Since this year’s summer reading slogan is Libraries Rock, yesterday I wrote a post about what happened when I asked my rock musician friends how reading and libraries influenced their lives and careers. To further explore the connection between reading and music, I asked some writers and illustrators to share their thoughts on the summer reading slogan “Libraries Rock.”
I LOVED the library when I was a kid. I especially looked forward to the summer reading program because they would occasionally give out new books as prizes!
The musical influence is obvious in The First Rule of Punk because music is such an important piece of the protagonist’s identity . . . Music, as well as images and other things that get your senses working, help inspire when I’m writing.
The music that inspires me to write depends on what I’m working on. For The First Rule of Punk, I listened to a lot of old punk music, lots of Lola Beltran, and of course, some Richie Valens and Mexican American punk bands.
“I have always created at the beat of music. My connection to certain musicians is vital, and what I love the most is music created by the regional musicians of my state, Veracruz. The rhythm is called Son Jarocho. Actually every time I make a book a series of songs become significant to me as I create. For my book Viva Frida I actually wrote a song along with my Friend Miguel Martinez and with the participation of several musician friends from the Latino and Mexican community.”
“Music is very important to me in the writing and illustrating process of creating a book! When I’m writing I like bird song in the background (towhees and titmice are good)… but if I’m tired of writing and it seems like the words are going nowhere then it’s time for drawing or painting. Depending on where I am with a project I’ll put on music that fits: if I’m putting together thoughts about layout or something that takes a little more brain power I’ll listen to opera (Faust! Curlew River! Tosca!). If I’m sketching out characters, or if all the preliminaries are done and I can just paint without too much thinking, out comes the Joni Mitchell or Janis Joplin or Sarah Vaughan or Laura Nyro! And of course I sing along.”
“I’ve been thinking about what rock music and books have in common, and I think what strikes a chord with me is how both, when done well, contain subversive truths, ideas, or themes wrapped in a public-friendly, authority-pleasing veneer. That aside, rock is the Yin to reading’s Yang. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m listening to music. Each reinforces the other.”
“Music inspires me in so many ways. I’m inspired by the poetry of lyrics, the stories underlying many songs, and the struggles of people who write and perform music. While writing books on Maria Anna Mozart, Wolfgang’s musical sister, and about the invention of the piano, I listen to all kinds of music as inspiration. I even noodle around in the electric guitar!”
“As a young boy, I would ride my bike to the Adams Library in my hometown of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. I would do my homework, but after I would wander the library and explore. Unlike school, I was able to wander wherever my curiosity took me. I was a ‘free-range chicken.’ Eventually, I discovered the music room on the top floor. It was packed with vinyl records. They had little booths with record players and head sets. I listened to a spectrum of music: David Bowie, Anthony Newley, Godspell. I then discovered jazz. Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, among others. Something clicked for me. The idea of jazz felt like how my brain worked. It zigged and zagged, but with purpose. It was full of surprises and was inspired by a spirit, a force. It was off-script and powered by the heart. It felt rebellious and adventurous. It broke free from convention. It was about authenticity and originality. Being an original fascinated me, perhaps more so because I was born an identical twin. This music was foundational for my way of thinking, drawing, writing and expressing. Rock and Roll, rooted in the blues and jazz, was a modern extension of that rebel spirit.”
“I became a writer because of my love of music . . . I set off for a career in music writing in New York City working at Billboard and Rolling Stone. I later segued into a second career writing about media and politics. But if it weren’t for music, I never would’ve been inspired to write.”
Be sure to check yesterday’s blog post for comments from a variety of musicians about how books influenced their musical life. And if you are an author, let us know in the comments how music influenced you in your life as a writer.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
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