The Music of Release Day

So today, the third Tufa novel, Long Black Curl, hits stores and devices. The pre-release reviews have been good ones, and that’s always a comfort. But the finally judgment really comes from the people who buy it. Hopefully, you.

Like Wisp of a Thing, the prior novel in the series, this book also features song lyrics by contemporary indie artists. Here’s the story behind two of them.

“Paranoid,” by Alice Peacock

Originally I’d hoped to use a different song, one from a major artist, to express the emotions of one of the main characters. But although the artist approved, I was unable to work out an arrangement with the label, publisher and management. This was an artist I still admire, and truthfully I was certain I’d never find another song as perfect. But then I started searching, and discovered Alice Peacock’s “Paranoid.”

I found it on the Real Women, Real Songs Facebook page. This group challenged female singer-songwriters to compose a new song each week based on a prompt. In this case, the prompt became the title, and the song is a marvelously clever paean to the surprising intensity of unexpected love.

What got my initial attention was the rolling ragtime piano, so fundamentally different from the soft acoustic guitar or gentle keyboards of most of the other submissions. Then as I took in the lyrics—the part I could really use in the book—I realized how perfectly they fit the character. As with so many things in life, the initial defeat turned into a much better triumph. Now I can’t imagine another song serving this purpose.

Luckily, Alice was excited about being included, and okayed the use of her song. And therein lies the advantage of working with indie artists: they don’t have “people” who complicate things. I asked Alice, she said okay, and that was it. And I am amazingly grateful.

You can find the officially released version of this song on her new CD, Live from SPACE.

“Valiant and Fury Girls,” by Lou Buckingham

As part of charity auction, I offered to mention the folksong of the winner’s choice in the book. I hadn’t planned on actually quoting the lyrics or making it a major part of the story; instead, I planned to literally just mention the title in passing. But when the winner sent me an mp3 of Lou Buckingham’s unreleased “Valiant and Fury Girls,” I realized it could also work perfectly in the story. So I contacted Lou and, like Alice, she was gracious enough to let me use it.

The interesting quirk in this is that is was only months later that I found out Lou is actually the aunt of one of my best friends in town. It’s a small round world sometimes.

“Appalachia,” by Josiah Leming

And finally, the first lyrics you’ll encounter in the book are an epigraph courtesy of Josiah Leming. Josiah is a Tennessee native like me, with four EPs and three full albums to his credit. His song, “Appalachia,” provided the lines that I felt set the mood for the story to follow, and like Alice and Lou, he was kind enough to let me use them.


These three wonderful artists now join Jennifer Goree, Kate Campbell, Andrew Brasfield and the members of Tuatha Dea in the exclusive “honorary Tufa” club. If you like the stories and novels, I hope you’ll seek out the music and support them.

And I hope you enjoy Long Black Curl.

2 Comments on “The Music of Release Day”

  1. Hi, Alex,
    I stumbled across “Long Black Curl” on my local library’s “Top Picks” shelf last week and could not put it down. I then went back and devoured the other two. The Tufa series calls to something inside of me that I cannot name, but when I read these books, I felt like I had come home.

    Likewise, I want to thank you for introducing your readers to Tuatha Dea. They are awesome, and I can’t wait until they are in the Chicago area, as I will definitely support them.

    A new fan,

    Annette Evans,
    Chicago, IL.

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