By Kat Morrisey, author of Slow Ride
Music plays an important in all of my writing. As my characters “speak” to me, I can often find a song that fits the emotional journey they are taking in the pages of the book and it helps in those moments I get stuck. Or frustrated. It also helps to stay in the story I am writing, instead of meandering in different (and often misleading) directions or letting “plot bunnies” for other books take hold and try to steal my focus.
But in my book, Slow Ride, music plays an even more important part. My main character, Kyla O’Grady, has a college degree in music. She can play instruments, sing (which she loves to do, but just for fun), and her dream had always been to finish her master’s degree so she could teach music to others. Unfortunately Kyla’s life took a different and terrifying direction. She made a choice to be with someone who was a chameleon, showing her one side of him in the beginning and then turning into a monster. Her dreams died with each strike of his fist or foot, and with each time she tried to escape, and failed. She almost gave up on herself, but she had a family that stood by her and did what they could, even risking their own safety, to get her out.
But just getting out of an abusive relationship wasn’t enough for Kyla. She was from a small town. Her ex was known, and liked, by many. She hated the reminders of what she saw as her failure in choosing a man to be with. Of course it wasn’t her fault. I knew that as I wrote her story. And you, the reader, will likely know that too. But often victims blame themselves until they can see that what happened to them is in no way their fault. It takes time, patience and love, and for Kyla, it took a little longer to come around to that. And when she did, she decided she needed a fresh start. And this is where Slow Ride begins. Kyla is looking for a new place to settle in. A place where she can feel safe and not be haunted by the reminders of her past. On her self imposed journey serendipity intervenes and her car breaks down outside the small town of Ashten Falls.
Ashten Falls is an interesting place and weirdly, when I began writing this story, it was the town I saw first. The stores, the abandoned warehouses, the beach, the waterfront, and then slowly, I started to see the characters and everything fell into place. And I also fell in love with both the town and its citizens. There are some eccentric folks there, friendly people, and as is the case everywhere, a few bad apples. You won’t meet everyone from Ashten Falls in this book (there are other books planned in the series) but you will meet the local mechanic, Cooper Moretto. He’s a good man, trying to run a couple businesses and keep his friends, and his town, safe. He doesn’t need any complications in his life. He has enough of those. And for him, women are complications. But on a road just inside the town’s boundaries, he comes across Kyla, and she’s singing. Her soulful voice catches his ear, and then she catches his eye, and suddenly he isn’t thinking about complications anymore.
Though Cooper’s talents lie within his hands, he his own interest in music, though for entirely different reasons. I won’t give it away here, but music and motors are the connections that bring Cooper and Kyla together. What happens from there? Well, you’ll have to read to find out. But until then, here’s some of the music that influenced the town and main characters of Slow Ride. I hope you enjoy the music as much as I did while writing.
“Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochran:
“Demons” by Imagine Dragons
“Days Like This” by Over the Rhine:
“Smile” by Uncle Kracker:
“Ice Cream” by Sarah McLaughlin:
And last, and perhaps most important, is this song from Rascal Flatts that has become a sort of theme of sorts for what Kyla finds in Ashten Falls. We can’t always erase the bad parts of our lives or the tragedy and difficulties we encounter, but we can use them to move on and move forward. It took her car breaking down for Kyla to realize that.
You may also want to check out ”Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne and “Off to the Races” by Lana Del Rey. Both are important in who Kyla is, where she’s been and where she’s going. I hope you’ve enjoyed a glimpse of the muic that helped me shape the story of Kyla and Cooper. And let me know what you think!