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When You Need to Set the Tone, Get the Right Tune

April 4, 2016

NICOLE LOUGHANToday, I’m pleased to welcome Nicole Loughan to Birth of a Novel. Nicole is an award-winning journalist and a talented fiction writer who loves mysteries. Her favorite female sleuths were dreamed up by Charlaine Harris and Janet Evanovich. She also draws inspiration from the classics such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe, an inspiration that is evident in her books.

Okay … that’s enough from me. Let’s hear from Nicole how she sets the tone for her writing.

Sometimes, I need something to get me in the mood for writing. I have gone so far as to light candles and dim the lights when I need to write a romantic scene. Though, what helps me more than anything to set the tone of my book is a little mood music.

What I listen to depends on the story that I’m writing. For my newest book, Divine Hotel, DIVINE HOTELset in the 1960s the mood was light. I wanted to convey a feeling of excitement as my characters stepped back through time. I kept finding myself listening to old swing music or big band classics. I am especially feeling the song “You’ve got to Accentuate the Positive” by Johnny Mercer, which happens to have a tie in to the book. Accentuate the Positive was said to be inspired by the real Father Divine. A fictionalized version of him plays a role in the new book. Father Divine was the Leader of the Peace Mission Movement and his powerful sermons play a role in pop culture with many artists saying they drew inspiration from him.

When I listened to Accenutate the Positive, I tried to feel what Johnny Mercer felt when he heard Divine Speak, Divine was said to have other worldly charisma. The song always put a smile on my face.

While writing the Saints Mystery Series, Dark mysteries set in the Bayous of Southern Louisiana I listened to a lot of Creedence Clearwater Revival, songs like “Born on the Bayou” or “Bad Moon Rising.”Creedance Clearwater

The vernacular from the songs ends up in my story, such as when the lead singer of CCR sang about Hoodoo, rather than Voodoo, I never knew there was a difference but after hearing that line several times I looked up Hoodoo, and decided one of my characters Beau would always mistakenly refer to Voodoo as Hoodoo.

The other group I listened to while writing Saints was Modest Mouse especially “The Devil’s Workday” It has a heavy Jazz influence, with a lot of horn. It reminded me of my visits to Louisiana. I listened to it on repeat when I wrote the final scene of All Saints’ Secrets. I highly recommend reading it with that on in the background to see if you got the same feeling from the music that I did.

The next chapter in the Divine Series will visit another point in time and I will find something completely different to listen too, right now I’m feeling some depression era jazz is in order.

Nicole, thanks so much for visiting and sharing your inspiration with us.

Readers, if you’d like to know more about Nicole Loughan, you can visit her website –

Here’s a link to her newest book, Divine Hotel –

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2016 1:36 PM

    Great idea to set the mood while writing! I often have Pandora playing softly while I write, usually new age instrumental stuff. I’m going to be more conscious of what music I choose. Who knows what will come up?

  2. April 4, 2016 3:23 PM

    Thanks for stopping by, Linda. I don’t list to music while I’m writing. I’m afraid it would just distract me, but maybe I should give it a try. I can certainly understand how music could help create an appropriate mood.

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