Romance author Lynne Connolly discusses how her love of music inspires her writing.
Just to warn you—I am the person, who, on seeing a stout, unprepossessing individual walk onto the stage at the recent Glastonbury performance of the Rolling Stones, screamed at the TV screen (that’s right, I wasn’t even there), “It's effing Mick Taylor!” (only I didn’t say “effing,” if you know what I mean). My mother was not impressed. Then I proceeded to sob my way through Midnight Rambler. I have had such good times to that track!
I’ve always loved music. I write to it, I’ve seen more bands and orchestras than I can count, and at one time I had a closer relationship to it. I’m a music fan and always will be.
In my heady past, I dated a roadie. He had his own team, his own vans and he employed experts such as sound and lighting engineers. I got to see what goes on backstage and meet some of the musicians. I saw a lot, experienced a lot. Robert Plant has handed me a beer, I made a cup of tea for Alice Cooper, and beat Peter Gabriel at poker. They say “write what you know”, so I did.
Except, in my first rock band series Pure Wildfire, I made the band shapeshifting firebirds. I’ve never met any of those, but the way some guitarists rip up the stage, I could easily make the imaginative shift. Pure Wildfire features the kind of band that was straight-up rock. Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, a touch of Metallica. All bands that feature strongly in the playlists I set up when I write a book. I have one for each book, each character reflected in music.
Jimmy Page said he only learned the guitar to get the girls. That kind of statement gets a romance writer thinking!
When I came to write my second rock star romance series Nightstar, I took a different direction. Every song, every track that I love has a heart of pure truth, and a melody that is so distinctive I’ve never forgotten it. It’s why Stairway to Heaven remains a perennial favourite, and why Radiohead is so popular, despite receiving little media attention compared to their admirers Coldplay and Muse. And why they continue to pack stadiums all over the world.
Listen to Pyramid Song, How to Disappear and Give up the Ghost. Wrenchingly beautiful songs. Thom Yorke, who writes the songs, is a brave man. He opens his heart and soul onstage, and lets everybody take a look. He connects absolutely. I wanted to do that in my books, open up the soul of a musician.
Murder City Ravens of the Nightstar series is a very different band from Pure Wildfire—apart from being human beings, not shapeshifters! The members are braver, more experimental, and ready to expose their vulnerabilities in the name of their art. Although each member of the band is an individual, created out of my own imagination, they hold elements of the musicians I’ve been privileged to meet over the years. From the heroine of the first book, Violet, the Chicagoan who hooks up with burned-out Matt, to the hero of the last, Riku, the American-Japanese who has a penchant for visual kei, they have secrets and deep-felt emotions that they lavish on their music, and eventually on the partners they meet. Not that the partners don’t have their own problems. Because although the stories are played out on the rock stage, underneath, everyone has a story to tell.
They do it through music. I do it with words.
Interested in romance? Sign up for Romance Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in romance each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from authors.