THE SONG BEHIND FALL FROM GRACE
by Charles Benoit
The first thing I do when I start writing a new book is pick a theme song. It’s not going to magically play when you open the book (I’m working on it!), but it will play in my house, in my car and in my head every day until the book is done. Just ask my neighbors.
The term “theme song” really fits since that’s my whole point of picking it. I have an idea of what I want the book to feel like, the kind of pace I want it to have, the kind of attitude it’s going to take and, yes, what Big Themes I hope to address. It’s way too much to keep in your head (my head, anyway) but it’s too important not to think about when you’re writing and all the time when you’re not writing. I pick a song that captures all those points in one easy-to-remember package.
Before I write each day, I play the theme song 5 or 6 times in a row, just to get my head in the right place. I also play the song at least once every time I get in the car, just in case I should start thinking about my book when I’m driving. Obsessive? Perhaps. Maddening? My wife says yes. But it’s my way and I’m sticking to it.
The song behind Fall From Grace is a bouncy little ska number by Skye Sweetnam (Sumo Cyco) and Tim Armstrong (Rancid and other ska/punk bands) called “Into Action.” Everything about the song captures what I wanted to put in my book—that make-your-own-fun, rule-bending, take charge, live large attitude that is never mean, but not 100% legal either. The lyrics never appear in the book, but they shaped every word I wrote, and the 2-4 ska upbeat is irresistible and infectious. Sort of like Grace, the title character. (And if you don’t know what ska is, shame on you.)
I must have listened to that song 1,000 times so far, and you know what, I still love it. In fact, I’m so crazy about it that I started a band (cleverly called Some Ska Band) just to play it in public. We even have a female singer who belts it out just the way I hear it in my head.
So here’s what you do—listen to “Into Action” a few times, then read Fall From Grace and see how close I came to getting it all in print. If you read carefully enough, you’ll spot a couple shout-outs to the artists who made it. And when you finish the book and crank up the song as loud as your speakers go, I dare you not to dance like mad. I know I do.