A long, long while ago, maw riting 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.
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.
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!
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!
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.