Every couple has a song.
Maybe it’s the song they first danced to. Maybe it’s a song they bonded over while talking at a party. Maybe it’s not romantic, but a fun in-joke shared between lovers. Maybe they had to find something to dance to at their wedding and finally connected with this particular tune. But don’t let them lie to you. Every couple has a song.
(For randomness, my song with my husband is Muse’s “Resistance”. We had a bit of a hidden love affair when we met, due to working together. And yes, we danced to it at our wedding, albeit an instrumental piano rendition.)
For two characters brought together by music, there were so many choices. In Change Of Season, Andrew shoves aside his anxiety and sings a song meant as a love note to Autumn at a talent show. They share a moment of quiet contentment and significance to another song. These two, if I let them, would make each other mix tapes. Among my writing playlists, I have a mix that contains every single song that reminds me of their relationship, or songs that frame their ups and downs.
How do you choose one song? If you breathe melody like I do, and you listen to your characters, it chooses itself.
Autumn’s favourite artist is Andrew McMahon and his many monikers, including Jack’s Mannequin. It leads to a few soft giggles between the couple, given that she’s found an Andrew of her very own. Many of his songs featured in the Change Of Season playlist, including a song called “Casting Lines”. I really liked it — I’m a sucker for a piano ballad with oomph and heart — but I didn’t fall head over heels for it until I wrote this scene in the first book of the series as it shuffled up on iTunes:
“I’m not angry,” she repeated emphatically. “I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused you with my distance. I regret every moment of sadness you’ve experienced because of me.”
“Autumn, it’s okay–”
“It’s not.” She shook her head sadly. “It’s not. But it’s not all my fault. That I do understand.”
Andrew edged forward tentatively, studying her. What knowledge did he seek? She would answer him almost anything.
“I don’t want to talk about what happened. Not yet,” she added. “I don’t know how long the whole process will take. I don’t know a lot of things right now.” Tucking the paper back in her pocket, she continued. “I do know that you are beautiful. Patient. Safe. That I fell asleep in your company. That you protect me when people who remind me of people I long to forget are around. That you make me laugh. What I need to know… is whether you can accept all of this in one complicated, girl-shaped package.”
Her body tensed, eyes slamming shut. Please tell me I understand him. Her cards were thrown on the table. All in.
His hand found hers, fingers interlacing. “I already do.”
A sob ripped from her throat, and he whispered her name, promised she was okay. She wasn’t – but she was safe. For now.
“Can I hug you?”
She fell into his arms, inhaling his scent – gingerbread and fireplace embers. Warmth.
“I’m so scared,” she confessed.
His hand was in her hair, gently toying with her curls. It reminded her of her mother and watching movies together when she was small. She sighed into his chest, forcing herself to breathe. In and out. In and out. His arms were sturdy, but not tight. Supportive. Home.
It was then I knew I’d found it: their song. Because for these two — an orphaned teen whose aunt rejected him at his darkest hour and a woman denying herself all love and comfort to keep her own family safe — the themes of connection and home seemed fitting.
If you’re reading Waiting For A Star To Fall, cue this song up when you reach the Shakespeare garden. In my head — in my heart — Andrew McMahon is playing this on a piano in the background.
And who are we to argue fate? And who is time to make us wait?
I’m standing here with nothing left to prove
And we’re still coming home, a thread through the unknown
Yeah, all the lines we cast into forever
Got tangled like some wreckage in the road
A road we walked alone
But all the time that’s passed held us together
And all the lines we cast will bring us home…