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Soundtrack to a Mystery

I was listening to a playlist from "Lindy 4" the other day and remembered long ago I'd promised to talk about the soundtracks that has accompanied writing the series. It's not mind-bending journalism by any stretch of the imagination, but if you're a fan of the series, it's at least neat tid-bits and facts to know where an author's brain goes when she listens to songs.

Going back to the beginning: Caskets & Conspiracies

I knew I wanted Lindy to have a certain feel about her, vulnerable, and yet tough. It's a hard bill to fill. That first scene in the bar, I struggled for a bit getting her just right. It's hard getting to know someone who only exists in your head. I never planned to have Ryder be a big part of anything. This was never supposed to be a romance. I figured it would be more like Sue Grafton's series, hard-boiled detective novels with an occasional love interest who didn't work out. Then... I heard "Lonely Eyes" by Chris Young, and for the first time I saw Lindy through Ryder's eyes. He saw something in her before she recognized it in herself.

That's not to say they had a smooth path after that. Not by any means. In fact, Lindy proved to be a bit of a pain. "Hard to love", but Lee Brice, captured that.

That final scene, that final decision, if I had a choice, this is the song that would play, "The highway don't care" by Tim McGraw.

We've got tough... let us see her human-Saddles & Sabotage

Contrary to popular believe among the readers who think I'm just out to break your heart... "Saddles" was a hard book for me to write. I knew I wanted to strip Lindy down to her lowest point of survival. That meant full betrayal. The quote in it sits on my wall, "All my weaknesses had built me into a fortress". Funny how many times my characters have saved me in real life with their words. It's out of our weakest moments that we find our deepest wells of strength.

Her dance with Dallas at Rockin B... I always imagined it happening to "Make me lose my mind" by Brett Eldridge. It's a quick two-step masterpiece. Easy to hear the beat and count out the slow slow quick quick pattern of a Texas Two-Step. It also has some great foreshadowing. I imagine lots of turns and a couple dips since Dallas was an experienced dancer and naturally charismatic. I listen to it and can feel Ryder's jealousy burning from the sidelines.

Right after the fast song, a slower song comes on. I imagined the most poignant song to be playing at that point would be "When I was your man" by Bruno Mars.

From this point Lindy became a bit of a ghost in Ryder's life. Reading Ryder's diaries helps to see it, but for me while I was writing it, nothing really helped me see it like , "I see you" by Luke Bryan. That desperate to get over her feeling. That can't get away, I only want you. We see it again in book five, but with a greater confusion over why he can't let go.

The biggest breakthrough moment came for me when I heard the song, "That don't sound like you" by Lee Brice. I don't think I'll ever forget it. I was sitting at a red light thinking about the book and how stuck I'd become. This song came on, and the images of scenes flooded into my mind. I started crying knowing what I was about to put my most loved character through. I almost didn't, but this opened up the third, and the third opened the growth for the fourth, and I can't wait for you to read the fifth. And it started with that song.

Clutches of a Cult- Sparrows & Sacrifice

It was about this time that Sam Hunt's song, "Break up in a small town" came out. It was exactly the feel I wanted for the start of the book. From that first moment Ryder went to Lindy's house and ran into her mom (Ryder's Diaries) or Lindy ran into Ryder at the mall with Vanessa, Ferndale and Bellingham are only so big. The song has that tortured, I still want to be with you, feeling I wanted in the book. When so many forces are conspiring to keep them apart, what they really want is to be together. What they lack is communication and time. Taking the case at Eden's Haven gives them both, but with a dose of danger neither one of them expected.

With Lindy back in town again and back in his life again, if even from a distance, Ryder finds himself caught between two women. I had "Stay a little longer" by Brothers Osborne playing on repeat until my family banned it-- possibly forever. To me it showcased the pull between these two women and the fight in Ryder to find happiness. With Vanessa he had someone who was nearly desperate in her love for him, but his feelings didn't match. In Lindy, his heart ached for her, but she was emotionally unavailable because of her trauma. Wait for Lindy to heal, or stay with someone and maybe give up on the love of a lifetime? In either case, he found himself wishing the other would stay a little longer.

Remember that scene in "Sparrows" where Ryder joins Lindy in Willow's cabin. She's spinning knives and ordering them by size, obviously stewing over something. That conversation, that whole scene, the one I call the when do you break down scene, was inspired by this song, "Break on me" by Keith Urban.

"Wildest dreams" by Taylor Swift played on repeat while I wrote many parts of the third book. It had the earthy, ethereal, breathy feel that I wanted for the romantic scenes, all the while foreshadowing what would take place at the end. If I could, your book would start playing this song as Lindy starts her walk out of the hospital for the last time. Her quiet hope playing through her mind that he'll remember her, wearing that dress from the bonfire, even if it's just in his wildest dreams.

Haunted by his love- Fables & Felonies

I still have a playlist on my phone called, "Lindy 4" because I played the songs over and over again while I wrote it and came to love the mix. The biggest element for me was making sure I showed how distracted and haunted Lindy felt about leaving Ryder in Washington. For me, "Make you Miss me" by Sam Hunt totally captured it for me. In my mind, this song was Ryder singing in her head, like his voice she kept speaking to in her head, over and over reminding her that there was no escape from him or his memory. I imagined many restless nights, staring at the ceiling, counting down the hours until morning, tormented by the miles between them. My Itunes shows over 300 listens to this song. My family hates this song. I still love it...

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Ryder is trying to put his mind and memories together. The Thanksgiving scene from Ryder's Diaries--- I heard "You should be here," by Cole Swindell, and that scene between Ryder and Johnny unfolded. "Fable" was the book where I really started writing Ryder's side of things. I'd done little pieces here and there before, but I couldn't create his voice until I knew his side of things. This song was the start of that voice. I didn't hear him clearly until I heard the heartbreak in this song. Then Ryder's voice became surround sound in my mind.

Everything comes full circle-Babysitters & Bodyguards

Obviously I can't give you a play by play for the last book... yet. I can tell you what's been on my playlist while writing it.

(In no particular order)

Look for:

"Burning House" by Cam

"Stitches" by Shawn Mendes

"Ex's & Oh's" Elle King

"Love me like you do" by Ellie Goulding

"Fix" by Chris Lane

"Die a Happy Man", by Thomas Rhett

"Treat you better" by Shawn Mendes

I hope you've enjoyed this look into the makings of the Lindy Johnson Series. I've thoroughly enjoyed all my years with Lindy. I can't wait for the next release. It's been a long time in the making. I finished writing Babysitters& Bodyguards a couple years ago. Last night I finished the final draft from the editor. I can't believe this moment is finally here.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on what songs you think go along with the series. Hit me up on email: nelliekneves@gmail.com or leave me a comment on Facebook or Twitter.

Look for the release of Babysitters & Bodyguards May 2020.

Soundtrack to a Mystery
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