What I’m Listening To

A photograph of a cemetery at dusk. Several headstones (black and white) donned with crosses stand in a cemetery among several tall tree trunks. In the distance, the sun glows orange in the horizon.

I’m nothing without my playlists. While there is some overlap in themes and artists in these four playlists, each project has its own feel unique to the character(s) who narrate them.

You may use the menu below to quickly access the playlists that inspired each of my books. Each will play previews of each song.

Since Spotify is committed to spreading disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, I have deleted my account, and I’m now working on building these playlists on YouTube… very slowly…

A photograph of a cemetery. Two stones in the foreground read "HOWELL." Old small stones lay behind these. The sky is pale to the point of being white, and teh grass is very green.
Mount Pleasant Cemetery – Center Moriches, NY

Death Rattle

Told from funeral director Neil Aldridge’s point of view, this Death Rattle playlist draws inspiration from his love affair with darkness and introspection. Some of the music serves as the soundtrack to the time he fell in love with his wife, Annabel–VAST, Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan. However, most of it is a reflection of their own failures of faith and in achieving the American Dream.

A close-up of a canvas besmeared with rainbow colored paint, which blends into each other.


Occupying the same timeline as Death Rattle but told from Stephanie Valentine’s perspective, Tertiary is, in some ways, darker than its counterpart. This playlist is suffused with the profound longing and loss of Steph’s decades-long struggle with identity and self-acceptance as a lesbian coming of age in the ’90s–and with letting go of the people who she loved too dearly and lost–family members (alive, estranged, dead) and lovers.

This playlist benefits from angsty ’90s and ’00s rock and grunge–Garbage, Nirvana, Third Eye Blind, The Cranberries, Fiona Apple, Incubus, Coldplay–the ethereal voices of London Grammar, Field Divison, Imogen Heap–the love-drunk pleas of Sixpence None the Richer, Radiohead, Cigarettes After Sex. This playlist is the bile in Steph’s entrails, the bricks in her pockets, the venom in her heart.

A close-up of piano keys besmeared with all colors of paint.

Danse Macabre

Last but not least–Danse Macabre. The third installation of the Death Rattle Trilogy finally allows us to understand the intricacies of our three protagonists’ interwoven pasts from the source. Annabel Burton Aldridge is finally granted the chance to invest in her sculpture and painting, but the weight of her responsibilities to her family threaten to demolish the weary foundation she and Neil have worked so hard to maintain. Anna’s despondency and disquietude takes root in the emphatic works of Camille Saint-Saëns and Philip Glass. Her moments of pleasure are inspired by Washed Out and The xx.

Another character’s narrative will harmonize with Anna’s, complementing our heroine’s meditations on found families and family-making. An artist in her own right, this yet-to-be-announced character negotiates her own identity to the compositions of Dustin O’Halloran and Claude Debussy.

Danse Macabre is an intimate back-and-forth between artists, between motherless daughters, between aching, searching souls.

A photograph of an open paperback book, held open with a pair of glasses. Beside it is a flowered teacup filled with coffee. These objects sit on a round wooden tray, and the tray sits on a table, which is covered in pale blue and white linen. Behind the objects are two white vases, filled white and lavender lilac plants.

Lilac Project

The Lilac Project (Title TBD) is still very new, hence the short playlist. Two queer grad students–one with a mop of lilac hair and the other with a penchant for brazen flirting–grapple with what it means to be oneself in the age of “Diverse Media,” especially when these images are narrow-minded and backward-looking.

While this piece is only 10 pages so far, its lifeblood is Washed Out’s Purple Noon album and the Sapphic sounds of Sarah McLachlan.

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