• Sofia Sawyer

My Music Playlist for Always, Ella

I’ve been writing like crazy this month, just shy of the halfway point for the first draft of Always, Ella! Even with a ton of travel (for work and fun), back and forth edits with my agent for Saving the Winchester Inn, and the general feeling of “senioritis” thanks to summer, I had to keep that momentum going.


So, how do I ensure the words flow when it seems like everything in my life wants me to pull me away? Well, I want to say it’s my intense Type A personality. My fear of missing goals and deadlines (even the ones I place on myself) is a pretty big motivator. But that’s not all. Sure, deadlines keep me on track, but I also need something to enhance my creativity.


Cue the music.


No, but really. When I need a motivational boost for my writing, I create little playlists on my YouTube account to set the mood. Since every story I write is different, with varying challenges and budding love scenes, I try hard to curate a list that fits the tone of the book and the relationship between the characters. I’ve found that the music tends to enhance how I write, adding that bit of flavor so I can find the right words.


Anyhoot, I figured I’d share a little bit about what’s on my playlist for Always, Ella.


First, for context, this story is a frenemies to lovers trope. Elena Lucia is in a bit of a pickle and turns to her best friend’s brother, Jackson St. Julien, to step in and act as her boyfriend. I promise I’ll share a full blurb later (whenever I write it), but this is the gist.


What you need to know is that Elena grew up with Jackson, by way of her best friend, Mae. Although they got along fine in grammar school, Elena and Jackson butt heads in high school and their relationship never really recovered. As they made it to their twenties, Jackson traveled the world to build his business. And a few years apart meant a lot of growing up and changing for both of them. As they’re brought together again, they uncover misunderstandings from their past and now unveil who they are in the present.


And, they kinda find out they’re into each other. Eek!


That said, the perfect music for this were some of my favorites in grammar school through college. I like the nostalgia the songs bring back to me and feel like the characters will experience the same emotions I did as they look back on all the old times.


More importantly, these songs remind me of my own life when emotions ran rapid, love and lust felt intense, and heartbreak was devastating. The lyrics and the instrumentals only intensify that, which is what I want to tap into this when writing some of the heartfelt scenes. I’m hoping these songs will remind me of those times so I can use those feelings.


So what bands are on my list? Here you go. Some late-90s through mid-2000s gems.

  • Dashboard Confessional

  • Taking Back Sunday

  • Jimmy Eat World

  • Something Corporate

  • Third Eye Blind

  • Goo Goo Dolls

  • Semisonic

  • Lifehouse

  • Switchfoot

  • Dishwalla

  • The Ataris

  • Jacks Mannequin

  • Saves the Day

  • The Fray

  • Trapt

  • The Script

  • Wakey! Wakey!

  • Yellowcard

  • Finch

  • Angels & Airwaves

  • Brand New

Growing up in a small beach town on the Jersey Shore really influenced the music I listened to. Lots of punk-pop bands, emo, alternative rock, and ska were found in my music lineup from those days. With Jackson being a surfer, it just felt fitting.


Did you listen to any of those bands? Or, are you like me and can’t seem to let these songs go? I’ll admit, I’ve been listening to my Dashboard Confessional Pandora station a lot lately. The songs always bring back so many memories.

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