July 5, 2022
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
K.B. Jensen's collection Love and Other Monsters in the Dark is filled with stories both surreal and captivating.
Kathy Fish wrote of the book:
"K.B. Jensen's newest book, Love and Other Monsters in the Dark, is a delicious, delightful, chilling thrill ride of a story collection. On full display in these pages are Jensen's sense of the weird and the uncanny and her unsentimental, though wholly accurate view of the human condition. Here, you'll find zombies and bank robbers; a woman who dreams of Alex Trebec; poison where you least expect it; murder, mystery and mayhem. These stories, some only a few paragraphs in length, are deft, sprinkled with dark humor and brilliantly crafted dialogue. I came away from this collection in awe of Jensen's storytelling chops and sheer imaginative prowess. Highly recommended."
When I was writing Love and Other Monsters in the Dark, an eclectic mix of short stories in a variety of genres, there were some songs stuck in my head on a loop. In this book, you’ll find serial killers, dark angels, monsters of all kinds, and more normal narratives about the horrors of everyday love, so expect a strange mix of music. You won’t see me wearing headphones while writing, but that doesn’t mean the music isn’t playing in my head. Music influences the mood or tone in my writing. I’m often inspired by other types of art, and that definitely includes music. Here are some songs that come to mind.
1. Concerto in D Minor, Op. 7, No. 4: I. Adagio, by George Frederic Handel
I used to call Handel “pretty music” when I was a tiny, and I still think it’s pretty. I actually prefer to write with music without words that I can understand when I do turn it on. I also find the tone of this piece matches the first story, “A Siren in Stone,” where a woman excavates bones from the walls of a 17th Century villa. And I love the transition to the next song… because I think it’s funny to go from Handel to Bangles, but perfectly natural when you look at the mix of stories in my book.
2. Just Another Manic Monday by the Bangles
Some of my characters struggle with their mental health, so my weird humor comes into play here. You could make an argument that a character in one or two of the stories may or may not be in the middle of some kind of manic episode. I’m not trying to be flippant about mental health. Mania is serious and requires medical attention, of course, but sometimes you have to find the light side in things and just dance.
3. We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel
“We Didn’t Start the Fire” actually inspired my story, “Arsonist Housewife.” I was playing with the idea that you can’t use song lyrics in a book without getting permission, which is notoriously difficult, so I wrote my own satirical lyrics by having the character botch the song she had stuck in her head, terribly. The result gets laughs, especially when I perform this story live. I’m not a good singer and neither is the character, thankfully.
4. Walls by the Lumineers
There are two stories that reference walls in this collection, the “A Siren in Stone” as well as “The Wall” with the children fleeing a war in the United States to Mexico. I also think some of the metaphorical elements of this song jibe with the stories about relationships.
5. 1-800-273-8255 by Logic, Alessia Cara, Khalid
Again, some of my characters sometimes struggle with their mental health, but I put this one in because of “A Rescue,” about a woman contemplating suicide. I like the hopefulness of the song’s ending and the fact that it points people in the direction of a resource, even if it’s just one. Things get better, especially with help.
6. Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles
I actually played this son on a loop for during the pandemic and the election, because you have to have hope, even if hope seemed exhausting at the time. There are some stories that are tearjerkers and others that are more playful in this collection, with dark humor thrown in. I think it’s important to balance the light and the dark. “Grandma” would be an example of a story that’s more light-hearted. It features a woman who wakes up and discovers she’s turned into her grandmother overnight. Her doctor suggests moisturizer…
7. Purple Rain by Prince
I’m originally from Minnesota, so Prince is the soundtrack of my childhood and a part of my identity as a Minnesotan. This song relates to the stories about complicated friendships and relationships. It’s also just a great song.
8. I Follow Rivers by Lykke Li
This is probably what I would play during a zombie apocalypse, assuming Spotify still works during a zombie apocalypse. The final story of the collection “Arnav and the Apocalypse” begs the question, what would a zombie apocalypse do to your relationship? For Arnav and his girlfriend, the things that used to stand in the way don’t matter anymore. But there are plenty of new obstacles. There’s a dark and light side to devotion, and I like the ominously beautiful tone of this song.
Award-winning Author K.B. Jensen’s new collection of short stories, Love and Other Monsters in the Dark, is out. She has two novels, Painting With Fire, an artistic murder mystery, and A Storm of Stories, which veers literary and handles love, craziness and impossibility. Painting With Fire has been downloaded over 75,000 times. K.B. lives in Littleton, CO., with her family. She teaches skiing and writes poetry. A former journalist, K.B. is a senior publishing consultant and writing camp director for My Word Publishing. Her work has appeared in Cherry Magazine, Progenitor and other publications. Visit www.kbjensenauthor.com.