Music as a Storytelling Tool
Today’s guest post comes from author Lee Matthew Goldberg, as part of the blog tour for his newest novel, Grenade Bouquets. This is a sequel to Runaway Train, which I read earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed.
Many thanks to Giselle at Xpresso Book Tours for inviting me to participate.
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE ANCESTOR, THE MENTOR, THE DESIRE CARD and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. His first YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is forthcoming in 2021 along with a sci-fi novel ORANGE CITY. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City.
Music was such an important part of GRENADE BOUQUETS. Since each chapter is a different song from the era (1994-1996), the novel reads like a mixtape. It also really helped me outline the book. I would write some beats that would happen in each chapter and then find a song that fit with what the characters were experiencing. Being a teenager in 1995, it was a great way for me to travel back and become immersed in the era.
The heart of GRENADE BOUQUETS is also about music, since the main character Nico Sullivan longs to become a grunge singer like her idols Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. In the first book RUNAWAY TRAIN, she finally sings at an Open Mic where before she’d only sung in the shower. But in the second book, she joins up with a band that actually hits it big. The book charts the rise and fall of the band, both economically and emotionally. Nico has to discover what is ultimately important to her, while still grieving from her sister’s death.
I know how much music meant to me when I was a teen. I would create mixtapes with all of my favorite songs in an era long before Spotify. For Nico, music is an outlet for her feelings, a way of coping and mourning her sister’s untimely passing. It is as much of a character in both books as the actual characters.
In addition, while I hope the book reads as nostalgia for people who grew up in the 90s, I also see it a way to introduce teens today to the music from that time. The grunge movement was only a short period of time and there are teens today who maybe haven’t even heard of Nirvana. I created playlists available on Spotify for both books, and I’ve had readers listen to the songs as they read along. Since the ’90s have been making a comeback in terms of fashion, it’s natural that the music from that time would find a resurgence too.
Learn more about Lee Matthew Goldberg on his website or social media platforms: