I am so excited to be part of the
Music is my go-to source of inspiration for writing ideas. I don’t listen to music while I’m writing because I’d end up singing along instead of working, but I do make playlists for every novel I’ve ever written (even the ones that never saw the light of day). I also listen to certain songs before I start my writing day to get in the right mood for the character or scene I’ll be crafting in the hours to follow.
The full playlist for My Last Kiss will be revealed on Day 11 of this blog tour on June 6th over at Lady Reader's BookStuff, but here you will get a preview of the bands that I tap into the most when I need to be inspired not only while I was writing My Last Kiss, but other not-yet-published novels as well.
Author Bethany Neal
Metric – Their song ‘Help, I'm Alive’ inspired the idea for My Last Kiss. Visit The Best Books Ever on Day 15 of this tour (release day June 10th!) to read more about how Metric inspired my debut novel.
Florence + the Machine – Atmospheric, haunting, complex lyrics. F+tM is the epitome of what I look (listen?) for in a writinspirational band.
Eisley – Her voice is so eerie, immediate, and ethereal. Also, they have a lot of songs about dying and funerals, so that helps when writing my shade of dark books.
Regina Spektor – Her lyrics always tell a story. The mood of her sound isn’t necessarily what I usually put on my playlists (it’s a little too peppy), but listening to her lyrical stories gets the cogs turning in my brain.
The Airborne Toxic Event – More lyrical stories with this one, but when Mikel Jollett writes a song it is a 3-D extrasensory experience. I saw them live last year and it was like watching the best poetry jam ever. He used to be a writer (working on a novel) and that authorly sense of scene and character development really comes through. Also, they have an amazing song about a graveyard, which is kinda my cue to love a band forever.
Armor For Sleep (their What To Do When You're Dead album) – The whole album is about a dude wandering around after he’s died. Enough said.
Movie scores – Movie scores carry you through the action and amplify the emotion of a scene. If you’ve ever watched a deleted scenes reel that was edited without music in the background, you’ll appreciate just how much a score contributes to setting the desired mood in a film. Just imagine about Voldemort storming Hogwarts with his evil band of wizards to the theme from Iron Man. Not as effective, huh?
The point is these scores are built to evoke specific emotions within specific scenes, which makes them ideal for writers, well, writing scenes. Below are some of my favs.
The Batman Dark Knight trilogy scores by Hans Zimmer. There’s an immeasurable amount of tension drawn out in a single note of these songs. Also, Bruce Wayne represents so much longing (to save Gotham, hang up the mask to be with the woman he loves, come to peace with his parents’ deaths). These scores are ripe with deep emotion.
Let the Right One In scored by Johan Soderqvist. There’s an American version of this Swedish romantic horror story between a boy and a tween vampire, but do yourself a favor and go the subtitles route.
Also, Jacob Black's theme from the Eclipse score composed by Howard Shore. It’s just so darn sad and beautiful. I use it a lot for writing death scenes.
Bethany Neal writes YA novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing from her Ann Arbor, Michigan home. The things she is obsessed with include, but are not limited to: nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, dream analysis, memorizing song lyrics, pickles, dessert, predestined love, not growing up, sour gummy candies, music videos, Halloween, and fictional boys who play guitar.
MY LAST KISS is her first novel. Connect with her online at www.bethanyneal.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @BethDazzled.
Thank you to Ms. Neal for a peek inside your writing brain! I personally love listening to Florence + the Machines and Regina Spektor and I love listening to movie scores (Leslie and I often listen to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack while we do our homework) but there are many in the list that are new to me. I will definitely check them out.
Now, my thoughts about My Last Kiss...
Publisher: FSG (BYR)
Pages: 368 pages
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?
Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss—the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died—is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.
If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made—good and bad—that led to her last kiss.
Bethany Neal’s suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.
Warning: Minor spoilers.
In My Last Kiss, Cassidy just died after someone, possibly close to her, pushed her off a covered bridge during her birthday party. The police ruled it as a drunken suicide. But Cassidy found herself still on earth--like Mia from If I Stay, except Cassidy is truly dead. She doesn't remember what happened on the night of her murder but she needed to prove that she did not commit suicide. She gets help from her boyfriend Ethan, who was the only one who could see her and touch her. But Ethan was keeping something from her and friends that she trusted might be involved in her murder too.
I liked the set up of the novel of the novel where the reader was given breadcrumbs or clues through flashbacks (not in chronological order) and the big picture comes all together slowly as more are revealed. The novel alternates between Ghost Cassidy in the present trying to figure out what happened to her and then something in the present triggers a memory and we are taken to different flashbacks significant to what led to her being pushed off the covered bridge.
My Last Kiss kept me guessing all the way to the end. Just when I thought I had it figured out, there's a new twist or a new evidence was revealed. I'm a sucker for mysteries so I loved piecing together the events and the clues along with Cassidy.
Ninety percent of the time, I was there with Cassidy. I wanted to know what happened just as badly as she did but there was that ten percent that kept me from sympathizing with Cassidy and it was the cheating. I hate cheating in books and whenever I come across it in books it just bothers me like a weed burr in my shoe.
The thing was, from the flashbacks, we learn that Cassidy's parents were not getting along and her home life was not a happily place. But instead of going to her boyfriend Ethan for comfort, she instead turned to her former friend Caleb (whose own parents were divorced). Cassidy knew she loved Ethan but that didn't stop her from sneaking off to make out with Caleb and lying about it to Ethan and her best friends.
I wanted to shake some sense into Cassidy--like, "why are you doing this Cassidy? You're ruining everything that's going well for you!" And poor Ethan. Argh!! **deep breath**
Oh, Ethan. He was the perfect YA boyfriend that only exist in books. Maybe a little too perfect. Too understanding. Too quick to forgive. Too flawless. I liked him but he was too one-dimensional in his sweetness and perfection to really make an impression and be memorable in the sea of YA love interest.
Anywho, I did enjoy Cassidy and My Last Kiss a lot. The writing was readable and I was able to finish the novel in about two days (which is fast for me). I kept reading because I had to know! I was hooked by the mystery, and despite the cheating, Cassidy was a flawed character with an interesting story. The ending was bittersweet because, you know, she's dead and cannot go back to her life but I wanted her to pull a miraculous resurrection (didn't happen--it's not that kind of story). If you want a darker, twisty mystery standalone read this summer My Last Kiss is a good one to pick up.
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