Monday, February 23, 2015

The Unofficial Soundtrack for THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS

¡Encantada! I’m Anna-Marie McLemore, author of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a YA magical realism novel coming September 15, 2015 from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. Here’s a little about the story:

The Palomas and the Corbeaus have long been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find. 



Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS is a story of the tension between two families, the meeting of two different cultures, and the draw between a boy and a girl who’ve been raised not to go near each other. 


For my first Fall Fifteeners post, I’m taking a cue from fellow Fall Fifteener Alexandra Sirowy and her post earlier this month about her favorite tracks for her debut THE CREEPING. In the spirit of unofficial book soundtracks, here are a few songs I kept coming back to while writing THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS:

“City of Refuge” – Abigail Washburn
Much in the way Lace Paloma’s view of where she comes from—and the mermaid show she’s longed for years to join—slowly breaks down, this song starts out as a portrait of a happy, polished family but gradually descends into something darker.

“O Valencia!” – The Decemberists
Fellow Fall Fifteener Mackenzi Lee suggested this one, and I can see why. Enemy families. Forbidden love. Brothers and sisters who might turn on you. And the whole thing potentially ending in bloodshed. 

“The Way It Will Be” – Gillian Welch
There’s so much wisdom, regret, and apprehension in this song. In my playlist for FEATHERS, it came to stand for the older Palomas and Corbeaus warning the younger ones about the danger the feud puts them all in, knowing they won’t be heard, but trying anyway.

“Boys in the Trees” – Carly Simon
If there’s a better song about the space between being a girl and becoming a woman, I don’t know it. While writing FEATHERS, it also helped me get into Lace’s feeling of being caught between the fears she learned as a child, and her fascination with Cluck and the lives of the Corbeau performers.

“Old Adam” – Hem
Underneath its peaceful sound, this song hints at the discord between fathers and sons; it perfectly encompasses the feeling of the intergenerational conflicts between the Corbeau men.

“Colors” – Amos Lee
Sad, but hopeful, this song is full of that sense of being in a low place, but having an idea of where to go next. A good kind of giving up, and the willingness to try again.

“Fall Apart Again” – Brandi Carlile
A song about being there for someone who doesn’t have anyone else rings true for Lace and Cluck, but it doesn’t stop with them. As brutal as the Palomas and the Corbeaus can be with both their enemies and their own, they also show each other compassion at unexpected moments.

“Reasons Why” and “Speak” – Nickel Creek
In a few minutes, this pair of songs always got me into that tentative place of Cluck and Lace almost but not-quite-yet falling for each other. She’s hiding a secret she feels deeply guilty about, and he’s hesitant about his feelings for her.

“Firefly” – Over the Rhine
This song has an edgy intensity that’s equal parts passionate and vindictive. It could just as easily be about falling in love as being out for blood. And it has that sense of the ethereal and the dangerous inherent in both families’ shows.

Any favorite songs for the writing process? I’d love to hear about them, and what they’re helping you work on. Come say hello.

Anna-Marie McLemore writes from her Mexican-American heritage, and her love both for cultures she grew up in and others she’s learned about along the way. Among her favorite things are fall leaves, Irish dancing, and lesser-known fairy tales. Her YA debut is THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a magical realism story of traveling shows, girls who can make anyone believe in mermaids, and tightrope-walkers who wear wings.

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