Novels with original music, and other artistic pairings

One of the novels with original musicI am fascinated by creative works that link two or more types of art. Most often the pairing involves fiction and actual music, but other combinations occur as well, including non-fiction, art, and film. I am not referring to books turned into movies, or vice-versa, but rather distinct artistic works created explicitly to complement one another. Sometimes the works are free-standing (perhaps even created at different times), but sometimes they are packaged together. Not many examples exist, but the past decade has seen a growing interest in such efforts. I was an early innovator who pioneered such pairings with my book and album Song of Fire. Let’s take a look at all the examples I have been able to find.


music noteBook of Hauntings, A (by Jon O’Bergh – 2013)
Five ghost stories in the form of an e-book, with a song embedded in the text for each story.

music noteDamsel Distressed (by Kelsey Macke – 2014)
Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical when pages from her diary that contain her darkest thoughts get exposed. A companion album, Imogen Unlocked, written and performed by the author’s band Wedding Day Rain, complements the novel.

music noteDreamology (by Lucy Keating – 2016)
A YA novel about a girl who meets the guy she thought only existed in her dreams. An original theme song called “Wake Up With You” is available, performed by the author.

music noteExile (by Kevin Emerson – 2014)
A witty and passionate ode to love, rock and roll, and the freedom that comes in the moment when somebody believes in you. Emerson and his band Northern Allies have recorded original songs from the novel.

For a Muse of Fire
music noteFor a Muse of Fire (by Heidi Heilig – 2018)
A YA fantasy about a girl with bipolar disorder who channels the spirits of the dead in a colonized country where magic is forbidden. The songs appear in the text of the book as sheet music. Heilig offers mp3s of the four original songs.

music note and frameForeshadows: The Ghosts of Zero (compiled by Very Us Artists – 2012)
Twenty-eight authors, musicians, and graphic artists partnered to create this illustrated cyberpunk anthology, which comes with a CD soundtrack. Every story is paired with either an instrumental or song and the two pieces of art are intrinsically linked.

Necronomicon, The (by Simon – published in 1970)
The 1924 short story “The Hound” by H.P. Lovecraft contains the first mention of The Necronomicon, a supposed ancient grimoire that features in Lovecraft’s mythos about supernatural entities. His 1938 fragment “The History of The Necronomicon” lays out more details. Since then, several individuals have published books that purport to be this ancient text containing spells to raise the dead and unleash dangerous forces. In 1973, sci-fi author L. Sprague de Camp wrote the intro to a book with that title, which was written in an indecipherable fictional language. George Hay penned a hoax version in 1978. The occultist Donald Tyson compiled his own version in 2004. The most popular version is the so-called Simon Necronomicon, even though it bears little resemblance to the suposed contents of the grimoire as enumerated by Lovecraft.

music noteIdentity Club, The: New and Selected Stories (by Richard Burgin – 2005)
Twenty stories that explore our quest for identity and love, truth and family, as well as darker themes of betrayal and crime. The songs on the accompanying CD, while not directly related to the stories, express many of the same moods and emotions.

music noteMaybe Sunday (by Colleen Hoover – 2014)
A passionate tale of music, love, and betrayal about a girl who falls for her musician neighbor. Hoover partnered with musician Griffin Peterson to produce an original album to accompany the novel.

frameResurrectionist, The: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black (by E.B. Hudspeth – 2013)
Two extraordinary books in one. The first is a fictional biography of Dr. Spencer Black, up to the mysterious disappearance at the end of his life. The second book is Black’s magnum opus: The Codex Extinct Animalia, a Gray’s Anatomy for mythological beasts, rendered in meticulously detailed anatomical illustrations.

music noteShadow of the Wind, The (by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – 2001)
This Barcelona-born author composed complete soundtracks for piano and symphony orchestra for many of his novels before he died in 2020. The Shadow of the Wind is a multi-layered tale about a ten-year-old boy who discovers a shocking secret after picking up a book by an author who seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth.

music noteShatter Point, The (by Jon O’Bergh – 2018)
The owners of an extreme haunt are locked in an escalating battle with a neighbor, while a musician is pressured by his girlfriend to prove himself by enduring the rigors of the haunt. The musician’s band, Lavender Lush, is an actual band with an album available at the usual places.

music noteShockadelica (by Jon O’Bergh – 2021)
Two horror podcasters investigate the history of their haunted apartment building and uncover an evil, existential threat. The album Box of Bones, by one of the characters named the Bone Man, complements the novel.

music noteString Bridge (by Jessica Bell – 2011)
An Australian musician trades her guitar for a “proper” career and motherhood, then yearns to return to the person she used to be. This novel is accompanied by an all-original soundtrack, Melody Hill: On the Other Side, written and performed by the author.


music noteSong of Fire (by Jon O’Bergh – 2011)
The interconnected, real-life stories (with links to original songs) are a rhapsody on the elements that constitute how we experience the world: the moments of humor, sorrow, passion and revelation that give significance to our origins and endings.

Laurie Andersonmusic noteStories from the Nerve Bible (by Laurie Anderson – 1993)
Laurie Anderson released this retrospective from her career as an experimental artist, musician and performer. Two companion CDs followed: Bright Red/Tightrope in 1994, a collection of songs based on stories from the book; and The Ugly One with the Jewels in 1995, a live concert recording of readings from the book with musical accompaniment.

music noteWhy Birds Sing: A Journey into the Mystery of Bird Song (by David Rothenberg – 2005)
Rothenberg, a jazz musician who not only writes eloquently, explaining what we know about the strange structure of bird song, but has composed a CD of music incorporating bird song that is included with the book.


Scene from Hellbendermusic noteHellbender (directed by John Adams, Zelda Adams, and Toby Poser – 2021)
A lonely teen discovers her family’s ties to witchcraft. The film features the experimental punk band H6llb6nd6r, in which the Adams perform and whose music is available for streaming or purchase.

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