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Wednesday 2 October 2019

✉♫ The Power of Music in Speak No Evil - Liana Gardner

Today author takes over our blog to tell us about The Power of Music in Speak No Evil, her latest novel (, Vesuvian Books, 314 pages), a Young Adult Mystery.

"Gardner tackles difficult topics, including bullying and abuse of all types, in a way that is both artistic and respectful. Given these weighty and emotional issues, the book is masterfully written in such a way that it is a pleasure to read." --BookTrib

"Speak No Evil is a touching tribute to the power of love, faith and steadfast, patient kindness to heal the damage done by human cruelty and thoughtlessness."

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The Power of Music in Speak No Evil

by Liana Gardner

Have you ever listened to a song and realized it conveys exactly how you’re feeling?  The way the melody and rhythm intertwine to create the mood and the lyrics express feelings in such an eloquent way, your own words pale in comparison?

Music is such a powerful force, I don’t think I’ve ever run across anyone who hasn’t been able to answer those questions with a firm yes.  I learned the power of music as a storyteller as a child as I listened to Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf again and again.  The theme by the string section gives a joyous lift, while the melancholy notes from the oboe bring to mind the silly Sonia and a pensiveness as to her fate.

I probably drove my mother to distraction with the number of times I listened to it and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice while watching the story in my head.

Because I have always connected songs with stories, it seemed natural to listen to music while I write.  Some songs have become so aligned with the character for me, that the intro bars throw me into the character’s world and I no longer “hear” the song at all.  Before embarking on the first draft of Speak No Evil, I already knew the importance music would play in the overall context of the story.  When the story opens, the main character, Melody Fisher, has not spoken, or communicated in any way, for two years.  She has stabbed a classmate and the judge has mandated therapy because he wants to hear her side of the story.  And when she first starts to communicate, she does so through music.

Most of the time, before I was able to start putting words on the page, I had to listen to song after song on YouTube until I found a new one to add to the playlist.  For previous books, I needed to listen to familiar songs, ones where I knew all the lyrics, so this was a new frontier on the writing side for me.  I enjoyed finding new artists and unique twists to covers.  or example, one of my finds was the Major to Minor series by Chase Holfelder.  Through my wanderings I ran across his rendition of Girls Just Want to Have Fun and was hooked by his talent, and the major to minor concept and how it changes the mood of the song. 

I also listened to Pentatonix, Anastacia, Taylor Swift, Rival Sons, Adele, Colbie Caillat, Dolly Parton, Vivaldi, Clay Crosse, Dixie Chicks, Kelly Clarkson, Sarah McLachlan, Pink, Perpetuum Jazzile, Against the Current, and more.

Some of the songs in Speak No Evil are mentioned by title, but I needed original lyrics for use when Melody is communicating through music.  Knowing my limitations in that department (I’m not a lyricist), I joined forces with Lucas Astor who took my ramblings about what I needed for the song and put together some wonderful lyrics to create the mood allowing Melody to “speak” to her therapist.

When Dr. Kane asks her how she felt at her mother’s funeral, Melody’s response was to share The Sun Doesn’t Shine On Me Anymore.  The death of her mother was the catalyst for her entire life to be turned upside down and Lucas penned the below lyrics which hit me right in the feels because it summed up exactly how Melody felt.

I am too young 
To feel this way 
Forever eclipsed 
By a darkened day 
The sun doesn’t shine 
On me anymore 
Afraid of not knowing 
What I have to live for. 

Through all the trauma that she has gone through: losing her parents, foster care placement upheaval, and several types of abuse, music has been her only constant; the thing that has never let her down.  So when she speaks up about things and her situation goes from bad to worse, she becomes increasingly silent until she simply ceases talking or communicating with anyone.  She clings to an old MP3 player, a Christmas gift from several years prior, because it is a reminder of her past when she was loved.

Sing the song of your heart has become a catchline for the book.  We have coupled it with a symbol—a bass clef and upside-down treble clef which form a heart—as a message of courage and hope.

Thanks to BooksChatter for hosting me today.

Speak No Evil
Available NOW!

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CMash said...

What a great and interesting post! Really enjoyed reading it.

Liana Gardner said...

Thanks again for hosting the guest post and adding such awesome videos into it. Such a pleasure.