Music is Her Muse: Tama Leia Shares Her Secret Lyrical Crushes & Inspiration for Her New Novel


 Novelist Tama Leia has curated a beautiful, lyrical albeit unofficial soundtrack for her thrilling new novel. She just finished giving the most exquisite interview in the January/February 2022 issue of Je Suis magazine where she tells the world even more about her novel La Femme de Troye whichis quickly becoming one of the most anticipated books of 2022. 

Her book follows the life of the main character, Leila Marlowe who is trying to find her way back to her fiancé Troye McAvoy. 

The book starts with Leila being taken from her New York City brownstone in the middle of the night by US soldiers. She willingly goes with them because of the imminent danger in the city. They take her to a colossal ship anchored in Southhampton with the city’s most prestigious and brilliant inhabitants. As the story unfolds Leila finds out they are all being transported to a secret island for safety. The military has been preparing the island as a possible new civilization in anticipation of a world war.  For months leading up to this night, New Yorkers saw their rights as citizens slowly being taken away and the city changing in alarming ways  — military men and cops suddenly policing the grounds day and night. Then on the fateful night their beloved city turning into a war-zone-type atmosphere before their very eyes: Helicopters flying overhead. Fighter drones, explosions in Central Park…

Now on their way to the secret island the ship’s inhabitants are in a state of shock. They are so used to their familiar lives in the city with modern conveniences that it takes a while to adjust. Even so, they know that they are the lucky ones being spared from the dangerous city that has suddenly become an Orwellian nightmare. 

The story cuts back and forth between two perspectives. 

Troye is still in New York. He is a film actor, but is also a US Ambassador and is very involved in helping with worldly issues. His presence is needed in the city to help the military with strategic planning to acquire diplomatic relations amongst nations. 

The refugees learn to live on the secret island. It becomes their world for years. As time goes by they start to lose hope and wonder if they will ever get back to the lives they used to live or if the world has changed forever.

Tama’s music choices are beautifully curated for each chapter.  “Music is such a big inspiration for me. I use music as my muse for every story I write. I can feel the words in my heart and I can feel my story coming alive. A lot of the music for this particular story is soft, some soulful, some melodic. And even though there’s a lot of action in this book somehow the soft symphonic melodies and haunting echos help create the mood of the story for me.”

The artists and songs that Tama Leia listened to: 

Cigarettes After Sex: Apocalypse, Nothings Gonna Hurt You Baby, Keep On Loving You, Starry Eyes

Emma Peters: La misère est si belle

Victorine: Désunis de lunivers

NAYAD:Red Carpet Sand

070 Shake: Morrow

BORNS: Bye-bye Darling

Laura Cahen: Poussière

Emma Peters, Leo Kodian: Magnolias for Ever

ZAYN: Fingers

Mehro: Perfume

Cigarettes After Sex: Falling In Love

“The last song I listened to while I wrote the ending of the book is called, Falling in Love. It’s about long-distance love. In the song the couple would go on dates even though they were in different cities. They would watch the same movies and imagine they were holding hands through the whole film. I didn’t find this song until I was ready to write the ending of the book and then somehow it appeared on one of my playlists. After I discovered it I had it on repeat for weeks.” 

Tama is surprised at how much attention her novel has been getting and she is incredibly honored that she has been given the chance to share her first chapters with so many interested people.  

She seems very comfortable with her position as a storyteller and being able to communicate her truths as an artist to the world. In her heart she knew she would someday make this happen. And happen it did just as naturally as a summer rose in bloom. 

One of the messages in her book is that no one is free until we are all free. (She clarified her message by pointing out that the state of affairs across the world effect us all to some degree, no matter what is happening it all connects.  She believes we all have a responsibility to help make changes for the better….”we all have power to create change, more power than we may realize.”

This reminds me of an interview with Jay Z in the New York Times where he talks about similar ideas and solutions, especially in terms of not anyone is free until all of us are free. Tama agrees with that wholeheartedly.“There are a lot of issues that are important to get into communication about and having a platform to speak from is the start in which the conversation can begin.”

Tama’s book is subtle in the way political issues are presented. She sticks to the entertainment element rather than getting too bureaucratic, but it’s still a book that makes the reader think. A call to action and drives home the point that future is in our hands.

Styled by L’étoile

Makeup by Daniel Shia

Photo by Tim Sabatino

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