A peek between the covers: Book playlists


Many writers talk about music when referencing their work. I am very guilty of that. Not only do I often count on music to be my muse, I work it into my books in any way I can. Why? Music can so easily elicit mood and emotion in ways the written word alone can not always do. So music will crop up in my novels in the form of a simple mention of a title or artist or, in some cases, I will use lyrics (with permission by the artist of course.) And since music is such a strong influence over me and my work, I thought I would discuss how music worked its way into my currently published titles (and the titles I am working on.)

A Blade Away

If you’ve read A Blade Away you already know there is one song in particular that held a very powerful sway over the entire book. That song was The Flower Duet from the chamber opera Lakme. Not only did the killer use the song during his kills, he named himself after the opera title.

How did this make its way into the book? It was actually an incredible moment of synchronicity. I was working on one of the killing scenes one evening. It was dark and I was alone in the house. As I wrote I had my MP3 player set on shuffle. During a very crucial moment in the killing the Flower Duet started. I continued writing but realized how incredible the¬†juxtaposition¬†was of having the beautiful duet, song by two angelic soprano voices against the backdrop of the killing. After the scene was written, I went back to re-read it and realized how much the music had influenced the tone and flow of the scene. That was it…there was no turning back.

Gothica

There is a lot of me in this book. At the time of writing, A Perfect Circle had released their second recording and I was developing what I hoped would be my finest, most frightening killer to date…Freeney. I fought, for a while, a tough battle of making Freeney truly mad or inspired by “other” forces.

The moment of inspiration hit me one night when I was getting decked out to go to the only Goth club Louisville had at the time. I had the new A Perfect Circle CD in the background playing when the song Pet came on. As I was getting ready I had the book on my mind. I wanted Freeney to be a frightening man on so many levels. My sub-conscious mind must have been paying close attention to the words of the music, because the lines:

Lay your head down child
I won’t let the boogeyman come
Countin’ bodies like sheep
To the rhythm of the war drums
Pay no mind to the rabble
Pay no mind to the rabble
Head down, go to sleep
To the rhythm of the war drums

I’ll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and all your demons
I’ll be the one to protect you from
A will to survive and a voice of reason
I’ll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and your choices son
They’re one and the same
I must isolate you
Isolate and save you from yourself

Really stuck me hard. I realized that Freeney heard the voices claiming they would protect him. The voices developed into the bogeymen which would eventually help give Freeney the power to make it into the present time.

I Zombie I

The first book in my “I Zombie” trilogy wound up being a different beast all together. Although I wasn’t really inspired by any music during the actual writing of the first draft of the piece, the rewrites were heavily influenced by the scores to the films The Uninvited and Let Me In. Both of these scores really helped to set the mood for the work.

My Zombie My

This is the second book in the “I Zombie” trilogy and is about to have it’s first rewrite completed. The take on music here was more tangible in that the main character, Bethany Nitshimi, tunes into a pirate radio station throughout the novel. The radio station, Zombie Radio, mentions and plays numerous songs (titles and artists are actually mentioned in the book.) This tool was an easy means to help foreshadow or set a mood in the story. Some of the songs mentioned are “Everybody Knows” (remake by Concrete Blonde), “Tom Sawyer” by Rush, “Playing God” by Paramore, and numerous other songs (don’t want to give away everything just yet.)

As you can see, music is a very key element for me in my writing. I plan on continuing this thread as new books are started and/or finished. I hope you enjoy this peek under the covers of my work!