Welcome, YA Reads America tour readers! Today’s post features Jaye Robin Brown’s debut, which I got to read a few months back and can promise you that it’s amazing. It’s wonderfully written and the story is absolutely beautiful. Make sure you get all the way to the bottom, where you’ll find the details of a Rafflecopter giveaway that is, honestly, the BEST book giveaway I’ve seen. Trust me, you’ll want to win it! For this guest post, I asked the author to give us some insight into the musical influences on No Place to Fall. Music plays a huge part in the story, which really made the storyline sing. Thanks, Jaye Robin Brown, for this post, and thanks to YA Reads for putting on the Debut Authors Bash! The Music Behind NO PLACE TO FALL In my debut novel, No Place To Fall (Harper Teen – Dec. 2014), Amber Vaughn longs to get out of her tiny hometown. The one thing she has going for her, is her voice. She’s grown up singing, in church, at campfires, with her family, but it isn’t until she and her best friend, Devon, start hanging out at the hiker barn—an overnight shelter for Appalachian Trail through hikers—that she realizes strangers also think her voice is something special.
Surprisingly enough, No Place To Fall, didn’t start out as a book about music. It started with the hiker barn and the voice (in my head on a drive into work) of this girl named Amber who wanted more than her home town could give her. As my first idea grew and spread, the music seeped in little by little. There are two events that stand out to me in shaping Amber’s musical sensibilities. One is this fabulous movie, The Songcatcher, that chronicles the tale of a New England woman who is sent to Appalachia to record and write down all the old Scotch-Irish ballads that have been passed down orally through the years. The music in that film is so evocative and shouts of this place to me. The second event was a chance encounter with a teenage bluegrass band. I was out riding my horse and up on a hill, on their front porch, a bunch of young people were playing all the old classics—tunes you don’t normally associate with teenagers. I stopped my horse and hung out listening. Those musicians were incredibly skilled and the visual and auditory memory has stuck with me ever since.
Choosing old-time, bluegrass, and Americana has at times felt like a risky choice for my character, but I can’t imagine her singing anything else. Sure, she might belt out some Adele or Beyonce now and then, but the classic singers like Patsy Cline, Rhonda Vincent, Dolly Parton, and Allison Krauss are what Amber knows, and what her voice is suited for. I hope Amber’s love of song and the depth of what singing does for her soul will transcend any reader’s personal taste as they read about her musical choices. And of course there has to be a boy. And in this case it’s Will McKinney, the banjo playing older brother of Amber’s best friend. In Will, Amber finds a kindred spirit. Someone who feels the music in their bones and sees it as more than a hobby. Their relationship takes its own journey, but in the end, they both grow as people from knowing the other.
If you want to dive into the music a bit more, here’s the playlist I put together on Grooveshark and a little bit about each song and what it meant to me as I was writing No Place To Fall. http://grooveshark.com/playlist/No+Place+To+Fall/81652470
- Amazing Grace by Patsy Cline – One of Amber’s favorite songs to sing. This is a beautiful version and fits Amber’s voice.
- Pretty Saro by Iris Dement – This is an old ballad that Amber loves. This particular version is the version that was in the movie, Songcatcher. http://youtu.be/A6ArylRGWME
- I’ll Fly Away by Alison Krauss – A favorite church song and Amber’s first public performance.
- My First Lover by Gillian Welch – The title says it all :) (and on a side note, my editor listened to a lot of Gillian Welch while editing this book) http://youtu.be/b6ZcAkcypgY
- Jackson by Johnny Cash – One of the most fun duet songs there is. With the Carter Family Fold (home of Johnny’s wife, June Carter Cash) just over the mountain, some of the man in black had to be a part of this playlist. http://youtu.be/nzhzCF77GDo
- Barbara Allen by Emmy Rossum – Another old ballad. When I imagined Amber’s voice, I often thought of Emmy Rossum’s voice in the movie, Songcatcher. http://youtu.be/rRgH_0zxqQE
- When Love is New – Dolly Parton & Emmy Rossum – A bittersweet song about how relationships change over time. For Amber’s parents.
- Something About What Happens When We Talk – Lucinda Williams – In Amber’s journey with Will, things aren’t always easy. http://youtu.be/7fT0MDQKew0
- One Big Love – Emmylou Harris – This is the big feeling at the end of the book. http://youtu.be/lyJGNJJz8J8
- Will McKinney is a huge Avett Brothers fan (me, too!). This is a sweet little video of Scott Avett singing The Coo Coo Song which Amber and Will sing together in chorus. http://youtu.be/O-TI1RbQHlg
- And here’s a live version of Little Feat’s Dixie Chicken, the song Will sings on stage that first makes Amber realize he has the serious music thing, too. http://youtu.be/1FekVR_SC5M