Posted by Lisa
Parts of New York City are similar to Montreal. Last weekend, the area near my hotel (the Hilton on 53rd Street) reminded me so much of the city where I grew up. Nothing in New York is the same as Montreal’s Old Port or the McGill Student Ghetto with their signature walk-up apartments with balconies. But some busy streets remind me of Crescent Street or Ste. Catherines. The chi-chi shops, the cave-like restaurant hideaways. And the idea, indeed much of the plot to some future novel came to me. With it came memories: the smell of a Montreal metro – not unpleasant, but distinct, the icy blue of the Montreal sky in winter.
One of my characters in this imagined novel lives in rural Quebec. Having spent my teen years growing up in such a place, I know there’s a ‘feel’ to it, and French Canadian Folk Music brings it all back to me. I HATE to try to describe its sound as I won’t do it justice. It is fiddles and foot stomping and joie de vivre. It is midnight feasts on Christmas Eve. Spring parties with sap running and maple syrup bubbling and burning. It has the quickest beat.
In Sherry Ellis’s book, Now Write, novelist and Grub Street Creative Director, Christopher Castellani, describes an approach to writing wherein he listens to the music of the era: “It’s a quick and powerful path to the empathy you are always striving for as a writer. You imagine yourself as a character responding to the lyrics or the emotion of the music.”
Hear the music in Christopher’s prose (from A Kiss from Maddelena):
“Vito scanned the crowd: the girls in their sundresses rubbing their arms, the men counting and pooling their bills, Maddelena in a pack with Carolina and Ada and Fiorella. Her hair, unpinned and freed from the hat, lifted and fell onto her bare shoulders as she talked.”
As I work on my contemporary novel, set in New Hampshire, you can imagine the radio stations Rose, my protagonist, must endure as a passenger in her dad’s car. (Poor thing, she can’t afford an IPod). It’s unreal, to me, the power of music when I write. It takes me there, where I need to be.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Posted by Lisa