Quotes · The Last Time We Were Us

How one music lyric served as the jumping-off point for The Last Time We Were Us


I love listening to pretty much all kinds of music, go to lots of shows, and refuse to believe that 31 makes you too old to camp out at festivals (hello, Bonnaroo!), and so it’s no surprise that for me, music and writing would influence each other.  I may not have made any music myself since I was an awkward middle-schooler rocking out on the tenor sax, but I do use music as inspiration for my novels.

And in no case has this been truer than with The Last Time We Were Us. I love Arcade Fire and have for years, and in my opinion, very few albums are as perfect and raw as Funeral, back from 2004, the first song, especially. Every lyric in Neighborhoods #1 is probably worthy of its own novel, but this one has always stood out for me:

And if my parents are crying, then I’ll dig a tunnel, from my window to yours.

I loved the idea of two kids who rely on each other when they’re going through tough times, be it family drama or personal loss or what have you. I loved the image of a neighborhood being covered in snow and one person digging a tunnel to be with another person.

When I first got the idea for The Last Time We Were Us, it was immediately obvious that the heart of the story aligned with exactly what I liked about Arcade Fire’s lyric–the idea of relying on someone close to you, someone in your neighborhood, when times get tough.

In The Last Time We Were Us, Liz and Jason are there for each other since they’re young kids, until one day, they’re not. There might not be a literal tunnel through the snow, but there’s a figurative one, that’s for sure. And I may have needed a whole 300-plus pages to express what Arcade Fire could in one image, but that’s okay. It’s the difference between music and books–one distills emotions, one draws them out.

Anyway, as part of a blog tour last month, I put together a playlist inspired by The Last Time We Were Us, with Neighborhoods #1 kicking it off. Enjoy, and happy reading, writing (and listening!).

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