Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Guest Post: Juliana Baggott, Author of PURE

I know that Jen is huge on music and is interested in hearing about the process of writing and the influence (if any) that a certain artist, song, album has had on a book.

First, let me say that there’s a good bit of music in PURE. There’s a song sung by children early on in the novel.

Burn a Pure and breathe the ash.
Take his guts and make a sash.
Twist his hair and make a rope.
And use his bones to make Pure soap.


I hear this song in my head sung by children, voices floating and echoing as if in an alley.

Writing a post-apocalyptic novel means that you have to ask certain kinds of questions: What survives? Does music survive? Does the concept of God and faith? Does the desire to make art survive? Does love survive? To my mind, all of these things endure because they’re facets of the human condition. In book two, FUSE, there are more songs, eerie ones that haunt the characters.

But also, one of the things that Pressia remembers about her mother is a song, a lullabye. This becomes very important. The lullabye, although never identified outright, is a song that many people should recognize. (Here’s a hint – it’s about about a girl on a front porch and someone is begging her to take his hand to ride with him into the Promise Land.) So, yes, music is important, essential. It survives.

I don’t listen to music while I write, but sometimes I listen while plotting which for me can be a fairly associative, visual, and improvisational. It’s strange to think of plotting a novel as anything but the organizational mapping of a book – something that’s done in a very self-aware way. But for me, it’s not at all. I gather images and visual clips of what I want to write. I use large art-book sized sheets and jot those elements that have been surfacing and resurfacing. And then, sometimes to music – sometimes the same song, over and over – I quilt those images together, creating stitches that would attach one to the next. I create a map, one that I think will see me through to the end of the novel; it never does. In the writing process, the characters are willful and start to do things I don’t expect. These are moments I long for. It means the characters are real enough to make their own demands.

For PURE, toward the end of writing it, there was a song that I turned to. The Smith’s “How Soon Is Now?” It’s dark and industrial and seems, to me, to resonant with a dystopian aesthetic while insisting on being human, each of us deserving to be loved.



"I am human and I need to be loved. Just like everybody else does."
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Julianna, thank you so much for stopping by! I'm about halfway through PURE right now and honestly, The Smiths' song is PERFECT for the feel of the novel. It's dark, it's ominous, it's desperate. Go HERE to order PURE from Amazon. It's released today!

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4 comments:

  1. I agree that The Smiths song is perfect, particularly toward the end of the book.

    I love when JBaggott says: "Writing a post-apocalyptic novel means that you have to ask certain kinds of questions: What survives? Does music survive? Does the concept of God and faith? Does the desire to make art survive? Does love survive? To my mind, all of these things endure because they’re facets of the human condition. In book two, FUSE, there are more songs, eerie ones that haunt the characters."

    I've read other good post-apocalyptic, bleak books and they let nothing through. No art, no books, no music. So to see that JB wants it to survive in these books is nice and refreshing to me. And the theme of the songs and lullaby is one that I loved. And the FUSE teaser kills me. It aches. So long until that one comes out!

    Great post ladies!! Loved it. ;)

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  2. What an awesome post!! I'm always fascinated how music effects the writing process, or what songs go into a novel. I LOVE Pure so much, I'm still trying to write my review and explain just how much I love it - and why everyone else should too. I love this song and I think it fits perfectly too! Again what a great post and a great blog too, I'm adding it to my RSS :)

    I seriously cannot WAIT until Fuse comes out, I'm already anxious and stoked :D

    All best!

    April @ My Shelf Confessions

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  3. YES! Music!

    And I think I just won the prize for dumbest comment ever.

    But seriously, I can definitely see How Soon Is Now as a theme for Pure.

    Although, I still don't know what the lullaby is. #FAIL

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  4. I've heard a lot of good things about Pure! I REALLY want to read it. It sounds perfect :)

    Marlene Detierro (Seward Alaska Fishing)

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