After living in twelve places in eight years with her drifting mother, fourteen-year-old Calle Smith finds herself in Andreas Bay, California, at the start of ninth grade. Fearful of putting down roots anywhere, but armed with her song journal, she moves to her own sound track through a world that bounces her between the school drama crowd, a mysterious loner, and an unlikely boy who will become her first love. But it's the troubling truth she uncovers about her father that forces Calle to face the toughest choice of her young life.Doesn't that sound like an awesome read? And now without further ado... Take it away, Kim!
The other day I was sitting in a café with my friend and a Natalie Merchant song came on, an old one back from her 10,000 Maniacs days. I was saying something to my friend at the time and I stopped, the song suddenly vaulting me back to my college dorm room when I would stay up all hours of the night writing papers and letting Natalie’s rich voice fill the room.
Each person has a playlist. Music, for me, and for Calle, the main character in my young adult novel Songs for a Teenage Nomad, is like an audio scrapbook. There are so many songs in my life that act as snapshots for a point in my past. Sometimes, the memories are personal, special: I know that even though she’s now six years old, every time I hear a song from Jack Johnson’s On and On CD, I can feel the weight of my daughter’s baby-self in my arms. That CD got me (and her!) through many a long afternoon when she just didn’t really want to nap. Sometimes, though, the song memory is just about something random that makes me smile: When I hear the song “Feel Like A Woman” by Shania Twain come on a radio, I get a twitchy smile because I remember my friend Paul acting like a goofball and dancing around to it at the county fair.
Music – not so much specific songs but that great whole of it – is a unifying experience because we all have songs that remind us of something or take us back to a place or a moment. My students often times argue about bands and music, which is fine –they’re teenagers, they’re supposed to argue about which bands suck and which bands don’t – but I often like to chat with them about why it doesn’t really matter what the music is, it’s the fact that the music makes them argue in the first place that matters, that it evokes something in them so powerful that they form diverse, visceral responses to it. I love that about music. We all have different musical tastes, but the love of music seems universal, the way it gets under our skin. I’ve never met someone who has said “I hate all music. No music for me ever!”
Books are like that for me too – they have gotten under my skin and built a residence – which is probably why music ended up playing such an important role in my first novel. As a writer, I want to tap into that unifying love of words and of the memories songs bring and how the two of them together help define a young life.
Fantastic post, Kim! I know the whole Dashboard Confessional album A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar takes me back to my freshman year in college. What about you? Is there a song that takes you back to a certain time in your life or evokes a memory?