Feeling It: Inspiration for Characters
Music has a lot to do with setting the emotional tone for my stories. I’ve always been a music lover, and almost went into music for college before changing to psychology (I was a psychologist for 25 years.) Usually what happens with me in my writing is that I already have the story and I have it plotted out and get to business. But I have my ears open for inspirational music (this was something recommended by My Book Therapy authors Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren that resonated with me.) Sometimes, for instance with a story about Pontiac’s Rebellion, I specifically looked for a Scottish fiddle song that my hero could relate to. I also used that same tune for another character. Both men were widowers and the song was a mournful lament (Neil Gow’s Lament for His Second Wife.) The song on YouTube for Archer’s Fiddle school was my favorite version.
For my current release, The Fruitcake Challenge, I was driving along listening to K-Love radio, which I adore, and I heard this amazing song, “Hope in Front of Me.” I am not a television watcher. I follow Joyce Meyer faithfully, some HGTV, Downton Abbey, and a few shows on Hallmark. So I had no clue who Danny Gokey was or that he was on American Idol. But I did know this—when I listened to his song, I began to cry because I totally understood how my character, Josephine “Jo” Christy, felt stuck in that lumber camp and not seeing any way out yet trying, on her own, to find a way onto a new life! So now I was feeling her emotion. And emotion is what we want on the pages. So as I wrote the final scenes, I was especially in touch with the turmoil Jo was feeling. I was Jo, as I wrote, and as God began to work, that “hope in front of me” became real.
In 2013, when I was writing my story “Snowed In: A Northwoods Christmas” for Guidepost Books A Cup of Christmas Cheer I listened to a lot of music from the 1940’s, in particular a lot of Bing Crosby, who I really enjoyed listening to as a child. So I’d be out on my deck, where I write, in the 80 degree heat of May pounding out my story as Bing was crooning, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”
Sometimes a song is very unexpected as an inspiration. We happened to have a music awards show on the television in 2013 and these young contemporary music singers belted out this amazing tune that I immediately knew was my hero, Matthew Scott’s, and my heroine, Angelina Rose’s, song! A very popular song, “I Will Wait for You” by Mumford and Sons. It really had that old timey Civil War era feeling, with the banjos and the harmonizing vocals! Plus that was exactly was Matthew and Angelina were both doing—he was waiting for her and she was waiting to free her nephew and niece from slavery. Sometimes I listened to the song as Angelina and other times I listened as Matthew, dependent upon whose scene I was working on!
Besides music, I’ll do other things, like have certain scents going or nearby, e.g., lilacs for Mackinac Island, that also inspire me. But no, I did not bake any fruitcakes while writing The Fruitcake Challenge! I’ll save that for this Christmas.
Question: Does it surprise you that music can inspire or evoke the emotions of a character?
GIVEAWAY: Ebook copy of The Fruitcake Challenge and your choice of Danny
Gokey’s CD or MP3 collection.
More about Carrie:
Carrie Fancett Pagels Ph.D. is an award-winning, best-selling, and multi-published Christian historical romance author. Carrie was a psychologist for twenty-five years. Married for twenty-seven years with two children. Carrie resides in Virginia’s Historic Triangle and enjoys reading, traveling and researching. She’s a finalist for the 2014 Maggie Awards for Excellence.
Blogs: Overcoming With God and Colonial Quills
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Links to purchase:
The Fruitcake Challenge (2014) on Amazon
A Cup of Christmas Cheer, Guidepost Books (2013)
Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance (Helping Hands Press, 2013) on Amazon in ebook
On Barnes and Noble in ebook
God’s Provision in Tough Times Lighthouse of the Carolinas (2013) on Amazon