Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Author Bites - Kim Culbertson on the Soundtrack of Life

Because Songs for a Teenage Nomad was such a kick ass book, I wanted Kim to come on and do a guest post in conjunction with my review. Which she did! Please read as Kim expounds on our never-ending background music. And be sure to fill in the blank at the end. Thanks so much for stopping by, Kim!

A Soundtrack Generation

At a book event last summer, I was surprised to see an older man show up to my panel on teen fiction. I mean, I write YA books about teen girls, so I thought, “Hmm, sixty-something guy with a sweet round face at a teen book event? Maybe he writes YA.” Turns out, this lovely gentleman, I’ll call him Ben (he just screamed to be a Ben) has a teenage granddaughter with whom he’s very close and he wanted to come check out the teen panel at this particular lit festival. We got to chatting after the event and he asked about my novel Songs for a Teenage Nomad and as I talked to him about it, he started chuckling, saying “Well, you’re spot on about the concept – you’re all such a Soundtrack Generation.”

I wasn’t offended; he was too sweet and grandfatherly. But I asked him whether music held that special something for him too? Couldn’t he hear a song and be reminded of a certain place, a certain time. Ben agreed that, sure, he could think of a certain song from time to time and it reminded him, but “for Godsakes, kid” (he called me kid a lot which I actually sort of loved), “I don’t think of it as a soundtrack that follows me around. You’re all so damn plugged in.” But he told me he’d buy my book when it came out because his granddaughter would “totally relate” and he wandered off in search of the next panel.

But Ben got me thinking. He got me thinking about whether or not this inclination toward having a soundtrack has been nurtured by so many (too many?) years of movie watching, of hearing a song swell as the credits role or the scary music just before the blonde girl is about to meet her untimely end. Perhaps this cinematic breeding of ours has made us crave our own soundtrack, almost need it to make sense of the dramatic rise and fall of our own lives. Maybe not. For Calle, the main character in my novel, it is certainly the way she fastens herself to her own history, tries to make sense of all the important bits, those lasting memories. And it’s that way for me too. I can’t hear OMD’s “If You Leave” without thinking of a special middle school dance or anything from Nirvana’s Nevermind without remembering the moody guy in the dorm room next to mine freshman year who played that CD over and over and over…1992 college freshman year on repeat.

So I think I’m okay with that Soundtrack Generation label. In fact, a really good song to play right now would be….

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