bio shotAsk a writer what he or she listens to while they write and you will get a variety of responses. Show Tunes. Heavy Metal. A playlist that their protagonist would listen to. For many, listening to music while writing is a habit, a ritual you might say. Some claim that they can’t write without it.

I am just the opposite. I can’t write with music playing. I start humming along, and then before long I’m in front of the mirror with my air guitar and writing can wait. The only sound I want to hear when I write is my fingers slapping keys and the occasional faceless man that cheerfully announces “You’ve Got Mail”. Yes, I still have AOL. I also have an eight track player.

But regardless of whether a writer listens to music or not while they tap their keyboard, the reality is that music is very much a part of our lives and therefore, if we want our fictional characters to be believable, we might want to let them have a little music in their lives as well.

In my new novel, They Call Me Crazy, the music my protagonist listens to helps explain her character. She loves country music and her favorite band is the Eli Young Band. They have two songs that she interacts with in the novel, and those two songs play into the narrative perfectly.

While reading my final proof, I did play selections from my fantasy book playlist—Justin Moore, Garth Brooks, Eli Young Band, and several others. I felt it put me in the characters’ heads a bit more, and I was tickled with how much the music enhanced the story.

Music is an important part of our lives, and I think most writers will tell you that in some way, it elevates their story. Whether they listen while writing, incorporate certain songs into the book, or listen while reading that final proof, the relationship of music to writing is something most of us can’t deny.

How do you use music when writing? Do you listen while reading?

About Kelly Stone Gamble

Kelly Stone Gamble is the author of THEY CALL ME CRAZY. She is an instructor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Idabel, Oklahoma. You can connect with her on her website at


They Call Me Crazy

Cass Adams is crazy, and everyone in Deacon, Kansas, knows it. But when her good-for-nothing husband, Roland, goes missing, no one suspects that Cass buried him in their unfinished koi pond. Too bad he doesn’t stay there for long. Cass gets arrested on the banks of the Spring River for dumping his corpse after heavy rain partially unearths it.

The police chief wants a quick verdict—he’s running for sheriff and has no time for crazy talk. But like Roland’s corpse, secrets start to surface, and they bring more to light than anybody expected. Everyone in Cass’s life thinks they know her—her psychic grandmother, her promiscuous ex-best friend, her worm-farming brother-in-law, and maybe even her local ghost. But after years of separate silences, no one knows the whole truth. Except Roland. And he’s not talking.

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