PREPTOBER 2021 – Behind The Scenes of The Project Sunset Playlist

good morning, cyberspace!

And welcome back to the 2021 Preptober series! Today’s post is a little more on the lighteared and fun side, which I feel provides a nice little relief from the nitty gritty topics we discussed last week. This particular idea wasn’t voted on too heavily during the Instagram polls, but some of y’all really wanted to see what I had up my sleeve in regards to my Spotify playlists! And who am I to tell you no? If it’s behind-the-scenes content you want, it is behind-the-scenes content you are going to get!

So without further ado, let’s dive into my playlist for Project Sunset!

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Not gonna lie, this playlist was one of the highlights of drafting Project Sunset. I absolutely adore creating playlists, specifically ones with themes or inspiration for character casts, and this one is by no means an exception. The creation process of this playlist was a labor of pure and intense love, and I am so excited and proud of how it turned out. (and since we’re only just beginning the second draft, I have a feeling it’s only going to grow as time progresses.) However, since this is a Behind The Scenes sort of deal, I feel it is not only necessary, but my duty to share the nitty gritty details behind some of the song selections. Because there is a LOT of thought that goes into choosing a song for a story playlist, my friends. A lot of thought.

And at the forefront of my mind at all times, no matter what song I’m listening to, there are the characters.

I’ve mentioned multiple times that I’m a character-driven writer, so it’s by no means a surprise when I say that my playlists are typically driven by my characters, as well! One of my favorite things to do when learning the “voice” behind the cast of my novels is to find songs that perfectly match their unique personality. And since Project Sunset has so many characters, I have quite a few songs that are character specific.

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As the Main Main character of Project Sunset, Ed Whittaker’s main theme is technically double-sided. Not only is it his theme, but it’s the Main Theme for the entire novel as a whole! He also has two theme songs in particular, whereas the majority of other characters only have one–thus is the curse of being a side character.

behind the scenes: this is Ed’s Main Theme song, and also one of the very first songs I chose for this playlist! When drafting the first scene of the novel, Song For Ten was the track I listened to in order to orient myself into what I wanted the vibe of the book to be. I still use it to reorient myself into the novel, even, and when I switch over to re-outlining later today, this will be the first song I play before working on my outline.
behind the scenes: this particular song has a very specific part to play in the story of Project Sunset, and I have listened to this track a LOT during the first drafting process! There’s something about the guitar in this song that gets me every time. XD


As the other main character of Project Sunset, Shelby’s theme song is, once again, directly integrated into the plot. I discovered her song while listening to Pandora one day, and it immediately stuck in my head. I knew that it would play during a pivotal scene for Shelby (one that I had planned since the very inception of this novel), but trying to find the song after it stopped playing on our Alexa was nothing short of a nightmare. (curse you, lyric-less music XD)

behind the scenes: not gonna lie, the scene this song was chosen for may or may not have brought tears to my eyes when I drafted it. I’m… not exactly excited to get back to it during the second-drafting process. (even I’m not proud of my Vulcan soul sometimes, friends.)


Not necessarily a Main Character, but still one of my favorites–Fitz’s theme song is one that I still jam out to to this very day… I even went so far as to add it to my work playlist so that all of my coworkers could jam with me. (it’s fine. they love me. kinda.)

behind the scenes: I actually used to HATE this song, and I’m not entirely sure why. Thankfully, I wizened up, because holy guacamole, this song is a bop. Now I can’t help but think of Fitz every time I hear it, and it makes my heart weirdly happy. Any day where Fitz pops into my head, I know it’s gonna be a good one.


Not gonna lie, these guys impacted the playlist a LOT. XD Carlos and Juanita love music–particularly songs they can dance to–and there are at least two or three songs on this playlist that they directly influenced due to their passion for dance. However, the song that I’ve chosen to highlight was their “first dance”, if you will. It was also my initiation into actually enjoying some of Michael Buble’s music, which I still blame Carlos and Juanita for to this very day.

behind the scenes: this song is what I envision to be playing in the very first scene in which Carlos and Juanita are introduced. It makes my heart happy to listen to this song now, because all I can see are these two characters being absolute goofballs. (also, a bit of a side tangent, but one time I was working at my old thrift store job, and a guy with the same last name as these characters came through my checkout line. I was so excited I might have fangirled for a moment…and then they never came back.)


behind the scenes: Another song that is specifically Carlos and Juanita! This song used to come on ALL THE TIME at the thrift store, and I would dance through the aisles, hanging up clothes and trying not to look like the delusional psychopath that I definitely am.


To be honest, this guy is such a minor character that he probably shouldn’t even have his own theme song. But one day my mom started playing this randomly during dinner and… well, honestly the rest is history.

behind the scenes: to be perfectly honest, I have no clue why this song reminds me of Eugene, but if you know the character and his personality… it just… it just makes sense, okay. Trust my word on this one. XD


Similar to Eugene, this is another minor character who somehow managed to get his own theme song! I can’t really complain, though, because Sam was one of my favorite characters to write during this first draft. He was unpredictable and chaotic, but with a soft heart of gold that made my own Vulcan soul melt. If I’m excited about anything when it comes to this novel, it’s for you guys to meet Sam Plinkett.

behind the scenes: I first heard this song on The Blacklist, which is–oddly enough–where a few of the songs on this playlist came from. XD (tbh, The Blacklist had a BOP of a playlist, so if you haven’t checked that show’s soundtrack out yet, I highly recommend it.) It wasn’t until much later that this song would appear on this playlist, but I love that about music. It’s eternal, in a way, and sometimes the songs you heard a year ago won’t click until they’re meant to.


And last, but certainly not the least, on the flipside to Ed, we have our antagonist–Casey Crawford. And if Ed, our hero, has two songs dedicated in his honor, it only makes sense for the villain to have two songs, as well.

Parallels between Good and Evil and all that.

And that, my friends, is exactly why Casey has two songs! (that, and two songs claimed him organically, so it only made sense to feature both) The songs I chose for Casey are not only ballads, but by one of the greatest musical artists of our time… The man. The myth. The legend. Scott Sterling! Freddie Mercury.

behind the scenes: I’ve always loved Queen, but it wasn’t until Project Sunset that I was finally able to give one of my villains the Queen ballad that they truly deserved. XD I don’t know what it is about this band, but there is ALWAYS a Queen song on each of my story playlists. Always. It literally makes no sense.
behind the scenes: not to give away any spoilers or anything, but the selection of this song was pure genius on my part. Once you know, you know.

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Despite the fact that there are about a gazillion characters in Project Sunset, not all of the songs on my playlist have a specific character to correspond with. Sometimes, a song makes it through simply because it matches the vibe of the book–that particular blend of guitar riffs and vocals that takes you away from this mortal plane and deposits you swiftly into the world of your story.

So while the next few song highlights may not be driven by any character in particular, they are still driven by the story as a whole, and without them, I could never have captured the sound of Project Sunset.

behind the scenes: once again, this song was added very early on when creating the playlist. I knew right away that I wanted Istanbul to be a main staple for this book, and this song along got me through many a tough scene when first drafting.
behind the scenes: if you’ve ever watched a movie in which this song played, you will know the impact it can have during a critical scene. I don’t pride myself on my action/fight scenes. In fact, I think they’re one of my greatest weaknesses as a writer. But this song pushed me through the difficult battles and helped me keep writing, even when my brain was screaming at me to quit and become a goat herder.
behind the scenes: …yeah. I got a lot of my music from The Umbrella Academy. I mean, can you BLAME me? XD That soundtrack was a BOP. But also, I’m just eternally in love with Fitz and The Tantrums. They’re incredible, and they’re music has been used in many of my playlists–both writing and personal.
behind the scenes: I have used this song in almost every single project playlist I have ever made. There’s something about the vibe of this song that just screams “found family”, and I’ve been in love with this track ever since the days of everlost.
behind the scenes: not gonna lie, the only reason I’m including this song is because it reminds me of my one eternal love, Jim Moriarty. That’s it. That’s the Behind The Scenes information. XD

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And lastly, in case you just wanted to take a peek at the playlist as a whole and listen to it for yourself, I’ve included the entire thing right here for easy access!

Of course, please keep in mind that this playlist is still very much a work in progress, and I’m constantly adding and removing tracks as I see fit. Some songs help me write for a little while before I realize they don’t match the specific vibe I’m going for, and then I’m forced to remove them to make room for the tracks which do fit the vibe. But all in all, this playlist has been–and will continue to be–my constant companion when drafting Project Sunset. And as I prepare to head into this story’s second draft, I expect it to continue morphing and changing with the theme of the story.

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talk to me, peasants!

Okay, y’all! It’s time to talk about one of my favorite topics–MUSIC!

do you create specific project playlists for your stories, or do you prefer to work in silence? if you’re a music listener, what kinds of songs do you typically listen to when writing? and for my non-music friends, do you create playlists to listen to when you’re NOT writing, or do you prefer other methods of inspitation–such as pinterest or aesthetic boards?

As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down in the comments below!

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *


14 thoughts on “PREPTOBER 2021 – Behind The Scenes of The Project Sunset Playlist

  1. This was so fun to read all about! I love hearing about other peoples’ playlists–people should do playlist posts more often!!!!

    I honestly only know two of the songs you listed, tho. XD Sway and Istanbul, which I am VERY curious about how it embodies the book. [Was that grammatical? No. Does it make sense? I hope so.] Istanbul makes me really happy mostly because it makes my 13yo brother really happy when he’s cleaning the kitchen, and that makes me happy. :) (Actually, I think I know Happy Together, too, but it’s been a long time since I heard any of it. My mom used to sing it when I was little, I think.)

    I *do* make project-specific playlists for my projects BUT I am bad at having a large musical reach? XD XD XD I mostly know Disney stuff, acapella stuff, a few movie soundtracks, and some Christian music. Which…leaves me with not a lot of material, lemme tell ya. I usually end up with a good playlist, but it’s not…as specific as yours. I.e. I don’t have songs for specific characters, nor really for the plot…it’s more for *parts* of characters, plot *points* (but not all the plot points, because am I that organized? do I even know what the plot points are? not really) and the general vibe [most of it is the general vibe, tbh]. Also songs the characters listen to, occasionally.

    Imma be honest, a lot of the time, I end up not listening to the playlist and just listening to Andrew Peterson or Audrey Assad instead. XD

    Liked by 2 people

  2. THIS. WAS. SO. FUN. As I listened to each song all I could think about was what a BOP this whole playlist is. It totally feels like a Kenzie playlist! Just so much fun and epic! :D And you KNOW I 100000% approve of some Doctor Who songs! And you can’t go wrong with Happy Together. You really can’t. I love that you always include it! It’s never occurred to me that it’s the p e r f e c t found family song BUT YOU’RE RIGHT!!!

    These songs just made me even MORE excited about meeting these characters though!!! Like. If these are their theme songs I know we are in for a treat with them! They seem like the must delightfully chaotic bunch which is my faaaave!

    This was such a blast! Thank you for sharing this goodness with us!!! :D

    I 1000% make a playlist for every novel. In fact, the chances of me enjoying the writing process goes up by like 99.999% if I have a playlist full of music I love and that fits the tone of the book. BUT. I hardly ever write to lyrical songs. I’m an instrumental music gal myself. So I listen to a lot of weird soundtracks and Two Steps from Hell and Audiomachine and that sort of thing. The occaaaasional lyrical song slips in if it fits my story and/or a character to perfection, but otherwise it’s all instrumental for me! I get far too distracted with lyrics, alas. XD


    • MEEP!!!! Oh my goodness, thank you SO much, Christine! I’m honestly so in love with this playlist. It makes me happy every time I turn it on, lol! XD And YES!! Doctor Who music is legit the best. I’m lowkey obsessed? Just a little bit. XD

      I have some other writer friends who swear by listening to music without lyrics!!! But for some reason I just can’t do it??? I don’t know, the lyrics somehow help me concentrate more, which literally makes no sense at all. XD Do you have any of your playlists in a public space, by any chance??? I would LOVE to listen to a Christine playlist!! (and absolutely wouldn’t EVER try to divulge the plot from the tone of the music, no, not at all. XD)

      EEP! I cannot wait for you to be able to meet these characters!! I have a feeling you’re going to love them…. Mwahahaha! XD


  3. I love the vibe of this playlist! Seriously, all the songs are so fun, and I’m definitely going to have to listen to them some more.

    Song for Sienna is so pretty! It’s incredible that you were able to find it again!

    Have you listened to the cover of Who Wants To Live Forever by the Tenors feat. Lindsey Stirling? It’s not as upbeat, but the video is pretty cool.

    Also, I love Michael Buble – especially Save The Last Dance.

    I do make playlists for my projects, but when I write, I usually just pop in a CD. What it is exactly depends on my mood and who’s POV I’m writing from, but it’s usually one of Taylor Swift’s older music, some Matchbox Twenty, or Skillet’s album Collide, mixed in with whatever I’m digging at the moment.


    • Meep!!! Thank you so much!!! I’m legit in love with this playlist. After much practice, I think I’m finally beginning to nail down how to build one that actually works for the story. XD

      RIGHT? I was absolutely in shock. XD

      I have NOT! Oh my goodness, I must look into this immediately!

      YESSS!!! CD’s!! I used to listen to CD’s RELIGIOUSLY when I had my old car and was driving to work, but then I got a new car and didn’t realize that it didn’t have a CD player. So now I’m addicted to Spotify. XD Taylor Swift’s older music is a BOP. I’m currently obsessed with her music, actually. XD

      Liked by 1 person

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