Today Alexandra Bracken stops by Laura’s Review Book Shelf to share how The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” helped shape The Darkest Minds, and what song also inspired the name of a certain minivan in the novel…
Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
This is the very first song referenced in The Darkest Minds, though it’s done indirectly. (“Mick Jagger crooned next to my ear, singing about war and peace and shelter—those kinds of lies.”) In this scene, Ruby is being driven out of Thurmond, the rehabilitation camp she’s been trapped in for the last six years and is… a little out of it, to put it mildly.
Because there were so many references to songs in the early drafts of the book—and they had the tendency to be a little distracting--my editor and I decided to pull back a bit and blend some of these references in a bit more subtly. It made a lot more sense in relation to Ruby’s character, too. While she grew up listening to classic rock thanks to her dad, and can generally pick out what band s playing, after so many years, she might not remember all of the titles themselves.
Most of the songs mentioned in the story are from the 60s and 70s, and allude to that period of war and uncertainty. This one is no difference. “Gimme Shelter” is ultimately about the awareness that war is always present in our lives (Just a shot away). This song makes me feel anxious every time I hear it because it builds and builds and builds to this screaming tension. I liked that it reflected the high-pressured situation Ruby finds herself in—that some small problem could get her caught and sent back into the hell she just escaped.
Black Betty by Ram Jam
If you flip through the pages, you’ll find any number of nicknames I’ve borrowed from classic rock, and the name Liam bestows upon their minivan chariot is no different. To give you a little background on the song’s (in my opinion!), it’s a 19th century folk and work song, though there’s quite a bit of debate about who or what “Black Betty” is. The nickname has been given to a number of things throughout the years, including, but not limited to: a bottle of whiskey, a musket, a whip, and a penitentiary wagon. So why the name “Black Betty” for the minivan? Well, in part because when Liam & Co. found the black car, it still had a decal from its former life: Betty Jean Cleaning. Liam has the (endearing?) habit of nicknaming the things and people he likes and want to bring into his fold.
About The Darkest Minds
When Ruby awakened on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." Because Ruby might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby knows that she is one of the dangerous ones and, when the truth comes out, she barely escapes Thurmond with her life. On the run and desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her, Ruby joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what she did to her parents.
When they arrive at the safe haven, East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work too, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. And soon Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
The heart-pounding first book a near-future dystopian series, Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds will leave you begging for the next installment.
Alexandra Bracken was born and raised in Arizona, but moved east to study at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. She recently relocated to New York City, where she works in publishing and lives in a charming apartment overflowing with books. You can visit her online at www.alexandrabracken.com or on Twitter (@alexbracken).
The Darkest Minds Blog Tour Schedule
January 6th: TheSkipKids.com
January 7th: Mundie Moms
January 8th: Laura’s Review Bookshelf
January 9th: The Book Smugglers
January 10th: Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
January 11th: The Book Muncher
January 14th: The Compulsive Reader
January 15th: Anna Reads
January 16th: Emily's Reading Room
January 17th: *Headdesk*
January 18th: BlookGirl
January 21st: Once Upon a Twilight
January 22nd: Sara's Urban Fantasy Blog
January 23rd: Good Choice Reading
January 24th: Novel Novice
January 25: Tynga's Reviews