Soundtrack Monday: Boy With a Coin

Gallow & Ragged

The first scene I ever had of the Gallow & Ragged books was the pike-vs.-knight fight in the beginning of Trailer Park Fae. As with any endeavour involving the Good Folk, music was a necessity, and Robin in particular needed just the right songs.

There wasn’t much music for Gallow at first–most of the light and rhythm went out of him when Daisy died. But slowly, he started to open up to me, and all of a sudden young Jeremy had a ballad, Iron & Wine’s Boy With a Coin. (The video’s pretty stunning, too.) That was also when I knew exactly what had happened between him and Alastair, and how it affected both of them.

There is no enemy like he who was once a trusted friend.

I knew exactly how the trilogy would end the moment I wrote the first words. It was a long, strange ride to get there, almost as wild as Unwinter’s Hunt itself. And every time I grew discouraged, a bright feather would cross my path, or an echo of unearthly song, and I’d know I was committed until that end.

Sometimes a story possesses one, in the old pagan sense of having a genius or daimon. It’s always best to continue such things to their natural end, for unfinished they tend to turn on their creators. Still… when it’s over, one can’t help but feel a sweet piercing pain, and all the songs that coalesced into the book soundtrack express that longing in one form or another.

Enjoy.

Soundtrack Monday: No Difference

Blood Call

A long, long while ago, my writing partner and I were at a restaurant, and our server’s name was Josiah. It’s an old-fashioned name, and delighted both of us. Somehow during dinner, we both promised (each other, of course, the server was oblivious) to write a book with a Josiah as a character.

Blood Call was mine. It started with the name, and a single image: an old-fashioned (so to speak) flip phone vibrating on a ruthlessly clean desk and a man standing in shadow across the room, staring at it like it was a venomous snake before he lunged to pick it up.

When I was interrogating Josiah about the phone and why it was so important to him, Everything But the Girl’s No Difference cued up, and suddenly he started talking. You fix a drink, because it’s time to drown... the clock speeds up, and it slows right down

Anyway, Kit Marlowe showed up way later in the game, and a great deal of time later than that the book was bought, but its inception was a dinner with one of my favorite people and a single word, a name. Of course, I write books at the least provocation, but this one’s origin story is rather sweet, I think.

Enjoy.

Soundtrack Monday: Into Something Good

Strange Angels

Sometimes a character requires the most outlandish things. For example, Christophe Reynard in Strange Angels has an extremely narrow musical taste–as in, it pretty much stopped changing when Buddy Holly died. Doo-wop and be-bop, in his opinion, will never die.

The fellow considers Herman’s Hermits, while somewhat late to the party, the absolute acme. So much so, that the very first scene I tried writing from his point of view is Christophe in a grocery store (right after the first time he’s met Dru) humming I’m Into Something Good. It didn’t make it into the finished book–the entire Strange Angels series is told from Dru’s POV, but sometimes I wrote small scenes from other characters just so I could figure out what indeed was happening.

Of course, the song playing during those few short but extremely intense moments of his and Dru’s first meeting (the one that ends up with Christophe catching a shotgun blast courtesy of our favorite svetocha) is, of course, Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat.

He’s a funny fellow, Christophe is, but I guess when your murderous, sociopathic dad’s the current king of the vampires you can be forgiven a few quirks. Psychological standards for djamphir, he would say, notwithstanding.

He might even, being Reynard, say it with a small, fanged smile.

Soundtrack Monday: Pumped Up Kicks

It’s another Soundtrack Monday! Today’s track is Foster the People’s Pumped Up Kicks, which is what’s playing on the jukebox inside a pool hall near the beginning of Nameless–my retelling of Snow White.

That song in particular was for Nico, who is not quite a Prince Charming. For one thing, Nico’s a Family boy, and Family is forever. For another, Nico also has some rage issues, and an important part of the book was the protagonist deciding that Prince Charming could do his own fucking emotional labor, she wasn’t going to anymore. (I almost felt like cheering when that scene arrived in its final form.)

Nameless was the first of what I call my Human Tales–retold fairytales, basically, where I aim for the heart of whatever story has its claws in me. It’s also important that in the books, Cami, Ruby, and Ellie save each other in turn. It’s not up to a man (or boy) to do so; the saving grace lies in the friendship of three girls on the cusp of adulthood. That’s one thing I had to fight for–my first editor got it, though, so I felt comfortable sticking to my guns all the way down the line (through several orphanings, I might add) when the Powers That Be, Marketing Or Otherwise, wondered if I couldn’t bring the romance just a teensy bit forward.

I could have told them to save their breath. Men don’t save teenage girls; teen girls save themselves.

Anyway, listening to this track will give you Nico’s anger and the rhythm of a pool hall, violence just under the surface of an ordered game. Enjoy!

Soundtrack Monday: Boom Swagger

Ever wonder what’s playing in my head when Jill Kismet walks into the Monde? It’s Boom Swagger Boom, by the Murder City Devils.

I’m pretty visual as writers go; I see the action in my head and can stop, freeze-frame, swing around (bullet time!) to examine different angles, the whole works. I actually wrote Hunter’s Prayer first, followed by Night Shift when my editor said “but how did Jill meet Saul?”, and the very first glimpse I had of our dear Kismet was her walking, hipshot and dangerous, into the Monde to serve justice–and, not so incidentally, to thumb her nose at Perry.

It was a long weekend, I’ve received quite a lot of bad news, and I’m not recovered yet, so that’s where I’ll leave you, dear Reader, listening to the boom and the swagger. Enjoy!

Soundtrack Monday: Sleep

Selene

I’m getting back in the habit of sharing the music behind some of my books. I tend to listen all day, every day, and certain songs weave themselves into scenes and characters like kudzu through a fence. (I won’t be doing full soundtracks anymore, the ones I’m working on now can be found on Spotify.)

Today’s track is the Dandy Warhols’ Sleep, which is the track expressing (part of) how Nikolai feels about Selene. He’s not quite human anymore, having been alive a very long time; someday I might tell the story of how he dealt with the interregnum between Selene’s escape and her return to Saint City.

Anyway, if you want to know what was playing in my head while I wrote Selene sending her hated, absolutely necessary lover to what she thought was eternity, this is it.

Associated Disruptions

It was a long strange weekend, but at least I got all the housecleaning done. And thanks to the fireworks ban, both the dogs and I were quite calm all the way through. There was artillery in the distance, certainly, but we didn’t have any mortars popping near the house, which I am devoutly grateful for.

Also, I’ve been experimenting with BookFunnel. The first half-dozen or so chapters of Harmony are available for free download here; when HOOD gets its wrap cover and begins wending its way through the last quarter of the publication process there will be a free teaser for it as well. I might put some other freebies up, just to see how they do and if they drive interests to other titles. Might even put up a Freebies & Swag page, but I need to think carefully about whether or not I want the deluge of entitled demands it might spark.

I also spent the weekend polishing off a few books–reading, not writing. The Coldest Winter and The Coldest City, as well as a graphic novel adaptation of The King in Yellow, kept me occupied for an afternoon; I also finished James Holland’s The Rise of Germany and polished off two Christine Feehan novels. The last are like crack, I can’t read just one, kind of like Shannon McKenna novels. Now I’m on to a history of the Byzantine state, which is filling certain lacunae in my understanding of just how things were administered in the late Roman empire.

What I wanted was to get a few more chapters of Season Two done, but the Glorious Fourth and associated disruptions put paid to that little dream. But I got the revised cover list off to the artist, and there’s plenty of time for everything that needs to get done for the next couple books.

I’ve spent a lot of time these past few days thinking about growing up, logistics, rain, how to get a prince back to his homeland, whether or not I want to write The Highlands War, whether or not I truly want to write Hell Tide, how I’m going to get Maid Marian dancing with Prince John, genetic plasticity, and a whole host of other things I’d put on hold to think about after HOOD‘s Season One was sorted. Now all those things have come back to roost and I must give each the time they demand, from a few moments’ worth to a day or so of concentrated thought while the rest of me goes about the business of living.

It’s a form of mental housekeeping. Plenty of writing is keeping the creative cauldron bubbling at a certain pressure so the steam moves everything through one’s internal tubes. Weird facts, historical narratives, tangential fiction–all these things are fuel. So is the habit of observation when I have to leave the house, storing up notes on how these human creatures behave.

Can’t write what you don’t understand or observe. It’s probably the only use of my over-sensitive empathy that won’t drain me to transparency and leave me day-drinking. (Of course, I can’t drink without getting hives now anyway, but you know what I mean.)

In any case, today is for getting a needle back in the groove of work. There’s Incorruptible to revise and HOOD‘s Season Two to pile bricks for, and Hell’s Acre to think about. I’m pretty sure the last will be the next serial, which will be super fun to write. I always did like steampunk.

I hope your weekend was pleasant, dear readers, and that there was a paucity of artillery in your neck of the woods as well. I’ve got a bellydancing bagpiper to listen to while I write, and honestly, since my coffee is staying down, I really can’t imagine anything better.

Over and out.