January 6, 2010
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Veracity is Laura Bynum's emotionally compelling debut novel. This dystopian tale of a despotic government and the power of words is dark and thrilling, and has been compared to both 1984 and A Handmaid's Tale.
On the heels of some political and media concerns I'd been having, the concept of Veracity came to me while I was jogging. I was listening to Coldplay's Speed of Sound when the story came, all at once, into my head and I had to race home to write it down. Music has played a huge part in helping me envision my characters, the world in which they live, and their stories. Here are some songs that inspired me while writing Veracity.
"Speed of Sound," by Coldplay
As I mentioned, this was the song in my ears when the story of Veracity dropped into my head. There was something about the beat and its urgency, and the line 'How long before you decide?' that got to me. It was like I was being given a cosmic ultimatum - was I finally ready to get serious about this writing thing, or what? I got serious.
"Solsbury Hill," by Peter Gabriel
Aside from being my favorite song, this is about opening one's eyes and choosing clarity over comfort. Of giving up false security and palliatives. I would say this song is the heart and soul of the book. The lines that get me every time: 'I'm feeling part of the scenery. I walked right out of the machinery.'
"Lilac Wine," by Nina Simone
In the Confederation of the Willing, true connections between people are considered dangerous. The government wants to replace love with sex and fulfillment with the quick thrill. One of the things I admire about Harper is that she's always wanted more. This song makes me think about two scenes: the first is where Harper is comforted by her recruiter after having forfeited her child, a man she believes is her true love though she's never actually met him; and the second is where they're about to make love in the underground library. The last line of the song breaks my heart every time I hear it, it's so full of longing. 'I feel I'm ready for my love.'
"In The End," Linkin Park
To me, the strength of this song is in its pent-up passion and self-directed anger - Harper's exact feelings for not having left the Confederation of the Willing earlier. It's a love/hate song from Harper to the government.
"I'm So Sick," Flyleaf
The words to this song are all about what it's like to have handed over one's desire to live in truth and honesty for one filled with false securities. Lyrics that talk of living in 'empty bliss' and a suspended state of 'selfishness' define the Confederation of the Willing.
"Kashmir," Led Zeppelin
I envision this song played during the troops march to the square. The first lyrics are even, 'Let the sun beat down on my face...' Robert Plant said the words in this song were inspired during a caravan they took while on tour in Southern Morocco, a place he called 'the wastelands' - another interesting bit of symmetry. And what can I say about Jimmy Page? It is the ultimate 'walking to war' song.
"Landslide," Fleetwood Mac
The love Harper has for her daughter, Veracity, is what drives her. For years she'd been doing what she thought to be right until she realized that, instead of saving her daughter from the world by attempting to change it, she was ensuring that this world would be be preserved as-is to be handed down to her daughter. There are many stories about what Stevie Nicks had in mind while writing this song, but, when I hear it as applied to the relationship between Veracity and Harper, it makes perfect sense. 'I've been afraid of changing because I built my life around you.' 'But time makes you bolder...children get older...I'm getting older, too.' And, 'Can the child of my heart rise above?' To me, this song is about Harper trying to explain to Veracity why she had to make the ultimate sacrifice and is also Harper's prayer that someday, Veracity can understand.
"A Prayer for Peace," John Williams
When I think of Lazarus and his group approaching Bond square and that scene of chaos and death, I think of this hauntingly and poignant song. John Williams has found a way to acoustically express the misery and hope of moving from a state of enslavement to one of freedom.
Laura Bynum and Veracity links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
other Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)