Thursday, May 07, 2009

Thursday Tunes: The Soundtrack and other inspirations for Let It Ride

Jillian Burns discusses the music inspiration for her new novel Let It Ride and why sometimes it pays to go to Vegas.




I’m always curious to learn what sparked the idea for a particular book. Over the years when I’ve asked that question of authors, I’ve received answers as varied as, “an article in a magazine”, or “These people I saw in the mall.” Then there’s usually a “What if” moment.
For LET IT RIDE my initial inspiration was a movie called DOGFIGHT starring River Phoenix.
Marines, about to ship out to Vietnam in 1963 San Francisco, hold a contest to see who can bring the ugliest date to the party. The purpose—consciously or subconsciously--is to make sure they don’t get involved with someone since they might not make it home alive. But River’s character ends up falling in love. It’s a wonderfully romantic love story. And I thought, What if a modern day military officer rolled into Vegas and had a similar contest with his buddies? But the challenge was get the “Ungettable” girl instead.
But if I was going to have a hero do such a jerky thing, he’d have to have a really good reason, otherwise he’d be unredeemable. I knew I wanted my story set in Vegas and started researching the city. I discovered Nellis Air Force base is only 8 miles north of the city and that is where an elite team of instructors teach fighter pilots air combat. And that was it. What if my hero were a daredevil fighter pilot who couldn’t fly anymore? An adrenaline junkie who’d lost every outlet for his passion. But one.
My hero was inspired by Eric Bana and I pictured him riding a big Harley and wearing a black leather jacket. Then a few months later, a movie came to theaters called LUCKY YOU.Hey! There was MY hero, in Vegas, riding a motorcycle just like my fighter pilot! I bought the Lucky You soundtrack as soon as I could and listened to it every day as I wrote. The song LET IT RIDE by Bryan Adams was the inspiration for my title.A few other songs made their way into my story’s soundtrack. Chris Daughtry’s CRASHED is my hero’s, Major Cole Jackson, anthem.And WHAT IF YOU by Joshua Radin from the movie Catch and Release was one of the songs I played while writing love scenes.
And purely to put me in a Vegas frame of mind, I listened to the soundtrack from OCEAN’S ELEVEN.
Of course I had to take a trip to Vegas. I’d never been there before and I felt it was crucial to get a feel for Sin City for myself. Purely for research purposes, I promise. (wink) My fave hotel was the Venetian, with the Paris coming in a close second.

I’m giving away a DVD of the movie LUCKY YOU or a copy of my Harlequin Blaze, LET IT RIDE to one random commenter today. Just let me know, have you ever been to Vegas? And if so, which hotel on the strip is your favorite?


Let It Ride is Jillian Burns first Blaze Romance and promises a wild ride of passion set in Vegas!

41 comments:

  1. I haven't been to Las Vegas but it's something my husband and I want to do someday. But I can't wait to read your novel set there - what a great premise for a romance!

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  2. I have never been there but I would love to see it one day. Congratulations on the new book!

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  3. WoW! I thought I was the only one who has never been to Vegas!!

    The one wit the Pyramid looks awesome!

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  4. Great post! I especially liked the clip of Lucky You - I'm gonna have to get that to watch. LOVE Eric Bana.

    I went to Vegas a few years ago - have to say though the Strip is not my thing. We stayed at the Excalibur (we had the kids with us) and did the "other" stuff besides gambling - took in a show, played in the pool, went to Hoover Dam and explored Red Rock.

    I LOVE military heroes and I'll bet the book's AWESOME.

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  5. Oh and I forgot to mention I LOVE Daughtry and I was wondering what to listen to today - gonna pull out my CD.

    D

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  6. I have never been to Vegas. I would love to go some day. Congratulations on your new book. Love the cover.

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  7. Hi Jillian. Great blog! Looks and sounds like you had a great time researching for this book! I've never been to Vegas - or the USA for that matter - but it is on my list of things to do. Would love to visit Vegas and catch some of the shows as well as the casino's. Take care. Caroline x

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  8. Hi Allison, Maureen, Laurie,
    I had never been before this past Nov 08 either and I'm forty-mumble mumble. We didn't gamble either. Saw a wonderful Cirque de Solei show called Zumanity --the erotic side of Cirqe. Also saw Wayne Brady--he was on that Drew Cary show called Whose LIne, the hilarious improv show, and he did a similar thing in his show. He was really funny. And Debbie Reynolds was sitting in the audience right behind us!
    Thank you for coming today and celebrating my first Blaze with me!

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  9. Donna! We stayed in the Excalibur also! My husband appreciated the beautiful waitresses' uniforms. In fact, he considered it his duty to help in my research to find the hotel that sported the waitresses with the uniform that showed the most cleavage. Is that dedication and support or what? (wink)
    And yes, Eric Bana was my inspiration for Cole. Yum!

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  10. Thank you, Crystal and Caroline,
    I would love to travel outside the US someday. Love to see Europe. It's on my bucket list.
    Crystal, is Vegas on your bucket list? I've never been to New York either and it's on my bucket list.
    Last year I got to check off another goal from mine: Disneyworld! Finally got to go and take the kids. And this summer, the National conference of the Romance Writers of America is in DC and I'm going. Never been there either. I'm getting there early to do a little sightseeing. I can't wait.
    I wish you both happy and safe traveling in this world.

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  11. I liked Paris or the Desert Inn (it's gone...the Wynn is there, now). Very quiet...I do Vegas a little differently. I like sleep. Husband likes to stay out all night.

    Katie

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  12. Congrats on the book!!!

    No, I have not had the opportunity to go to Vegas. Would love to someday. Have a great day.

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  13. Looks like I'm in the majority - I haven't been to Vegas either. And I thought everybody has been. Not sure if it's my scene or not. Not a fan of crowds (I shop early around holidays or have to psych myself up to go when I know it is going to be crowded).
    I commend you on your 'research'!

    MarcieR

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  14. Right now, Katie, sleeping sounds heavenly. I'm afraid I stayed up too late last night writing.
    Thanks for coming by!

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  15. Actually, Marcie, it wasn't too crowded when we went. First, to get a better price, we went from Wed- Fri, so we missed all the weekend crowds, and also, we went in NOvember. Not a big holiday month to begin with. It was not too hot, not too crowded, it was just right. :)
    Oh, and PS to Katie,
    I LOVED the Paris hotel!

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  16. Ooh I adore Vegas! I'd ALWAYS wanted to go and finally went last November. It's one of the only places in the world that has not only lived up to my expectations but exceeded them :)

    My husband and I stayed in Circus Circus because it was the cheapest and we'd already spent a fortune getting married and going on honeymoon elsewhere earlier in the year, but my favourite hotel on the strip was the Bellagio. Watching the fountains to the tune of 'Time To Say Goodbye' on our last night was magical. As was being in the front row at the Tom Jones concert at the MGM....but that's a different story!

    Love the sound of your hero, especially the Harley Davidson! Yum!

    Sabrina xx

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  17. Hi Juliet,
    Congrats on the release of your first Blaze. I went to Vegas for a wedding. We stayed at the Paris and it was beautiful. Our friend is in the military so we got to Nellis and shop at the base exchange.

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  18. I've been to Vegas (waves hand in the air). I stayed with my best mate at the Flamingo on one of our road trips, because they were doing a special offer and Gladys Knight and the Pips were playing there. We didn't actually see Gladys as the whole 'dinner show' thing felt a bit like sacrilege. I mean imagine listening to Midnight Train to Georgia over your your steak and chips? We just couldn't disrespect Gladys that way (and we also couldn't afford a ticket).

    I did like Vegas, but personally I have more of a soft spot for Boulder City which was wonderfully low key (and ever so slightly low-rent). Particularly the themed honeymoon motel we stayed at (yeah, the clerk thought it was a bit weird too as we'd left our husbands at home) which had a desert shiekh room with plastic gems stuck on the gold lamed ceiling. We were in kitsch heaven and for only 60 dollars a night.

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  19. I have never been to Vegas but maybe someday. Your book sounds awesome as does the movie "Lucky You". Hope to experience both soon.

    Cheryl S.

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  20. Can't wait to read your new book. Just finished "Let It Ride" and I loved it. I've been to Vegas so many times I don't remember how many! I love the place. My husband isn't crazy about it so the last few times I went, I went with friends and to tell you the truth, it was much more fun!!!

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  21. Hi Sabrina!
    We watched the Dancing Waters in front of the Bellagio our last night also. It was the last son g of th enight--right at midnight and it was TIME TO SAY GOODBYE! I guess that's always their last song of the night? But it was magical. So cool we had the same experience!
    Thank you for stopping by here today!
    Juliet

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  22. Jane!
    I wish I could have toured Nellis AFB when I was in Vegas! How fun! How did you get on base? Did you have to know someone? I wouldn't have had time anyway, we were only there 3 days, but I didn't even think to attempt to go there. Cool!
    And I LOVED the Paris hotel. We--of course--rode up the Eiffel Tower.
    Thank you for posting here today!
    Juliet

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  23. Heidi,
    Themed Honeymoon Motel? Desert Sheik Room? Rhinestones glued to a fake gold Lame ceiling? Can I use this in my sequel to LET IT RIDE please? That's just priceless!
    THank you for posting!
    Juliet

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  24. Hi Cheryl,
    Good to see you here! Thank you for coming by! I lDrew Barrymore and she's really cute in this movie.

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  25. I've been to Vegas and loved it. We stayed at The Stardust if I remember correctly. This was in 1985 or thereabouts. I would have loved to stay at Caesar's Palace back then. Must get your book and bring back certain memories.

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  26. Hi Danna!!
    Good to see you here!!
    My sisters and I (I have 4) along with my mom, take a weekend every year away from hubbies and kids. We shop, we get facials, we go to chick flicks, we sit in the hot tub. It's wonderful. So, I definitely know what you mean about having fun without hubby.
    Thanks for posting here!
    Juliet

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  27. Hi! Congrats on your first Blaze--how exciting! Thanks for sharing about how it came about--it's always fun to get a peek into the inspiration :) As for Vegas, yes, I have been there a couple times. I haven't stayed at the Bellagio, but loved seeing their water show, and it was fun walking through the shops at Caesar's Palace and watching the "sky" change. And it would be fun to take a gondola ride at the Venetian (although probably not quite as amazing as taking a gondola ride in Venice!) :)

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  28. Hi Robyn,
    The Stardust, huh? What was that like? Seems like the 80s was before Vegas changed into more of a "family oriented" place. More like during the old Rat Pack heyday.
    Have you seen any of the Ocean's remake movies? If only Brad and George were in Vegas all the time...

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  29. Hi Flchen1,
    Thank you!
    I loved the gondola ride. SO romantic. And just being inside the Venetian, omg, it's so gorgeous! I HAD to write about it in Let It Ride. We saw the pirate show, and 3 stage shows, plus went up to the tower. We packed a lot into our 3 days and 2 nights.
    Thank you for posting here!
    Juliet

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  30. Great give away! To answer your question, no I have never been to Vegas, but would love to go. I would be broke afterward but it would be a lot of fun!

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  31. Hi Virginia,
    I've always been afraid I would lose money gambling because I tend to have an addictive personality. But I gave myself a strict limit of $20 and I ended up winning about $180 in the slots. I was so proud of myself. Course hubby was with me. Would I have stopped if I'd been alone?

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  32. I've never been to Vegas. Maybe someday I'll get there.

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  33. Hi Juliet,

    Better late than never. I had to stop by and put in my $.02 worth. We've been to vegas twice so far and I can't wait to go again! Maybe I'll take a page from some of you ladies and leave the hubby home next time and go with the girlies! hehehe.

    I also loved the movie Lucky You. So much I had to buy my own copy. I take any chance I can to visit Vegas any way I can, so books and video work well when I'm short on time and money.

    We stayed at both the Excaliber and the Luxor. My dream visit places me in the Mirage or maybe the Mandalay Bay. Maybe someday...

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  34. Hi, just wanted to drop a line - never been to Vegas, would love to go one day because I am a card shark!!
    Just wanted to say from all the music you listened to, I LOVE Bryan Adams, and Daughtry - great sounds for a great start to some amazing stories in Vegas.

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  35. Juliet - I had to pop back in. Are we twins? Top of my list is Europe...

    But the last few years we too did Vegas, and Disneyworld, and Nationals being in DC was a major reason I chose to go this year!!!!!

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  36. Chey, I hope someday you can go. It's not somewhere that was on my bucket list, but I really did have a good time. It was exciting. And now I can picture things when my mother talks about it. :)

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  37. Hi Pamela,
    You stayed at the Luxor? Oooh, how was it? I'm telling you, a girls' weekedn away every year makes me a better wife and mother.
    LUCKY YOU is definitely on my keeper shelf. Eric Bana is so yummy. Have you seen the preview for the next movie he's in with Adam Sandler? It looks like he plays the buffoon. Not cool. But he sure was sexy as King Henry VIII.
    Is the Mirage where the white tigers are that belonged to Seigfried and Roy?

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  38. Alexandria! Next time you go, call me! I'll help be your lookout for the guy they send to break your kneecaps once you start winning big. (giggle)
    And yes, I love Bryan Adams and Daughtry also, even though I'm mostly a Country fan, I really love all kinds of music. Jazz, classical, and even some hard rock sometimes. I'm not so much into rap, but my son is and every once in a while I'll hear something coming from his i-pod earplugs that I like. Yes, he keeps them up that loud. I keep telling him he's going to be deaf before he's 30. But what do moms know??

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  39. Wow, Donna! Maybe we ARE twins! Are yougoing to be in DC, then? Let's try to meet.Do you have a picture and a website? email me if you want julietburns@gmail.com
    See you there! And thank you , everyone for stopping by today and posting!

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  40. Hi Jillian! I've not seen that movie and since I can't hear music I usually read lyrics to understand some. Which song was it from the soundtrack that pulled you the in for writing your Blaze LET IT RIDE. Love to look up the lyrics!! Too set in Vegas, cool! Its great meeting you! I've read many blazes but haven't had the joy to read yours yet so I'll have to change that soon!

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  41. Caffey,
    I love to look up lyrics too!
    I'll email you privately with all the lyrics to the songs I listened to the most, if you want.
    Thank you for posting here!

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