The Song Stuck in My Head

by Guest Blogger on January 13, 2010 · 23 comments

in Book Intro, Contests, G-I, Guest Blogger

by Annemarie Hartnett, guest blogger and author of The Company of Fools

I have zero musical talent. I never played piano. I only ever mastered Madonna’s “True Blue on the keyboard. When I was a kid I took ukulele lessons at school and dropped out before the big Christmas concert. I was in the choir but stopped going at thirteen because, well, I was thirteen and it was a choice between singing the score from Oliver over and over or watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer with my best friend. Rodgers and Hammerstein didn’t stand a chance against Luke Perry on a motorbike.

Regardless, like most people, wherever I go there’s music. When reading a book that I’m really enjoying I get so wrapped up in it I start associating it with music. For example, late last year I read Paul Burke’s fantastic romantic comedy, Father Frank, and when Frank & Sarah finally shared a kiss I thought of David Gray’s “Be Mine.” I think this happens because you don’t so much read a book as experience it. Hours of your life is spent inside this imaginary world, and by reading you’re making a memory and in order for that memory to be whole your mind takes in everything it can – the scent of the candles you were burning while you were reading, the toasty-warm feel of the blanket you had wrapped around you, and a song that started playing in your head that says everything that the characters can’t – or won’t – say to one another.

My first release from Loose Id is called The Company of Fools and follows bar-owner Mike MacNab and waitress Kate Doucette as their relationship goes from friends to lovers. Mike’s foot-in-mouth disease coupled with Kate’s knack for going off the deep end when she’s not happy makes the road a bumpy one.  Set in a bar? You bet I had a soundtrack going on in my head for this. Even the title leapt out at me as I was driving a long stretch of road outside of the city with my music pumped up.

Synopsis:

Kate Doucette’s trying to get her life together. She’s working full time at Mike MacNab’s bar, going to school, and she just kicked out her Do-Nothing boyfriend. Things are looking up but with the construction going on in the bar, her money trouble’s looming over her, and her personal life in the toilet, Kate’s on a ledge and Mike is there to talk her down. One night she wants more than a pep talk; Kate asks her charming and handsome boss to spend a weekend in bed with her.

What could be a bigger stress-reliever than two days of bedroom Olympics with a guy who’s as hot for her as she is for him? The only problem is that he wants more than a weekend and it seems like he wants to fix her life for her. She adores Mike, but the last thing she needs is another headache in the form of Mr. Fixit.

Excerpt:

She loved working for him. It was only because she liked him that she was putting in so much extra these past few months while he was preoccupied with getting his latest project off the ground: the soon-to-be Wit Cracker, a pub with live music and dancing.

She shrugged. “When I’m driving your nice car around town, you’ll see what a great bullshitter I am. I’ll be sure to wave to you while you’re waiting for the bus.”

He scrunched up his face. “Do you make happy sounds while you’re gnawing on a man’s balls?”

“I would never gnaw on your balls, Mike. I prefer to squish them like cherry tomatoes.”

“Yeesh.” He winced and then winced again as the buzz saw started up. “Ah Christ! I was hoping they’d give it a rest so I could have an hour to myself before the supper crowd comes in and I have to get behind the bar. It’s bad enough this place is dead all afternoon.”

Kate rubbed her temples. “When all this is over, you owe your entire staff a big bonus for having to listen to this all day. I personally deserve something special for sitting down there for four hours with my finger jammed in my ear.”

“It’ll be worth it. The place is going to look great, and you’re going to get rich on tips.”

“Uh-huh.” She placed a polished fingernail at the corner of her eye. “This is the eyeball that has been twitching for three weeks. Behind this eyeball is a tumour that gets a little bigger every day. When it finally pushes my eyeball out of my head, I hope you’re there and you get my brain juice all over you.”

“That hurts, Katie.”

She poured fresh coffee into a tall MacNab’s mug and added a splash of cream before filling two paper cups for the workmen. She slid the mug towards Mike. “Trust me. When I finally snap, I’m taking you with me.”

She left him chuckling and marched over to the workmen. She stood with a cup in each hand and stared them down until they stood up. “Remember what I said. The coffee is free if you stay out of the bar.”

“Fair enough, love.”

“And don’t call me love, you old fart.”

“Fair enough, Miss.”

She eyed the twin butt-prints of dust left behind. “I hate those guys.”

Mike appeared at her side and held out a wet rag. “On days like this, I feel sorry for Joe. It must keep him up all hours of the night knowing that at any moment you could wake up and snap his neck.”

She gritted her teeth at the mention of her boyfriend and slapped the rag down on the tabletop. “I’m starting to talk to myself, Mike. All day I’m cleaning up after men, and this voice starts in my head. That voice sounds just like my mother right after my father started to go deaf in one ear and she would walk around muttering to herself. I’m twenty-five years old, and I’m turning into my mother.”

She leaned down and began wiping the chairs. A prickle started at the back of her neck and zipped between her toes. She peeked over her shoulder and found him ogling her backside.

She gave a little wiggle.

He grinned, tucked his phone into its holster, grabbed his coffee, and headed for the double doors leading to the basement. “Thanks. That’ll get me through the next hour without killing myself.”

“It’s a shame you can’t see my ass-floss in these shorts.”

“No offense, Katie, but when you call it ass-floss, it becomes the last thing I want to see.”

Read more of this excerpt and buy the book.

Annemarie’s Website

Leave a Comment

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pia Veleno January 13, 2010 at 8:24 AM

The stories pick the music for me. It drives me nuts when my characters pick songs I’d rather NOT hear over and over again.

Congrats on the new release AM.

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2 carol January 13, 2010 at 10:45 AM

I don’t really have any songs and books that are tied together in my head. To me music and reading are two very different experiences I guess. I even have trouble reading if I have the radio on.

Congrats on the release.

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3 Joder January 13, 2010 at 2:30 PM

Whenever I hear Bad to the Bone I can’t help but think of the men of Ward’s BDB–particularly Z. I usually do have music on while reading so I’m always finding a connection somewhere.

Congrats on the new release!!

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4 Isabel Roman January 13, 2010 at 2:48 PM

HAHA! It’s been so long since I’ve read a contemporary! Loved the excerpt, must read this book. If for no other reason than you mentioned Buffy. :)

I’m not sure I have a soundtrack for my stories, but I do see what you mean about music and scenes going together. They definitely do, and when I write sometimes I do need a specific song on repeat for that scene.

I think scifi writer John Ringo included a soundtrack for one of his books, when to change tracks, change CDs, etc throughout the whole thing. I don’t read him but it’s still pretty cool.

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5 Saranna DeWylde January 13, 2010 at 3:42 PM

Hmm. Every so often a song will push me kicking and screaming into a character fugue, but it’s always my own. :)

Congrats on the release, babe!

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6 Annemarie Hartnett January 13, 2010 at 3:57 PM

@Isabel Roman With the historicals you write I would have expected you’d be inundated with an inner soundtrack. I can’t so much as look at the teaser page for KISS OF SCANDAL without hearing some bold score (which, in my limited musical knowledge, amounts to the score to Anastasia lol)

@Joder & @carol I used to read only when I rode public transportation and I always had my music with me, so I think on some subconscious level I immediately equate the written word with music.

As well, the mention of music in a book can change my opinion of it. In Sophie Kinsella’s REMEMBER ME the song “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter factors heavily into the love story. I used to loathe that song but the scene that followed its inclusion in the book was just too sweet and sappy I now smile whenever I hear it.

@Pia Veleno I hear ya. Writing this I kept cursing Mike — “Why did you have to open this kind of bar? I don’t even like this type of music or go to these type of bars.” But, like you indicated, he was in charge of the tunes.

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7 Isabel Roman January 13, 2010 at 7:14 PM

I can’t so much as look at the teaser page for KISS OF SCANDAL without hearing some bold score (which, in my limited musical knowledge, amounts to the score to Anastasia lol)

HA! Ok, you caught me. Was thinking what I’m writing now, but you’re absolutely right. I did listen to Tschakovsky and Mussorgsky while writing Kiss of Scandal.

So tell me, what music should I listen to while reading this?

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8 Virginia C January 13, 2010 at 9:14 PM

Hi, Annemarie! Congratulations on “The Company of Fools”! I used to be a waitress for a Sicilian gentleman who owned a restaurant and lounge. It was a small “shoe box” style lounge, and it was usually filled over capacity. I had to hold my tray up over my head to go through the crowd. We actually had a live DJ, and he and I became friends. He always played “Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These” by the Eurythmics because he knew how much I loved it! Many times I went back and forth through that crowd while the lights flashed and flickered and I sang along with Annie Lennox! After a while, he just gave me his copy. I still have it, and it’s still my all-time favorite recording. I never tire of it : )

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9 Anysia January 13, 2010 at 9:15 PM

Congrats on the new release. Will be reading it soon. :)

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10 Anne Fescharek January 14, 2010 at 8:34 AM

The song I can’ t get out of my head is usually “The Spam Song” from Monty Python!! It goes, in a chant: “Spam spam spam spam”, then the chorus comes in: “Lovely spam, wonderful spam…”

No wonder I’m on Prozac!!

And I’d love to win that book. It would be therapeutic!

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11 JOYE January 14, 2010 at 8:40 AM

Enjoyed reading the comments. A song that often stays in my head is Oh What A Beautiful Morning. When I was small my grandmother taught me to sing that song in the morninh when i awakened. Sometimes, I keep singing that in my head.

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12 Lexi Ryan January 14, 2010 at 2:09 PM

I sometimes think writers should sell soundtracks right alongside their novels. :)

Can’t wait to read this, Annemarie!

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13 Annemarie Hartnett January 14, 2010 at 6:09 PM

@Isabel Roman – hrmm, I’d go for The Tragically Hip to start and then maybe the Pogues for the last couples of chapters.

@Saranna I’m sure the soundtrack in your head is quite terrifying :p

@Virginia C You should have married that DJ. Men who appreciate Annie Lennox are few and far between.

@Anysia Thanks but haven’t you suffered enough? lol

@Anne Fescharek LMAO! If I’ve got Monty Python in my head it’s usually Camelot, stuck on “I like to push the pram-a-lot.”

@JOYE Grannies are good for getting those old songs stuck in your head for life. In my case, one Granny had Jim Reeves and the other had old Gaelic songs.

@Lexi I’ve known a few writers who make up playlists. I never actually got why until I wrote this and I could hear what was playing in the bar, on the radio, on stage, etc.

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14 Rebekah E. January 14, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Sounds like a great book. I tend to get musicals stuck in my head. I seem to sing A few of my Favorite things all of the time.

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15 nettagyrl January 14, 2010 at 10:22 PM

Found you from Erotic Writers and Readers Ning and after reading the blurb I am excited to read. Plus you said Buffy, which is always a win-win situation!

My life is a musical regardless if I am reading a book or just contemplating the next chapter of my life, so no one song comes to mine except maybe anything from Xanadu. Olivia Newton John just does it for me, lol, and for whatever reason that soundtrack just gets me going!

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16 Saschakeet January 15, 2010 at 1:25 AM

It doesn’t seem fair but I tend to get bad songs stuck in my head. I won’t mention any since it would be rude to pass bad songs on to someone else. I do have a favorite soundtrack for reading though. Last of the Mohicans is rich and lush and I love how it builds.

Congrats on your shiny new book.

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17 jennifer mathis January 15, 2010 at 11:50 AM

with most vampire stories at some point I usual hear My Immortal by evanesense.

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18 Tracey D January 15, 2010 at 4:46 PM

I read The Briar King last year and I can’t stop thinking about it. There are so many parts of it that has burned into my memory that I must pick it up and re-read it.

Sheesh…..

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19 Erin T January 16, 2010 at 9:57 AM

The book that always sticks in my head is Kiss An Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. When I first read it, I thought it was going to be a goofy novel, I mean a romance that takes place in a circus? But it was very witty and funny. And also had moments that brought tears to my eyes. That book is my “go to” book when I run out of things to read. No matter how many times I have read it, it still affects me the same way.

Great excerpt, thanks for the chance!

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20 Marcieo January 16, 2010 at 7:58 PM

I have noticed several authors put soundtracks to books on their web pages, or even at the end of the books lately, but for some reason I have never combined the two. The both move me emotionally, but I don’t associate music with books. I usually associate music with people instead.

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21 Maureen January 17, 2010 at 6:09 AM

I don’t really think of different songs when I’m reading a book but some songs do make me think of stories that they tell.

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22 RobynL January 18, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Hi and welcome; I love contemp romance and the story line of friends to lovers. I’m pleased I came across you and your book.
I, too, don’t associate songs with the book I’m reading. But it is interesting thinking about it now.
Ass-floss – now that’s a new one for me(or does it mean a thong), lol.

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23 Keira January 21, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Giveaway Update: New Winner Batch

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