Inspiration Through Music: KT Tunstall

Every once in a while, a story and a musical artist will be so perfect for one another that it almost seems as though they were destined to be together. That is the story with KT Tunstall’s music and my upcoming novella Night Time, Dotted Line. I consider Tunstall’s music to be some of the best road music I’ve ever listened to. I discovered KT Tunstall on an after-highschool graduation trip to New York at a Starbucks in New Paltz. From then on, I’ve thought of an open window, blue skies, and green forests, and coffee… of course, every time I’ve listened to her music. Her songs have intelligent lyrics and catchy beats and are refreshing in the midst of allot of traditionally obnoxious pop. (Okay, okay. I like some of that stuff, too, I admit. But I like Tunstall better.)

KT Tunstall is a Scottish singer-songwriter who came onto the scene in 2004. I didn’t discover her first album “Eye To the Telescope” until two years after, but I’m so glad that I did! Since then, she’s released three other studio albums and some EP’s. Today, I’ll be sharing 6 of her songs which I’ve had inspiration from. I’ve tried to vary it as much as possible and have only used a couple songs that inspired scenes from NTDL.

Push That Knot Away: A dusty road somewhere far out in the desert. We’re following a lone female character who is on a journey of self-discovery. She wants to get away from her past, away from the things that other people are trying to push her to do. We see past glimpses of places she’s been since she’s been on the road. That knot that the song refers to are the people she’s tied to back home. She doesn’t want to cut it… just push it away for a time until she knows who she truly is and what she wants. This is a very headstrong female character who has made mistakes in her past but is hoping to account for them. I have plans for this song to appear in my epic untitled project.

Difficulty: This song is one of the key songs to my Night Time, Dotted Line project, which I’ve been at for about a year now. This book is about two characters who are both disconnected from people in different ways. They have joined up to go on a cross-country trip to an environmental conference. While the story is told in first person from the man’s perspective, the story focuses on both characters and the mishaps they encounter on the road. During these adventures, they learn to look at life in a different way and recognize the problems each is facing. In reality, these two characters are two of the oldest I have. They’ve been with me since 2006. I had used them for an older project which didn’t quite get finished. They have such a good chemistry though that I couldn’t dump them there. I’m hoping to finish Night Time, Dotted Line this summer and get it published via Amazon this fall.

Night Like Pepper: This is so unlike most of KT Tunstall’s pieces that I was blown away by it the first time I heard it. It’s so seductive, and jazzy that I couldn’t help but be inspired by it. I see a tropical island somewhere down in the Caribbean during the forties or fifties. There is a little club surrounded by palm trees where a midst the smokey atmosphere, men puff cigars, women sip cordial and a lone singer croons from a stage toward the back. It sets the scene with an array of characters, any of which could be the focus of the story; the twitchy waiter who can’t help but watch the singer on stage, the bartender who’s suddenly sweating bullets when he recognizes his lover sitting not two tables away with her husband, the singer who knows that at any minute, a fight will break out between her jealous boyfriend and that innocent waiter who’d just delivered her drink… See where I’m going with this.

The Beauty of Uncertainty: Here we have another female protagonist although she isn’t as headstrong as the one we saw in the first song. She’s just made a potentially catastrophic decision. She’s been in a slow decline with her husband for the last few years. Tonight is the night she’s chosen to leave. No longer can she take the verbal abuse, his uncaring attitude, the seemingly endless arguments. She’s sitting on her front porch on the swing, thinking her decision through. She has her suitcase at her feet and she’s listening to her husband’s sleeping breath from the upstairs window. The house sits out in a field with one dirt road winding through the green hills. It’s night and there’s a sliver of moon in the sky. She stands up, grips her suitcase in her hand, and starts the long walk down the road, uncertain of where she’s heading but knowing that it will be better than what’s there at that house.

Funnyman: This song has always been the theme of my main character for Memento Mori ever since I started writing it in 2008. The character is dealing with a lot of past baggage. Traumatic events that he’s blocked out except for these still frames of seemingly innocent images. He tries to cover them up with humor. He refuses to ruminate on any of what happened because he’s afraid of what its turned him into. He basically shut down for a time and he never wants to be that way again. He meets someone eventually that doesn’t fall for his constant joking. They are convinced that there is something he’s not told them that has broken him. This character development is a secondary story to the main one that happens in the novel. While I’ve done a pretty good job of botching up the description of it, I’m anxious to write the rest of this character’s emotional journey.

Stoppin The Love: This is another song that inspired my main characters from Night Time, Dotted Line. These characters start out at odds with one another. They disagree on many different positions. He’s convinced she’s an ultra-crunchy tree hugger. She thinks he’s a heartless lawyer who is married to his work. As they spend more time with one another, they discover that while some of their judgments were right, there is more to uncover and bonds to be forged through some of the things they experience together on their cross-country road trip.

Next time on Inspiration Through Music, I’ll be leaping back to some dark ambient music as I choose the soundtrack from an intensely scary horror game that my favorite commentator, HarshlyCritical, just finished. Selections from the Cry of Fear Soundtrack will be next week!



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