Emma Brodie’s Songs in Ursa Major is a transporting love story of music, stardom, heartbreak, and a gifted young singer-songwriter who must find her own voice. Shot through with the lyrics, the icons, the lore, the adrenaline of the early 70s music scene—think Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carole King, and all of the prolific artists of Laurel Canyon—Songs in Ursa Major pulses with romantic longing and ambitious dreams.
The novel shares a title with the protagonist Jane Quinn’s iconic album, which we witness the creation of throughout the book. Author Emma Brodie gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the lyrics she wrote for Jane below. For more about Brodie’s inspiration and process, check out this Q&A.
“I loved writing the lyrics for this book. When I wrote the first draft, I just used placeholder text around Jane’s repertoire—I’d literally say ‘lyric x’ or ‘SONG Y.’ Between my first and second draft, I rested the manuscript for eight weeks; but before I put the book away, I went back and made an inventory of all the songs I’d need for each performer. Whenever I’d get the urge to go look at the manuscript, I’d take a crack at one of the songs instead. By this point, I knew what each one would need to accomplish for the story’s sake and had a vague idea of real songs they should mirror. I wrote a lot of the lyrics at 5 a.m., in the blue early morning.”