by Bridget Tyler
I'm currently reading Drummer Girl (liking it so far), and I should have a review up within the next few days but until then, Bridget Tyler has written up a post for us about the importance of music when writing the story.Summary: It was supposed to be the summer of her life. Instead, 17-year-old Lucy finds her best friend Harper shot dead in an LA swimming pool. How did it come to this?
Lucy Gosling is the drummer in Crush, a rock band formed by five London schoolgirls that has just won the UK semi-final of an international talent contest. But when the band lands in Hollywood for the big final, things are not quite as they seem. The band's lead singer, Harper, has just one thing on her mind - using sex, drugs and rock and roll, not to mention Crush itself, to win back her bad-news ex-boyfriend. Lucy must decide whether she's playing to Harper's tune, or setting the rhythm for the rest of the band.
Anyway, over to Bridget:
I don’t think I really understood Lucy Gosling until the first time I sat down and tried to imagine how she really felt about drumming. Sure, I knew Lucy was a teenage girl. I knew she had a big brother and a little sister and parents who loved her enough to be a tremendous pain in the neck. But who was she really? What did the world look like through her eyes? What did it sound like? What did it feel like?
For me, the answers to questions like these can only be found once I understand what it’s like to love the thing that my character loves most. For Lucy, that was playing her drums. Now, I’ve played music before. My mother is a piano teacher so I learned to play the piano when I was little. I mangled John William’s medleys on my flute with the best of them in middle school and I even took some voice lessons in high school. I enjoyed it all, but I never loved making music.
And I never played the drums.
But I’m a writer, and imagining things I’ve never done is kind of my job, so I figured I could imagine what it was like to play the drums… and what it was like to love doing it. In order to do that, I had to do what I love most. I had to write.
I sat down with my laptop and started typing, and I stayed there for a long time. I wrote about Lucy’s siblings. I wrote about her parents. I wrote about the day she met her best friend and worst enemy, Harper McKenzie. And that was when this passage came pouring out of my keyboard:
Lucy loved the drums. She loved the pulsing snap that you could feel all the way up your arms while you played. And the feeling you got, if you were really doing it properly, that it wasn't you playing at all, that you could look down on yourself and see this awesome, impossible dance of sticks and arms and symbols and think, "Christ, nobody can do that." And then realize that YOU, in fact, can do that.
Suddenly, Lucy Gosling was alive. All of the facts I’d accumulated about her suddenly added up to something, in that moment when I understood how she felt when she played her drums. Suddenly she was a real girl who laughed and cried and cursed her hair when it wouldn’t do what she wanted (which was approximately 99% of always, naturally). She idolized her brother, she loved to hate her atrocious little sister… she had a million different sorts of feelings about Trent Eisner, none of which she understood. She was a real girl with a real story. A girl I was only able to find, once I knew why she played the drums.
I wish I could play the drums--I was ridiculously hopeless at it in school.