When I responded to a fellow Sisters in Crime member to partner with her for a “SinC-up blog hop", I didn’t realize we would have a writing trait in common other than we both write mysteries. It turns out we also like to listen to music when we write. You can read H.A. Somerled’s blog on writing with music here. And learn about her books here.
I’ve talked about how music has helped me get in character and dropped me into a deeper POV while writing. I listen to Native American drum and flute music as well as music by Karen Therese while writing the Spirit trilogy—three historical books set among the Nez Perce.
While writing the Action Adventure books, I listened to first Guatemalan music while Isabella Mumphrey, the heroine, was in Guatemala, then Mexican music when she was in Mexico City, and Native American music when she found adventure in Arizona while tracking down a Hopi ceremonial kiva.
Now that I’m working on a mystery, I listen to jazz. My amateur sleuth is half Nez Perce, so why don’t I listen to Native American music, you might ask. Simply because Jazz lends itself to mysteries.
As a junior in high school I attended a Jazz music summer camp. At that camp we learned that you not only have to learn the song’s melody and rhythm, but you have to make up your own rendition of the melody when it’s your instruments turn to solo.
So, like a mystery story that starts out with the standard structure: someone is killed, sleuths-amateur or professional or both try to solve the murder, and there is a twist at the end, a jazz song also has the fundamentals of the song that everyone knows and adheres to. But then, like a jazz song has improvisation by several different instruments, the author gets to improvise by leading readers into what if’s and red herrings to take them on a ride of suspense, just like the instruments in a jazz song take the listener on a journey with their unique spins on the melody.
Jazz songs have emotion and melody. They have soft and hard. All the aspects that need to be hit in a mystery as it is being written and read.
And that’s why I listen to jazz while writing mystery.
Have you ever connected a song or artist with a book you read?