September 9, 2010

Guest Post: Kim Culbertson (Songs for a Teenage Nomad)

Today we have a special treat! Kim Culbertson, author of Songs for a Teenage Nomad, has dropped by to talk about music and memory. Also, check out my review of Songs for a Teenage Nomad.

First of all, I just wanted to thank Kate for hosting me at her blog to chat about my first YA novel Songs for a Teenage Nomad. What a great blog name – I love to “sit here and read” whenever I get a chance!

So today I want to talk about music and memory.

Music plays a key role in my novel, especially the way music begins to build in a life until you have your own playlist following you around. Music and memory. Each of us has a soundtrack – we are our own Jukebox Time Machines. Those shiny old boxes that used to be in pizza parlors – the ones with the buttons and the name of the song and the band. For me, hit Hall and Oates “Private Eyes” – third grade pizza party. The Beach Boys “Surfer Girl” – long car trips with my parents and sister (we’re Californians through and through). Any song from the Grease soundtrack – sixth grade slumber party. Or OMD’s “If You Leave” – eighth grade dance. “Losing My Religion” R.E.M – high school heartbreak. The list goes on and on. All I have to do is hear it and the button’s hit, the memory floods me.

For Calle, my teenage nomad, music roots her to a past that has no ties. She has been in 14 schools in eight years, moving around with a mother who makes over their lives as often as most people change the water filter. Calle holds her playlist close to her heart, keeping track of it in her song journal, trying to make sense of their drifting life.

A lot of people ask me how I came up with the songs that Calle listens to in the book. Some of them are songs I really love. I also had input from my students (I’m a high school teacher) and other songs were just playing on the radio at the time I was writing. Mostly, though, the specific songs themselves aren’t as key as the idea that a personal playlist is just that – personal. Sure, there will be overlap and sometimes you’ll find people who have really similar playlists, but mostly each of us has a singular, specific group of songs that can never be replicated – it’s like our own musical DNA.

What about you, reader? What’s a song from your personal playlist – your musical memories? Feel free to post below in the comments and let us know.

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