Words & Music Monday with Crista McHugh

This week’s music chat comes from a VERY busy lady. Author of MANY “works-in-progress”, and new (again) mommy, Crista McHugh. Thank you SO MUCH to Crista for sending us this post before her new little guy arrived. Congrats to your family on your new arrival!!

Thank you, Jennifer, for having me over for Words &Music Monday. I do most of my plotting/scene work while driving in the car. Occasionally (or to be more specific, when I’m stumped on a scene), I’ll crank up the radio and listen to music. But being a writer, I’m drawn more to the lyrics than the melody. Sometimes a line or two of a song will spark a scene, help me figure out a character’s motivation, or sometimes even inspire an entire story (ex – “Would You…” by Touch and Go).

My current WIP is a novel that’s been especially difficult for me to work through because it was a story I didn’t set out to write. It’s the sequel to a book I sold to Entangled Publishing (Tangled Web – think Stargate meets Ancient Rome), so I needed to come up with a story that equaled the intensity of the first book. I knew who the book was about and what the basic plot was since I had to come up with a synopsis when I sold it, but it was all the filler that was rattling around in my mind during the daily commute.

Then Ace of Base came on (Yes, I’m that old :P). As I listened to the lyrics of “Don’t Turn Around”, a scene bloomed in my mind. I saw the Heroine presenting the Hero with a choice—go with her or complete his mission—knowing he would choose the latter even though it broke her heart. I saw her putting on a brave face for him, telling him not to worry about her and that she understood his decision. And then I saw him turning around as he walked away and the way that one final glance tore her apart on the inside.

One little song had the power to inspire such an intense, emotional scene, and I knew I had a great turning point for my story.

As I wrote the novel, I found songs here and there that helped me work through certain scenes. “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails set the tone for the first love scene (there’s a bit of a power-play between this couple), whereas “Your Body is a Wonderland” by John Mayer fit the final love scene. “Perfect” by Pink helped me develop those scenes between the couple (out of bed) as they both came to term with their imperfections and found the beauty in them.

My next project is the sequel to A Soul For Trouble, continuing the story of a witch with the soul of a disembodied chaos god living inside her. Every time I hear “Little Talks” by Of Monsters & Men on the radio, I can’t help but think of the complex relationship between Arden, Loku, and Dev.

Are there certain songs that immediately cause a scene from a book to pop into your head? If so, what are they?

**Crista has been generous enough to offer one ebook copy of any of her previous books to one randomly chosen commenter!! So… let’s hear it… what song makes YOU think of a certain book, or certain scene in a book? Contest starts now and runs through Sunday night, June 3rd. Winner will be chosen and notified by email on Monday, June 4th. GOOD LUCK everyone!! Can’t wait to hear what music/book connections you’ve all got!!**


  1. Comment by teronangel:

    Hi, Christa–

    As I told Jennifer, I wrote Wounded while listening to Coldplay– the song Clocks almost exclusively. To this day that song makes me think of Adrian and Bracken and ache.

    Also, I just finished a book called Mourning Heaven (it will be out in August) that was written to the Bruce Springsteen Magic soundtrack. (Saddest, angriest thing I’ve ever written. Go Bruce!)

    I love music– I love the Kitty the Werewolf books, because she’s got such a clear soundtrack there.

  2. Comment by Michele Stegman:

    Most classical music does it for me! The Hebrides is wonderful, Peer Gynt Sweet, Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini…etc.

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