Author Anna Jarzab provides a list of songs and novels that inspired Tandem, the first installment in the Many-Worlds Trilogy.
by Kanye West This song first inspired the character of Thomas. There
was a time, early in the writing of Tandem,
when Thomas was less idealistic and more approving of the General’s
methods. He was always a hero, but back when I was first working on Tandem, it took him longer to get
Walls” by T.I. featuring Christina Aguilera This is a Juliana song, for
reasons that are pretty self-explanatory. The idea of having a perfect
life from the view of an outsider, but being so lonely and afraid inside
and not having anyone who understands, are really relevant to her life.
People often think of Juliana as a villain, but there’s a reason why we
get her POV in Tandem—she’s a
main character of the story, and she’s on her own journey. She’s got a lot
to learn, but I think she’s more sympathetic than she seems.
the Pain” by Brand X Music I listen to a lot of instrumental music when
writing books in the Many-Worlds series. A lot. It helps me when I’m
writing action scenes especially. This is probably my favorite of the
instrumentals I listened to over and over when writing Tandem, although “Spawn,” also by
Brand X, was often on repeat as well.
by Two Steps From Hell Another instrumental, which I listened to
especially when I was working on the “Thomas in the Rambles” chapter; I
imagine that this is what “Revolution,” the first piece the Columbia City
Orchestra plays, sounds like.
Going the Distance” by Cake I wrote about five different drafts of Tandem before the final one, and in
each Thomas evolved, probably more than any other character. This song
reminds me of Thomas as he is in the book now.
Slope” by The DØ This is one of those songs that I cannot explain,
either why it’s on the soundtrack for Tandem
or even what it means in general. It’s an odd song, but I listened to it
all the time when I was writing Tandem.
I think it has a disorienting, Alice
in Wonderland quality to it that is at least thematically relevant to Tandem.
Me What I’m Looking For” by Carolina Liar This is a Thomas/Sasha love
song. What was always so interesting to me about Thomas and Sasha’s
romance is that it seems both wholly obvious that they would have a
connection, and also comes as a surprise to both of them. They’re confused
by it, and by the feelings of trust they share in each other, and
ironically the only person who they can talk to about it is the very
person who confuses them—each other. This song kind of speaks to that.
Home” by Diddy & Skylar Grey I listened to this song constantly while writing Tandem, but especially around the
end; I imagine it playing as Sasha picks herself up of the ground at the
end of the book and starts the long trek home.
by B.o.B. (ft. Hayley Williams) This song reminds me a lot of Sasha,
stranded in Aurora, wishing for home but also falling in love with Thomas
and not knowing what’s going to happen to her.
“Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele Another Thomas/Sasha
love song, especially toward the end of the book, when they both make choices
that change the landscape of their lives and usher in a period of uncertainty
The Odyssey (transl. Robert Fagles) Even
though it's an epic poem, it's got the intensity and a lot of the immediacy of
a novel, and the characters feel so incredibly real and sympathetic. In many
ways, Sasha's story in Tandem is a hero's journey, and the two stories share a
lot of the same themes--lies and deceit, questions about identity and fate vs.
free will, pride and loyalty. I even went so far as to put The Odyssey right
into Tandem--Sasha reads aloud from it several times to the king while
pretending to be Juliana.
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare I remember my
first encounter with Twelfth Night so vividly; I saw it on stage, performed by
people at my high school, and I just thought it was the most romantic story
ever. Now, having read it several times and seen it performed a few more, I
understand its complexity and its humor a little better, but I still think of
Viola as one of Shakespeare's most passionate characters--I mean, when she
calls herself a "poor monster" for being in love with Orsino, who she
thinks is in love with someone else, it's heartbreaking! I drew a lot of
inspiration from Viola when discovering who Sasha was, and it makes sense to me
that the play would resonate with her also. I would never compare myself to
Shakespeare, but the way Tandem plays with the ideas of disguise and identity
was definitely influenced by this play.
The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas There aren't a ton
of authors who I obsessively follow, waiting for a new book to come out, but
Scarlett Thomas is one of them, and The End of Mr. Y is my favorite of her
books. It manages to grapple with abstract philosophical and metaphysical
concepts in an incredibly entertaining way, and while I wouldn't say it
directly influenced Tandem, it certainly affected the way I think and got me
interested in some of the subjects that led me to writing about parallel
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle I don't think you'll
find a YA author out there who wasn't influenced by this classic. Meg is such a
great female character--she's flawed and brave and full of love for her family.
You empathize with her instantly precisely because she isn't perfect, and I
hope that I've been able to create a similar character in Sasha.
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge I didn't
realize until I started trying to put this list together just how many of my
favorite novels are about bored or uncertain young girls being drawn into
worlds unlike their own and discovering strength, bravery and depth they didn't
know they possessed. Maria reminds me of Juliana--a little
selfish, a little cowardly, but she has a lot of potential. Also, the way
Goudge uses precise detail to immediately bring characters to life is