I enjoy weaving bits of high and low culture into my novels. In particular, I enjoy setting the story I’m writing to a musical score as I go. I did this with The Representative and repeated it in The District Manager.
The way I go by selecting what will be playing in the background of a certain scene depends on that particular scene. But in both novels I chose a genre of music that would identify with the protagonist. The leading man in The Representative is John David Dothan, a Generation X’er who is a closet poet and former cult rocker turned politician. Dothan is a complex guy and he’s also a Texan, so I broke with my genre theme from time to time, adding bits of classical, country and singer-songwriter. The soundtrack is largely punk, post-punk: roughly late seventies through early eighties rock music.
In fact I was listening to the Sex Pistols’, Never Mind the Bullocks when I thought of the concept for the novel’s front cover.
In The District Manger I went in another direction. There is no English music to speak of, only American roots rock with a predilection to the South. The name of the protagonist, ‘Mason Dixon’ says it all. And Mason has a friend, Keith, an ex-con who lives with him upon release from prison. Keith is a drug addict and guitarist who introduces Mason on to a thing called ‘Cow Punk.’ Cow Punk was the predecessor to Alt. Country. Its moniker speaks for its style. I also reference Southern Rock.
There is a scene in the book that I am most fond of, from Chapter Nine: Darkness Seals the Deal. In it, Mason returns to the vacant home of he and his late wife, Ann. While writing I was listening to Tom Petty’s Southern Accents. The title track arrived about the time Mason was pulling up to the house, and it fit like a glove. Very emotional.
The cover art concept was inspired by REM’s debut EP, Chronic Town.
Though it is not necessary to enjoy the stories’, if one should take the time to go and listen to some of the music referenced in the respective books, it might lend a certain spice to the narratives.