Sunday, 3 October 2010

Guest Post: Kim Culbertson - Songs for a Teenage Nomad

Hi everyone! As promised here's the guest post from the lovely Kim Culbertson, about how music plays a role in her writing. She's the author of Songs for a Teenage Nomad, which I reviewed yesterday. If you're a music fan make sure you check it out!

Music reminds me.

When I hear OMD’s “If You Leave” suddenly I’m back at that eighth grade dance - the one where the brown-eyed boy asked me to dance, the one where I wore the lime green Bongo mini-skirt (I’m noticing these skirts seem to be making their way back from the eighties all of a sudden!). Or if it’s Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” I’m back in my high school gym, gearing up for another basketball game, my shoes squeaking on the slick gym floor. Or if it’s the Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes,” I’m at a college party, awkwardly making my way through the throng of bodies in the dim living room of someone’s off-campus house. Or Jack Johnson’s On and On CD – then I’m holding my tiny daughter in my arms six years ago, rocking her in a slant of afternoon light.

Music reminds me.

Music reminding me became the basis for Calle’s story in my novel Songs for a Teenage Nomad. Some people collect baseball cards or stamps or stickers – Calle collects songs. They remind her. She has been in 14 schools in eight years and 12 different cities. Music is her constant. It’s the roadmap of her past.

I think we all have a soundtrack, that personal playlist that accumulates as we go through life. And it lets us remember in a visceral, immediate way.

I love to listen to music when I write and I tend to lean on two sources: Pandora and my dear friend Kirsten. With Pandora, I have all my favorites: Ani DiFranco, Bob Dylan, Ingrid Michaelson, Ben Lee, Counting Crows, Jack Johnson, Paul Simon, Joshua Radin, Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, to name a few. I’m a singer-songwriter type of girl.

My friend Kirsten gives me a new mix every few months, usually indie stuff that she finds and compiles for me and I just listen over and over and over. Sometimes, I hear stuff that inspires me, a tune or a line or a theme. Mostly, though, I just like the way it moves through me while I write, the way it provides a gentle pulse. Now, I have songs that I hear, and I remember my fingers flying across the keys as I typed away on a book.

That’s the great thing about music. It always reminds me.


Thanks Kim! Now, what do you guys think about music in books and, if you write yourselves, do you listen to music when you write? What kind of thing do you listen to?


  1. Congratulation for you site!Beautiful!
    Enter at Bob Dylan Official Blog for fans
    and leave a link to your blog for sending people to this article.

  2. I love books that have that musical undertone. This book is definately on my To-Read list, and the books I always think of when I think of music are Robin Benway's. She's great.
    I listen to music all of the time, except when I write. I need silence. But there's music inside of me.


Thank you kindly for the comment, you sweet thing.