Monday, October 10, 2011

Unwrapping Scrooge: Behind the Scenes

by: Anne Holly

Book writers kind of got the shaft, compared to filmmakers and their soundtracks and oh-so-nifty DVD featurettes and things. I’d love to do a read-along-commentary for my books, but when you’re a writer such things just look needy, and people tend to throw things at you when you talk while they’re reading. *shrugs*

Yet, we have some recourse – blogging! So, here I am to speak a bit about the music and inspiration that went on behind the scenes of my Decadent Publishing Christmas romantic-comedy novella, Unwrapping Scrooge, by way of a playlist, including the book’s theme song.

It’s kind of perfect that I’m on this blog today of all days, since today is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and I am a dyed-in-the-wool Canuck, and so is my heroine, the charming Molly Gillis, who spreads her Canadian warmth wherever she goes. The Canadian Thanksgiving is an important event for Kale and Molly, since it was the first time they had a date – and the first time Kale stood her up (long story).

First, the blurb:

Bestselling author Kale McKinnon is a modern Scrooge - eccentric, misanthropic and reclusive, made bitter by the coldness of his wealthy family. But when optimistic Canadian graduate student Molly Gillis visits Oxford and invades his space, he realizes Christmas is about to change for him forever. But can he make her stay, and force himself to un-Scrooge enough to be the right man for her?

Now, the playlist:

10. “Through Being Cool,” Devo
This was the theme song for my eccentric, stubbornly-nerdy hero, Kale. He seemed like a Devo kind of guy – when no one was looking, that is. Geek Pride, yo!

9. “When You Say Nothing at All,” Ronan Keating

This says everything I wanted to say about Kale and Molly. Everyone wants a relationship where the understanding is so deep nothing needs to be said, and the commitment is felt rather than repeated. It makes me melt.

8. “You Make me Feel So Young” Frank Sinatra
This was Molly’s theme – she is eternally young, because she is eternally optimistic. So much so, she brings spring to Kale in dead winter.

7. “Santa Baby” Eartha Kitt

Too soon for Christmas music? Tough, it’s a Christmas book. Now you know how it feels to write a Christmas romance in August to give the publisher enough time to run it by December. As to this specific song – this is the real deal; the one that woke us all up the sexy, romantic potential of the holidays. As something of a holiday writer, I owe it a lot.

6. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” Cyndi Lauper
This was the theme for Molly’s roommate Colby – a young, rich, pretty girl rampaging on a Continental experience tour.

5. “I’m a Stranger in Paradise” Matt Munro
This is the basic situation, I guess, so it’s not unclear as to what this song is doing on the list. As to the specific version, Matt “the Singing Bus Conductor” Munro gave it a bit of a British feel, while Tony Bennett is too All-American. And Sarah Brightman, as talented as she is, is just too high pitched for me for nighttime listening without bleeding from the ears. I’m a mellow sort of gal.

4. “She,” Elvis Costello

This was Kale’s mind about Molly, one of the most wonderful expressions of a lover’s joyful worship for the beloved. Also, I love Elvis Costello (who was a contributing factor to my son’s name, by the way). And, yes, I know this is the second song from Notting Hill in this list, but I swear that wasn't deliberate. I promise it will be the last. Oh, okay, perhaps I’ll sneak one more in, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” by Bill Withers, because, damn, that’s a great one. (

3. “I’ll be Home for Christmas” Bing Crosby
The ultimate away-from-home-at-Christmas song, which never fails to make me misty. Also, comes from the movie that Molly watches every year as part of her family rituals.

2. “Dedicated to You” Ella Fitzgerald.
The ultimate song for novelists in love.

1. “River” Joni Mitchell
Perhaps one of the most beautiful songs ever made about being away from home at the holidays. Also one of the greatest holiday-song-that-isn’t-a-carol songs. (For something interesting, you can also try the Robert Downey Jr. version, which is surprisingly lovely:

And (drum roll, please) the absolute song-behind-the-book theme song of Unwrapping Scrooge:

“I’ve Got My Love to Keep me Warm,” as sung by the Mills Brothers

Probably the most romantic song ever conceived, perfect for a Christmas romance, and for a Canadian heroine who melts the heart of a scrooge. Beautiful harmonies, sweet lyrics, and such heartfelt feeling, covering more than just the weather. The kind of song a couple dances to at their 50th anniversary. The kind of love I wanted for Kale and Molly.

So, that’s it – those were the songs in my head when I wrote Unwrapping Scrooge. I think they make a really strong landscape painting in sound of what the book means.

All of my books have theme songs. I can’t use them in the text, of course, due to copyright, but I listen to them during the planning phases, and during my rest moments between scenes. The magic, meaning and sentiment of the lyrics hangs around the edges of the book, imbuing them with their sparkle and reminding me of the direction. They also help me maintain a consistent mood when writing over days and weeks, and again during editing.

I wish I could always reveal the theme song for every book, and add the videos as a special feature. Alas, most of them go unpublicized. I am pleased this one didn’t.

Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Holidays, to all!
- Anne

Anne Holly is a Canadian writer of romance and erotic-romance, as well as a mother and teacher. She is the author of the novel Strings Attached, which was described by The Romance Reviews as “a classic contemporary romance.” She has been published by Wild Horse Press, Decadent Publishing and Rebel Ink Press. Anne’s work is characterized by its unusual heroes, sweet/spicy balance, witty dialogue, responsible citizenship, and its positive, optimistic nature. You may visit Anne at her blog or website.

Her email is

1 comment:

Barbara Elsborg said...

It's really interesting the way music works for some writers!! That was fascinating. I'm a fan of listening to music when I'm running or in the car but at no other time, but even this morning, I had a idea spark off a lyric and had to run fast before I forgot it!