The connections that lead to artistic creation are sometimes complicated and difficult to explain. I’ve found story inspiration everywhere from overheard conversations on public transportation to a tiny bit of dialogue in a TV show to songs. And as a musician, I’ve found song inspiration in many different places as well.
But Midnight Chat, my new novel, is the first story that was inspired by one of my own songs. It wasn’t planned that way. As with so many creative endeavors, it just kind of happened.
It’s been almost two years since it all came into being. I was learning to play bass guitar. I wrote songs throughout high school, but never did anything with them, and I’d stopped doing that in college when I realized I probably was never going to do anything with those songs. Somehow, picking up a bass and figuring out which strings and frets made what sounds had unlocked that songwriting part of my brain again.
A lot of my best ideas come to me when I’m stuck in traffic. Part of my mind stays focused on making sure I don’t hit anyone or anything, but the rest wanders away. That was what happened one night when I was on the way to work on some songs with someone who was helping me at the time.
A song on my Spotify playlist led to me thinking about something that had occurred a year or so earlier at my younger offspring’s school, and that led to words rolling around in my brain. By the time I arrived at my destination, I had almost completed the lyrics for a song called “Midnight Chat,” about a girl whose best friend texts her that he’s going to commit a school shooting the following day.
As soon as I got inside, I grabbed paper and pen and wrote down the lyrics. Within weeks, the instrumental bits for the song were done, and we recorded it. I released it—albeit probably unwisely, since it could have used some polishing (and the person helping me did try to tell me so, but I ignored them)—as a single.
As we worked with the song prior to that, it occurred to me that there was a story there. And since I’m a story writer more than a songwriter, I decided to write the story too. And now it’s out!