Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rock This! Thursday Guest Blog: Rhythm In Words

Every Thursday we feature books that are about or centered around one thing we love the most: music! Once in a while we'll even throw in a concert story, music you should hear or have an author stop by to hang out with us.

Today we have Inda Lauryn, author of In Time, to talk about her writing and her love of music.


Music moves me in a way no other medium can. I may keep a memory of a movie or book long after I have finished it, but my music has to be with me everywhere I go. Rarely if ever will anyone see me walking down the street without a pair of headphones attached to my ears.

My love of music eventually led me to my studies of black women in the entertainment industry and my first book Dream Factory Deferred: Black Womanhood, History and Music Video. I examined the origins of music video in 1930s-40s Hollywood; the black female sex symbol in the persons of Josephine Baker, Tina Turner and Lil Kim; and the evolving representations of black women of the neo-soul movement who are still pushed to the margins in favor of more recognizable stereotypical portrayals of black women. I plan to continue my explorations of black women who eschew the boundaries placed on them by the music industry. I would love to write about Minnie Riperton, Rebekah Jordan, Imani Coppola, Lizz Wright and Lamya among others who thumb their noses at genre and convention.

In the meantime, I pay homage to them in fiction. The protagonist of my novel In Time, Amrita, must pick up the pieces of her shattered life after years of trauma. Part of her salvation comes in the form of an outspoken friend EunJung who creates a playlist, Chillax, for Amrita. In her self-reflections, Chillax becomes ever more important in Amrita’s rediscovery of her life and body. She begins to become comfortable with her identity as well as her place in the world.

In my short stories and other currently in-progress works, music triggers a memory or provides inspiration for other forms of art. Characters lose themselves by listening to John Coltrane or Cassandra Wilson while their world of problems continues to revolve around them. Music is release. Music is escape. Music is salvation.

Music plays an important part in the lives of practically all my protagonists. Although they are always black women, their tastes run the gamut from soul to rock to classical. Sly and the Family Stone exists next to Bob Dylan. Evanescence is on an equal plane as The Roots. Both Maxwell and Exile are taken to the bedroom. Red Hot Chili Peppers are just as an important part of childhood to them as Shirley Murdock. Of course this eclectic mix reflects my own tastes. I devote much time and effort to black female music artists, but like most people, I do not exclusively listen to them. Music is so much larger than that. Still, I will continue to champion black women who make distinctive marks on the music world. In the meantime, the likes of Keane, Coldplay and Mars Volta also keep me company.

Music will continue to play a crucial role in everything I write. I cannot imagine my life without it. I cannot imagine my characters without it.


Don't forget to swing by and check out Inda's website.

**If you're an author who would like to be featured in Rock This! Thursday, send us an email:  Your book doesn't have to be about music either to participate.

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