It helps mend a broken heart. It makes your father’s fourth wedding more bearable. It sets the mood as you cruise down a coastal highway, top down, while the salty air whips your hair.
For writers, however, music isn’t just something to listen to. It’s often a catalyst for creativity – sparking fresh ideas, birthing new characters, and energizing the mind and body – ultimately allowing us to expand what we know beyond our own experiences.
Pondering the power of music then, I decided to reach out to a handful of fellow indie writers to see what they’re listening to right now. In turn, I’ve compiled their individual playlists here, complete with links to each song on YouTube. The selections below are eclectic, interesting, telling, and fun – and you’ll probably find a new favorite of your own among them. I definitely did. Brooding, pop-rocky ballad “Holes Inside” by Joe Brooks was added to my own playlist and I can’t stop listening to it. Now, what will you add to yours?
Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan, author of the children’s book My Food Notebook and The Bumpy, Grumpy Road, is currently working on her first indie novel for adults. It’s set in the early years of the Great Depression, which is why she’s listening to popular tunes from the 1930s to help set the mood. Some of her favorites so far include:
“The Object of My Affection” by The Boswell Sisters
“Jeepers Creepers” by Al Donahue and Paula Kelly
“Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Calloway
“Down and Out Blues” by Jimmy Mesene
“Whistle While You Work” by Shep Fields & his Rippling Rhythm Orchestra
Carri Summers is working on a prequel to her debut novel Alter Ego in Chanel, a non-fiction ode to fashion, social climbing, and startling secrets. To keep herself creative and productive, she counts these tunes as her top five:
“Too Close” by Alex Clare
“Raise Your Glass” by P!nk
“Wide Awake” by Katy Perry
“Lose Yourself” by Eminem
Candace Jane Kringle’s playlist might seem like a farce at first glance, but it’s totally legit. It makes more sense when you consider that the festively named indie author penned the book North Pole High: A Rebel Without a Claus. Somebody give this lady an award in branding already.
“We Need A Little Christmas” by Glee Cast
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by The Jackson 5
“Nothin’ For Christmas” by Eartha Kitt
“The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole Trio
“The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” by The Chipmunks
Cristal Carrington is the indie author of The Socialite’s Guide To: Choosing the Right Cocktail, and she stays motivated during the day by listening to a feverish mixture of oldies and goodies, more specifically a blend of vintage rock and modern hip-hop. “The songs are packed with uplifting and positive affirmations that range from gracious and smooth to bass-heavy and loud, with all the elements a girl needs to get her through the madness of being a mom, entrepreneur, and
social butterfly,” she says. With a name like Cristal and a book about booze, it makes you wonder if she’s taking marketing advice from Ms. Kringle up there.
“Amazing” by Kanye West feat. Young Jeezy
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
“I’m Beamin” by Lupe Fiasco
“We Are The Champions” by Queen
“Make You Feel That Way” by Blackalicious
Dee Doanes, author of the paranormal mystery The Man With the Green Suitcase, says she likes to play the selections below chronologically as each serve a different purpose – like clearing writer’s block or increasing her energy – during a writing session.
“Scherzo Op. 31” by Chopin (played by Yundi Lin here)
“You Should Be Stronger Than Me” by Amy Winehouse
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift
“Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys feat. Nicki Minaj
“The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson
Christopher Dearman says that all the songs on his playlist “have driving beats that gets the blood flowing during those times I need to be motivated to keep writing.” And he doesn’t just play them, he says – he plays them loud! Dearman is the indie author of Santa’s Village Gone Wild! Takes of Summer Fun, Hijinx & Debauchery as Told by Those Who Worked There. That title is longer than the Naughty List, eh?
“Don’t Wake Me Up” by Chris Brown
“Comeback Kid” by Sleigh Bells
“This High” by Timothy H
Walter G. Meyer creates a playlist and puts up photos of things that relate to the story he’s writing. For a World War II novel he wrote, he listened to Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman. Currently he’s working on a sequel to his most recent novel, Rounding Third, for which he says the soundtrack has stayed largely the same.
“Holes Inside” by Joe Brooks
“Different” by Acceptance
“Centerfield” by John Fogerty
“The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley
“Sweet and Low” by Augustana
M Dickson’s book, Dear Dad, It’s Over: Turning custody into candor, is a humorous take on the effects of divorce from a child’s perspective, which was published this past May. She’s hard at work on his next project. The top five songs she keeps on repeat on her iPod are:
“The Most” by Lori McKenna
“I Will Keep The Bad Things From You” by The Damnwells
“All Too Well” by Taylor Swift
“Don’t Make Me Hold Your Hand” by Lake Street Dive
“Late for the Sky” by Jackson Browne