How Do I Love Playlists? Let Me Count the Ways


Long before I was a writer, I was a musician. It’s the steady thread that has woven throughout my life. Music runs in my family. My mother was a ballroom dancer, and even though she couldn’t carry a tune to save her life, the songs which poured out of her heart were never ending. My father was a classical trombonist and jazz musician. I don’t remember time when he wasn’t writing out new charts for his dance band or transcribing tunes from off the thick 78 RPM records which continually emanated out of the family Victrola. And what an eclectic cacophony of musical sounds pervaded our little home from the likes of Gladys Swarthout, Spike Jones, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Enrico Caruso, Hank Williams, Pee Wee Russell, David Seville and the Three Chipmunks, just to name a few. My childhood was literally underscored by a playlist made up from nearly every imaginable genre. It’s no wonder then that today as an adult my musical tastes are all over the musical map.

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Interestingly, this interest in music shows up radically in my novels, so much so that a playlist can be easily made from each of the nine books I’ve thus far written.  As a writer I’m very much aware of how music stimulates my own writer’s imagination, keeps me focused on and stayed in the world I’m creating within each story, and assists me in writing from a deeply emotional place, which is paramount in my opinion if one is to write romance. My process depends on what I listen to as I write.

When writing my first book for Soul Mate Publishing, Loves Harvest, I was very much aware of how important the classical piano was to the heroine, as I was of how vital Ranchera music was to the hero. Each time I went to my shed to write, I made sure my Kindle was programmed to serenade me while I worked. Being bathed each hour in the music central to my story and the people who lived there also helped me in those moments when my writer’s voice became stuck. Then my thoughts would go something like this:

Oh, geez, now what happens? Maybe I should’ve held off that first kiss until later … Or maybe I needed to begin this relationship earlier … I don’t know.

And just about that time the song on my preprogrammed playlist would switch to Luis Miguel singing La Gloria Eres Tu, and I’d be back on my novel’s journey once again.

I also think it’s fun for our readers to get an insight as to where the book musically lives for us as writers. Listening to an author’s playlist may very well deepen their experience as they make their way through the book. At the very least it will give them an interesting glimpse as to who we are as people and what we enjoy listening to.


Finally, I enjoy sharing my playlists with my readers in my bi-monthly newsletters.  It is yet another way to connect and develop long-lasting relationships with my readers, and introduce them to the world of the story they are yet to read. A musical back blurb, if you will.

Gwen Overland