I have already written a blog post about Taylor and it’s going to be a bit revamped version of that with recent additions and influences thrown in in the mix. Here is the Taypreciation blog post of her debut album and Fearless (the old version).
When I wrote the original article, Taylor had just brought out folklore out of the blue. That album and its sister, evermore had been an immense help for me to get through my divorce. (Cue in “time to go”) Since then she has also bought out Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version) that also became the soundtracks of my life. (Red more so then Fearless. I mean All too well 10 minute version – I’m living for it.) I’m actually writing this article wrapped in my cardigan™ with a Taylor hoodie hanging on the hanger. ( Yes, I went a bit wild with merch last summer. Hm, this reminds me I have a T-shirt too somewhere that I haven’t seen for a while… time to do an investigation in my wardrobe…)
The first Taylor Swift song I ever heard was You belong with me and it was instalove (okay partly because the guy in the video was very cute :D). It really hit home because I was in high school and I always felt like Taylor’s character: the kind, geeky girl boys never notice. It gave me hope to see that she found love in the end.
The next song that put Taylor back on my radar was Shake it off which has been my go to cheer up music ever since. I had a massive Supernatural era a few years ago, so of course I listened a lot to the Hillywood show version.
Writingwise I discovered Taylor with Life on Mars in 2019. I’m always surprised when I realise that I have 42 000 words written from this novel.
I was blindly crawling forward in the Nano forest of word counts when I needed a song to go with Zen preparing for a date. My writer friend, Gabi recommended The Archer and something fell into place. From that moment on Taylor seeped into the narrative so much so that after some heart-wrenching events (that made me abandon the story) the AI reboots itself and takes the shape of Taytay. LOM is set a few decades in the future so to Zen Taylor is a figure from her parents’ youth, like ABBA is to us.
If you are interested in the book soundtrack of LOM, you can listen to it here:
Taylor Swift songs on the playlist: The Archer, Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince, Paper Rings, Death by a Thousand Cuts, London Boy, Look What You Made Me Do, 22, Cruel Summer
My next book, Macchiatos was a much lighter and more Taylorproof affair. I imagined an indie coffee shop, a dark-haired handsome colleague who could be an instant crush of the heroine and a lot of the sweet suffering of first love. I don’t even know when Isaac arrived into the story and for a long time I didn’t even know his name, I just called him SB (short for Sweet Boy).
Actually the second song that made it to my soundtrack list was Red. There are some songs that directly feature in the story, most notably King of my heart which is sung in a drunk karaoke and leads to some reveals and funny situations. My characters listen to it (and Shake it off) during a road trip and Esther is admittedly a Swiftie. These songs are an instant gateway into my characters feelings and the story’s mood.
You can listen to my book soundtrack to Macchiatos here:
Taylor Swift songs on the list: Red, Style, Today was a fairy tale, Cruel Summer, Gorgeous, I knew you were trouble, All too well, King of My heart, The 1.
Our Best Friend’s Alien Boyfriend is less Taylor influenced although I did name a character Stephen, so that Juniper could say Hey, Stephen.
Then of course there is August. I wanted to write a story influenced by the teenage love triangle (cardigan – betty – august) and it did become the core of the story but there are so much more of folklore/evermore in it. In August, Aurora is sent to a summer language school by her mothers. (Oh yes, I have forgot to mention her family in the article on Queen characters. Aurora has two mothers mum and maman (who is French) and I love them a lot.) She needs a change of air because she is still reeling from a break up with Jake (you see what I did there, don’t you? (if not see Taylor vs Jake Gyllanhal vs All too well). In her host family’s attic she discovers a box full of letters that tell the story of a turbulent summer when, among other things, the writer of the letters has a summer love affair with the addressee. Aurora decides to find out who those people were.
This was the basic idea but the songs kept adding plot lines: illicit affairs and cowboy like me inspired an illicit affair with the son of the poney club owner (as close to a cowboy as you can get in Normandie). The last great american dynasty gave me the American millionaire who returns after many years, champagne problems a broken engagement and seven a strong female friendship (or more than friendship? Only they know.) There is also a cool grandma a la marjorie. (But I don’t kill her like I did with poor Blue’s granny.)
Oh and of course there is Alison, the kind restaurant owner-singer who helps Aurora with her song writing. Well, she’s Taylor herself gracing us with a cameo. (Taylor’s middle name is Alison.)
You can listen to the August book soundtrack here:
“Evelyn?” I whispered. When she looked up at me I was taken aback. Her eyes seemed empty and without light, just a husk of the amazing girl I knew.
“My father is drunk again.”
“Did he hurt you?” I asked, drawing her in a clumsy hug. Her tears fell on my shoulder.
“No. Not tonight in any case.” She swallowed. “When he’s like this… he can get a bit too loving.”
The remains of my dinner turned in my stomach.
She lifted her eyes at me, life returning to them. I felt pierced by her stare.
“Never. Ever. Feel sorry for me.”
“I’m sorry,” I stammered then gasped. To my surprise, Evelyn started laughing and its cheerful sound reassured me.“Is there anything I can do for you though?”
She lifted her eyes and stared at the starry night among the branches of pine trees then shook her head. “Unless you want to run away with me?”
“Where would you want to go?” I asked, tracing the outlines of Orion with my finger.
She shrugged. “Somewhere far away… Canada? No, too cold probably. India? Japan?”
“I’ll go and pack my suitcase. What would we do to earn some money?”
“I’d of course become a famous actress. Or the wife of a millionaire. As for you… you could be a waitress? You already have the experience.”
“Thanks? I’d much prefer to draw caricatures of rich tourists who understand nothing of art.”
“Whatever floats your boat.”
We fell silent for a moment. The smell of pines melted into the salty sea breeze and the freshness of the night.
“Shouldn’t you be thinking of running away with Baptiste?”
“I guess.” She flicked a non-existent fluff from her jumper.
“Do you think he is the one?” I wondered.
Evelyn snorted. I had never heard her make such an unelegant sound.
“Hell, no.” <This is the seven inspired scene from August>
I edged towards the furthest door, trying to block the receiver with my hand so that Tommy wouldn’t go deaf from Macy’s inarticulate “singing.” Fortunately, she seemed to have forgotten what she was about to do and threw herself whole-heartedly in the song.
“And all at once, you are the one I have been waiting for King of my heart, body, an soul, ooh whoa” Macy howled.
I managed to scurry into the bathroom and I was about to shut the door when she added “King of my heaaaaart, Thomas. Where are you?” It was no less loud than the rest.
I leaned my head against the cold tiles and slowly sank to the floor. The other side of the phone had grown suspiciously silent.
“Khm,” Tommy said.
“Ohm,” I replied and wondered if we’re going to have this conversation in monosyllabic grunts. “Tell me you didn’t hear that,” I said half begging.
“I’d be lying.”
I banged my head against the wall.
“Khm,” Tommy said again. It seemed this was going to be the word of the evening. “Care to explain what’s going on? I’m pretty confused.” <Macchiatos>