It is with pleasure I welcome Amy McNamara to Book Angel Booktopia today to share the music to go with her powerfully emotional book Lovely, Dark and Deep (Review HERE)
Lovely, Dark and Deep is about a girl on the run. After surviving an accident which killed her ex-boyfriend, Wren Wells is hiding out in Northern Maine far from the action of her life in New York City. She’s trying to stop herself in time, seal herself away in silence, refusing to move on to the rest of her life.
When I sat down to write I used music to evoke some of the natural intensity of my setting—the great shushing breath of pines towering over her, the insistent bass crescendo of the sea— as well as to help me access the deep quiet, sadness and loss that Wren feels. I listened to a lot of music, but ended up with a playlist of about 25 songs I played often.
General mood – “Deep Blue Sea” by Grizzly Bear from their album Friend. I chose this one for its gentle, slightly despairing quiet. Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen’s melodic harmonies (backed up by the incomparable Chris Taylor and Chris Bear) conjured a skiff softly rocking on the waves.
For Wren’s internal landscape – “We Are Fine” from Tramp by Sharon Van Etten, backed up by Zach Condon. The lyrics to this song were like a wish – something Wren might be telling herself, and definitely what I was hoping for her—some of the lyrics are “Trying hard to breathe,” and “Take my hand and help me not to shake/ Say I’m alright,” with its hopeful rejoinder, “It’s okay to feel/ Everything is real…Cause we’re alright.”
Another song I imagined Wren identifying with was HoneyHoney’s “Willow Tree” from their album First Rodeo. Particularly the lyrics, “I have become the moral of the story/They say, “Don’t end up like that one”/ And then plot the future for me.”
Then there’s the incredible music of Bon Iver (aka Justin Vernon), who, after a loss of his own, exiled himself to a cabin in Wisconsin and not to emerge until he’d written his amazing album For Emma, Forever Ago. After he took the world by storm he released a few more songs on an EP titled Blood Bank. One of those songs, “Woods,” is a deeply meditative, repetitive, dark song that helped me access the feeling Wren has when she slides out the door and runs, runs, runs to escape the feelings rising up inside her.
Lovely, Dark and Deep is so deeply rooted in Wren’s point of view, I needed some music that spoke to optimism, love, and the future. Songs to help me imagine the story from Cal’s and Mary’s perspectives.
“Simple Things” by the Violet Archers from their album The End of Part One is one of them. The lyrics are hopeful and I can imagine Cal or Mary wishing Wren would wake up and understand. They sing, “Forsake not what’s around you/ For simple things are at hand/ You might get tossed on water/ But keep your heart peeled for land.”
Lastly there’s “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” by Stars from their album Set Yourself on Fire. They sing, “Live through this and you won’t look back.”
To see more tracks, check out the full list on my website www.amymcnamara.com.
Synopsis from Goodreads
A resonant debut novel about retreating from the world after losing everything—and the connections that force you to rejoin it.Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s studio in the far-north woods of Maine. Somewhere she can be alone.
Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. When the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her.