Behind The Book: How I Decided To Ruin A One-Hit Wonder Penned For Whitney Houston

For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing the soundtrack for Waiting For A Star To Fall, and how each song inspired or enhanced the creation of the novel.  Impatient? Full Spotify playlist is here.

The first book in the Autumn Brody series, Change Of Season, was named after a Matthew Good band song.  The reasons were two-fold:  not only did it capture the main character’s emotional state at the start of the book, but the title itself held a layered meaning for her journey.  The season at the heart of the story undergoes a change.

When I realized that I wanted to write a second book and create a series, I mulled the title for several weeks.  With only a loose plot idea to guide me, I was at a loss. I knew I wanted to name it after a song.  Beyond that…

My first approach was looking for song titles that referenced seasons, thinking I would be oh-so-clever and bind the series in that fashion.  Some of the rejected titles have been set aside for possible book three titles.  None of them seemed right for this story.

This is where the wealth of music trivia rattling in my skull came in handy.

I’d gone on a Whitney Houston run after chatting about The Bodyguard on Twitter.  This sent me down a soundtrack rabbit hole and further, into the depths of Wikipedia.  Knowing that the new book featured a stalking element, I jotted notes about characters referencing the Costner-Houston film.  Which they do, in abundance.

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Another Light Missing…

When Courtney Summers’ latest, All The Rage, was announced, there were people who actually said, “Well, why do we need another book about rape?  Didn’t Speak cover it?”

While the simplest answer should be obvious — “Surprise, we can have multiple books on a topic!” — there are many reasons why authors will continue to explore difficult subjects like rape culture and domestic violence.  Maybe, as with Summers, they have a new approach that further reveals the darkness in society.  Or maybe it’s because there is no indication that the number of sexual assaults is on a dramatic decline.

When I wrote Change of Season, it was for many reasons, but one of them was to pay tribute to a beautiful soul, a woman whose life ended far too soon.   A light missing from the sky.  The missing teens of Change of Season are written as a sort of kaleidoscopic spin on the many ways a young woman can end up like her.  Autumn herself is yet another.

Recently, we lost another light.  The story of Desiree Gallagher has haunted me since my sister, a friend of hers, shared it with me.  A kind young woman pursuing her academic dreams, she met a man, as so many people do every weekend.  That meeting would end with her plunging off his balcony, battered and beaten beyond recognition.  Miraculously surviving, Desiree was left blind, robbed of short-term memory and unable to walk.

Two years later, Desiree is no longer with us.  But her wish to help other women by sharing her story has brought me here, to share it with you.

I wish hers was the only story to tell, that it was an anomaly, that the world is a safe and beautiful place for women.  But hearing a story like hers can move another to be careful.  Hearing it may inspire another to choose a future career that helps survivors of violence.  Another may find strength to leave a bad relationship, or help her spot the signs a friend may be in danger.  Still others may sit back and think, “Enough is enough.  How can we, as a society, better protect each other?”

Each ripple in the stream matters.  Each carries a promise with it.

This is why authors are still exploring these topics.  Because the status quo is still a world where abuse, rape and violence happen.  Because each new ripple may just be the one that makes a change.  Because our collective words may just be the promise that gets someone through today, this hour, even just a minute.

Each book is a lit candle, in memory of the reader who knows its truth personally.  It’s how we keep the lights from going out altogether.