Choosing Music for These Wicked Deeds

Book News Media

I’m a huge fan of music. If you asked me to give up television or music for the rest of my life, I’d choose television. I can live without t.v. and if you ask Mr. Luxe, I don’t really watch much anyway. I usually work on something with t.v. in the background for noise. But music, I can not live without.

Like books, a good song or piece of music can stick with you for a long time even after the final notes have been played or transport you somewhere else. Music is shaped by emotion and has the power to convey that emotion to the listener, much like words for a reader.

Or at least that’s my opinion. While I’m cobbling together a public playlist, I thought I’d share with you a bit about how I select music for a book or character.

Music is important to my process as it helps me connect with a character. Favorite songs, artists, and genres are personal and can reveal a lot about a person’s personality or development. The same go for characters. I don’t seek songs and try to force the book or characters into those song choices. More often than not, I’ll hear a random piece or song somewhere or on the millions of cultivated public playlists on Spotify. That song will trigger a mood, or I’ll imagine a scene with it. Then it ends up on the playlist.

For example, I was listening to Spotify’s “Ultimate Boybands” playlist. It had a good mix from New Kids on the Block to Backstreet Boys and N’Sync and all flavors in between. Some of the bands I was familiar with, some I was not. I’d heard a few One Direction songs during their heyday on the radio, but by the time they’d come along, music had changed, and I infrequently listened to Top 40 radio, opting to stream songs and music. Their sound, like many boybands before them, was geared toward tweens and teens. However, the song “Story of My Life” played as I was working in my garden. As I listened to the words, not only was the beat poppy and infectious, but the words in the song reminded me of Sofía, Nikolai, and Wes when they were teens.


I pictured Sofía as a regular teenage girl who’d undoubtedly have posters of bands and musicians she liked on her walls (like many of us did– for the record, I had both N’Sync and BSB). I pictured her singing the song at the top of her lungs and driving the boys crazy with it. But they’d put up with it because they liked her, and there’s always this sense that even when she’s being a little annoying, they find her adorable.

I also heard the song “I’m Kissing You” by Des’ree (it was featured in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet film from 1996… one of my favorite retellings). I hadn’t heard that song in years, but the moment I heard it, I went to stream it and ended up writing the last scene in These Wicked Deeds to it.

Fun Fact: I’d written that last scene months before I’d ever gotten to the end of the book. I finished with a draft of the last scene in the middle of writing chapter five of the book.

I guess this is my long-winded way of saying that often it doesn’t feel like I pick the music, but rather the story and its characters do the choosing, and I simply listen to their choice.

Teaser Playlist:

  • “Story of My Life”- One Direction
  • “I’m Kissing You”- Des’ree
  • “I Drove All Night”- Cindy Lauper
  • “Drivers License”- Olivia Rodrigo
  • “Rewrite the Stars”- Zac Efron and Zendaya from “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack
  • “Ghost of You”- 5 Seconds of Summer
  • “Darlin'”- Goodbye Jane
  • “And I’m Here”- Kim Kyung Hee (featured on the soundtrack for the K-Drama “Goblin: Great and Lonely God”)
  • “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”- Pandora’s Box
  • “Real Love Song”- Nothing But Thieves
  • “Glory Box”- Portishead
  • “Raise Hell”- Brandi Carlisle
  • “Right Here Waiting”- Monica and 112
  • “Desire”- Meg Myers
  • “Hrs & Hrs”- Muni Long
  • “Need You Now”- Lady A

That’s not even half the list. Let’s just say Spotify says my playlist run time is 13 hours, 22 mins.