Martha Brooks on Rhythm and Writing

Martha Brooks is the award-winning author of Two Moons in August, a book about 16-year-old Sidonie, who is trying to cope with the death of her mother without succumbing to OCD like her older sister Bobbi, for whom the kitchen floor can never be clean enough. As the girls struggle with their loss, the jazz music of Bobbi’s boyfriend, Philip, helps ease the longest summer of Sidonie’s life. Martha herself has some experience in the world of jazz music: her music album Change of Heart won the Prairie Music Award for outstanding jazz album in 2002. Martha talked to us about the way that music influences writing. Make sure to check out Two Moons in August for a limited time on Figment

Imagine that you are a novelist AND a jazz singer. Do you think those two careers might intersect? You’d be right if you said “yes.” A dozen or so years ago, I was approached by a jazz pianist and composer, Knut Haugsoen, who had read a couple of my books and also heard me sing. He put two and two together and I ended up writing lyrics for five of his complicated and very beautiful compositions. The result was a jazz album called Change of Heart.

I have always loved and listened to jazz.  In Two Moons in August it was no stretch for me to create the handsome Dr. Philip Lim. He is the jazz piano playing love interest for Sidonie’s sister, Bobbi. He’s also a character that my readers seem to fall in love with, too—a fictional James Dean—who is all over the keyboard with the old jazz standards like “Honeysuckle Rose,” as well as being a good friend to the entire family when their beloved mother dies.

Music imbues everything I write. I NEVER listen to it when writing, however—it’s too gorgeously distracting to my ear. What happens when I write is not only words falling on the page, but rhythm, percussion and (when things are going just right) lyricism!

Girls with grit are fierce, independent, strong young women. They’re girls who face tough situations and sometimes don’t come out on top. They’re girls who work hard, who believe in themselves, and who try to follow their principles.

Groundwood Books’ Girls With Grit series is on Figment because each of these books is about a girl like you, or your sister, or your best friend. We’ll be featuring different books every week, so be sure to check the Figment Features page often!

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