So this past weekend I went to New Orleans to hang out for my semi-bachelorette party. In reality, pretty much everyone flaked on me so it was just me and my maid-of-honor, which was cool. We immersed ourselves in dope live music, good food and lots-o-drinks.
Being there made me think about Brian, Destiny and even Zay and Jersey (who you'll be introduced to in August when Happiness in Jersey is released). New Orleans is where Brian and Destiny share their first kiss and it's where Zay is from. To say I'm a little enthralled by the culture there would probably be an understatement.
So there I am, in some uber tourist-y restaurant on Bourbon having a shrimp po' boy, thinking about how cool it is that even though I'd never been to that restaurant before, I'd sort of inadvertently described it in Better Than Okay... vibrant tables and everything. It was was a little weird. Very Ms. Cleo-ish. Very Rust Cohle-ish. I smelled the psychosphere... wait, or did he taste the psychosphere?
Whatever. Maybe it's actually not that impressive because all the tourist-y restaurants pretty much look the same. Sigh.
Anyway, I'm definitely rambling now. The point is, I love New Orleans. I love the culture. Speaking of "culture" (liked that segue, huh?) I've sold my first few books internationally! Feel free to shimmy... I did!
Okay, I'm going to stop typing now because it's late and I've definitely gone on for too long already.
Long live New Orleans.
Okay, so I thought it would be cool to let everyone know what artists I was listening to while writing Better Than Okay. I listened to a bit of everything (as usual) but these songs or albums were especially pivotal while creating Destiny and Brian's world.
I have to admit, sometimes I'd be blocked for a week at a time (although it took about two months to finish the first draft)... usually when something rough was happening with the characters. I really tried to make sure that their responses and reactions to different external factors (or in Destiny's case, internal ramblings) were true to character and realistic.
Anyway. Here's my playlist. Maybe you'll find something new you dig, or something old worth remembering.
Jesse Boykins- "Come to My Room"
This song honestly probably received the most play while I was writing, especially late at night. It's so sensual, not overtly sex-filled but coaxing and gentle. I love this song. I was listening to this while writing a lot of the love scenes—and by that I mean the scenes where they were interacting with each other and the love was apparent, even if there was nothing physical happening.
Daley- "Look Up"
This is just a great song and I really listened to this mostly while doing my revisions.
Philip Owusu- "Goodnight"
This is such a dope song with so much character and energy. It's a storytelling song that I could lost in and leave on repeat without noticing (in a good way).
Stevie Wonder- "Knocks Me Off My Feet"- In the book, Destiny's favorite artist of all-time is Stevie Wonder. At one point I even had each of the chapters named for a Stevie Wonder song but ultimately decided against it. This song in particular is so gorgeous. I know it's a popular song that gets played a lot but really listening to the words and absorbing the feelings he was relating with his descriptions is beautiful on another level.
John Legend- Love in the Future
Let's be clear. I cant' stand "All of Me" which has become the popular song off of this album. But this is a really great album, John's best since Once Again in my opinion. "We Loved It" featuring Seal, "Aim High" "Who Do We Think We Are" and "So Gone" are among my favorites and were played repeatedly while writing the entire book. In fact, the sequel to Better Than Okay (which I'm writing now) is sort of themed after one of John Legend's most memorable songs "Ordinary People." What happens when you get past the honeymoon and into "the thick of love" as he says?
Radiohead- OK Computer
One of my favorite albums of all-time, I remember writing most of Chapters 8 and 9 listening to this on repeat.
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I was browsing the Internets doing some "research" for my next novel, Happiness in Jersey (which is back from the editor and ready to be released in July, yay!) and came across this picture.
Can we say yum? I will if you won't.
Anyway, this is my version of Brian Jace. Look at those eyelashes. If you read the book, you should know that Destiny has a thing for Brian's eyelashes—so much so that at one point he has to tell her to stop talking about them because it's weird.
So yeah, this is my version of Brian. I'm also knee-deep into writing the sequel to Better Than Okay, which will give everyone a deeper look into the things that make Brian tick and explore the ins and outs of Brian's and Destiny's new relationship (everything isn't peachy), so finding this picture was especially cool. Thank you, Google images, and extremely handsome man whose name I don't know.
If you have a different idea of what Brian Jace looks like, feel free to share.