Paramore’s We Are Broken helped put me in Emma’s headspace at the beginning of Illusion. She and Cooper have been through some rough terrain and this song sums up where they are. Similarly, the song All I Wanted helped me feel Emma’s longing to make everything okay between them.
Paramore’s Let the Flames Begin conveyed the encroaching fight between Emma and Cooper and their enemies. To be honest, I hardly listened to the lyrics, the music itself encapsulated the sensation of being under threat and the instinctive need to fight back.
3. How does the music impact your writing process?
When I write, I pick the best song for the particular scene or chapter and listen to it on repeat all day. After a few plays, I don’t notice the lyrics anymore and just feel the essence of the song which helps inform the characters’ feelings and tone of the story. Songs can also inspire my plotting process or spark plot twists I never saw coming.
4. Do certain songs or artists continually come up in your book playlists?
Nope! Each book and its characters are pretty unique, so the music has to be, too. Also, after listening to a song thousands of times, it’s pretty much worn out. I don’t think I’d want to include it in a new project.
5. Does the music on your playlists also get put into your casual listening?
Most of the time it doesn’t. Again, after a thousand listens of a particular song, I’m basically spent. Also, the music becomes very much wedded to a character/scene/or emotional sentiment so it’s no longer “mine” but belongs to my heroine or hero. That said, there are a couple songs I’d love no matter how many time I hear them. Adele’s version of Make You Feel My Love is one of them. I love Adele and could listen to her sing a piece of tax legislation if necessary (though I’m not sure it would be too catchy!).
6. What’s one piece of writing advice you would like to share?
Read, read, read. There’s no better teacher than a well-written book crafted by a great writer and shaped by a talented editor. And be active when you read. Take notice of what you think is compelling about the book—how does it start, how do chapters end, how does the writer make you connect with the characters, and convince you of how they feel about each other? All these things are what we writers call “craft” and are learnable if you’re observant enough to recognize them and then put them into practice.
Thanks so much for having me! It was so much fun to introduce you Illusion and share the music of The Hoodoo Apprentice Series with you!
Lea Nolan is a USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance and YA. Her books for young adults feature bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She also pens smart, witty contemporary stories for adults filled with head-swooning, heart-throbbing, sweep-you-off your feet romance. Born and raised on Long Island, New York, she loves the water far too much to live inland. With her heroically supportive husband and three clever children, she resides in Maryland where she scarfs down crab cakes whenever she gets the chance. Learn more at her LeaNolan.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Goodreads