My favorite kinds of novels involve the protagonists falling for each other amid danger, destruction and high stakes. Hiding out in abandoned buildings and sketchy motel rooms, hoping the bad guys haven’t caught up yet (like in Falls the Shadow by Stefanie Gaither)? Tending to each other’s wounds as the world falls apart (as seen in Delirium by Lauren Oliver)? Trapped in the middle of a laser maze that only one of them can see (like I wrote about in my debut Latium)? Sign me up. I’ve read about so many lovers on the run that I’m not sure I’d know how to fall in love without a bad guy chasing after me. This is a theme that shows up in my writing pretty constantly, so I’m always on the lookout for inspiration for my next tale of danger. And as you may have picked up on through my playlist series, one of my biggest sources of inspiration is music. Sometimes, when I listen to a song, I instantly want to write a scene of lovers ducking into an abandoned building or catching their breath while tangled in each other’s arms. Today, I’m sharing ten songs that inspire me to write about lovers on the run.
Hotels was the inspiration behind this entire playlist. No, seriously! This song combines the “trapped together” trope and the “we’re in danger but we’re in love so nothing else matters” trope (not sure if that’s a thing, but if not, I made it up just now). Some of my favorite lyrics from this song are “we’ll take them all down…my back’s against the wall, now.” Tell me that doesn’t conjure images of two young lovers running from the world and into each other’s arms. Oh, wait. You can’t, because that’s exactly what this song inspires.
As I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE Smallpools. And the first song of theirs that I loved was Dreaming. Dreaming launched Smallpools into the spotlight back in 2013 when it the addictive song hit #1 on HypeMachine. The lovers in the song can go “all night right here between [the] crossfire.” Though they feel like they’re trapped in a nightmare, they have each other. Like the lovers mentioned in Dreaming, many of my favorite literary characters, both ones I’ve written and ones I’ve read about, run from gunshots that fly through the air and survive impossible odds. When I’m writing an action scene, Dreaming is definitely one of my go-to songs.
It took me a while to get into the 1975, but now that I have, there’s no going back! Their song Chocolate was one of my first favorites, and it still is to this day! This song has a lot of Bonnie and Clyde vibes, as the protagonists of the songs are villains with “guns hidden under [their] petticoats.” There’s something so interesting about a villain or villains as the protagonists of a story. And though this isn’t something I’ve written about yet, Chocolate certainly makes me want to!
The only thing I might love a little bit more than music is a good dystopian novel. Some of my favorites, like The Uglies by Scott Westerfield and Divergent by Veronica Roth, involve the protagonists sneaking out after hours in their overly-controlled, oppressive society. With lyrics like “There’s a war we can’t ignore, waging silence on our lives / We will overcome, let the cowards run and hide,” this song speaks to escaping from danger and using the cover of darkness to meet up with a lover.
Strong Hand, the song that contains the titular lyrics of Chvrches’s album The Bones of What You Believe, is one of my favorite Chvrches songs of all time. The whole song is dark, sparkling, and screams action or sci-fi romance. It also speaks to a love interest who’s a little bit dangerous. Maybe he has a troubled past, or he was the one that pulled the hero or heroine into their predicament. Maybe the protagonist finds themselves questioning if their love interest is the one they should be afraid of rather than the bad guys who are chasing them down. I love the way this theme comes into play in YA novels like Divergent and Shatter Me. Can you trust Four? Can you trust Aaron Warner Anderson? I love reading the protagonist puzzle it out.
Like many of the songs you’ve seen on my playlists, I discovered this song when it was featured in one of my favorite movies. That movie was Divergent, and this song plays as Tris and Four escape the city together. Literally everything about Divergent, from the book to the movie to Tris’s tattoos that first inspired me to get tattoos of my own, inspires me to write. And the soundtrack is a huge part of that. If you’re feeling low on inspiration for an action sequence or romantic scene, I highly recommend giving the Divergent soundtrack a listen.
Though as you may be able to tell, I’m partial to SciFi romance, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy an action-filled contemporary romance every so often! Red Lights is this playlist’s ode to running away from a small town or bad situation to explore the world with someone you love. Just imagine: packing a backpack with a few outfits, a granola bar, maybe a flashlight, and then driving to pick up the love of your life for the adventure of a lifetime. Not only does that sound like something I’d like to do at least once in my lifetime, but it sounds like a really fun scene to write, too. BRB.
I’m a sucker for literally any song that mentions the stars. How many books have I read where the protagonists lie together under the stars, pointing out constellations and breathing in the night air? Many. So many. And I love it. There’s something so magical about a place away from streetlights, a place where you can hear the rustle of the grass underneath your feet. We Won’t Sleep makes me think of a long road trip after which the lovers in question pull their car over to the side of the road and take a moment to just breathe.
Jumping state lines is a pretty common theme in stories about people on the run, and the protagonists of the song Heartlines do just that! This song makes me feel giddy for all sorts of reasons: the aforementioned state-line jumping, the mention that the narrator doesn’t always “play nice,” and the hint of a road trip beginning at midnight. From beginning to end, the beautiful lyrics scream secret lovers’ getaway.
This awesome song literally starts out with a sound clip of someone running and breathing heavily. The lyrics talk about a city crumbling to pieces around the narrator, which, as you may guess, reminds me of some of my favorite SciFi books and movies. Overall, The City is one of my favorite songs on this list: it has great lyrics, a killer beat drop, and is definitely a song that I listen to again and again and again.
Whether you’re writing a heart-pounding, runaway romance or are looking to capture the feeling of your favorite ship, this playlist is a great way to remind you that sometimes, the most exciting love is on the run. You can listen to the full playlist here.