Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Books with Soundtracks

Last Sunday our TWC chat guest author was Catherine Asaro. She brought with her a musician named Donald Wolcott. Why? Because her latest book, Diamond Star has a soundtrack which goes with it. Yes, Cathrine sings on the CD accompanied by a group called Point Valid. Both the book and CD are available now.

Music and reading have been paired together in the past:

J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were later put to musical scores. A project called "Sine Fiction" created soundtracks to novels by Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. However, in all these cases the music was done years after the books saw popularity.

Kids books often come with tapes to read along or sing along. It seems natural for adults to want the same, yet we don’t often take on such creative projects.
Here’s a few I found:

More recently, Ursula K. LeGuin’s1985 novel Always Coming Home originally came in a box set: a paperback with an audiocassette entitled Music and Poetry of the Kesh, featuring three performances of poetry, and ten musical compositions by Todd Barton.

In comics, Daniel Clowes' graphic novel Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron had an official soundtrack album. The 10 track CD was released on the Jenkins-Peabody label. Here’s a blog with a Hensley interview about this graphic novel and its music:

Now on the flip side, rock band ShowBread just released two albums, one called Anorexia and one called Nervosa. (Each album is about a sister.) Instead of lyrics in the booklets, there are short stories. You listen to the album while you read the stories and there's small time marks to tell you where in the music you should be.

So many writers create their own soundtracks to write by. I do. The songs all have a theme in their sound and lyrics which reflect the mood and characters of the book I’m writing. It seems strange to me that more books and music have not been packaged together. Heck, many of the book stores carry both so why not together? That’s much more of an experience for the reader/listener than either medium on its own. I look forward to seeing more.

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At 9:56 PM, Blogger Edward Ecklund said...

I love the idea too. In fact, that is what got me interested in "Diamond Star" and Catherine Asaro. A few thoughts on the subject are in my review on Goodreads at

Gee, I wish I'd seen your blog back then. I'd googled "books with soundtracks" and didn't find much, there was more to be found using the new Microsoft search engine Bing. Now your site comes up! Yay!

I was contemplating doing a website or blog with "books with soundtracks" as its theme, but realized, partially due to sites like your's, that there were lots of actual literary types on the web who could do a better job. Maybe if I started, I'd get some help . . .

Did you know that ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith was doing "books with soundtracks" years ago?

Got to write Audrey next about a prize from the show . . .

Bye now,
Edward Ecklund

At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joseph Mattson's "Empty the Sun" has a soundtrack by Six Organs of Admittance. The limited edition even has a vinyl LP.


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