Soundtrack Monday: Perry, in Love

Yesterday, the iTunes algorithm kept trying to force Pink Martini’s Amado Mio on me until I broke down and listened to it. Now, I love Pink Martini with the flame of a thousand suns… but so did Perry from the Kismet series.

The first bars of Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love send a chill up my spine, because I could reliably play it and Perry would lift his head in the Monde, smiling his bland, appreciative smile. It’s what’s playing inside his hellbreed head when he’s strapped into the metal frame and Jill’s at work with the knives.

I suppose it doesn’t help that in my head Perry looks a lot like a young Max Raabe, especially in the short story where he meets Jack Karma. Raabe in a tuxedo with his hair slicked back is exactly what Perry looks like when he’s wanting to impress, look harmless to, or seduce someone. Of course I know Mr Raabe is a nice fellow and Perry only chose that particular form to send s shiver through me…

…but it worked. It worked really well.

Enjoy the music, my friends. I know Hyperion-Pericles-Perry does.

Soundtrack Monday: Helena Beat

I listened to a lot of Foster the People while writing what I call the Human Tales, which the publisher insisted on tagging Tales of Beauty and Madness. (But the covers were beautiful; it’s a shame the books didn’t sell very well. Teen readers liked them, adults did some pearl-clutching, you know the drill.)

Foster the People is very much the music Ruby likes while driving like a bat out of hell, even though her beloved Tommy Triton is more like a mix between them and Daft Punk’s Instant Crush. One particular song, though–Helena Beat–was very much Cami’s. I took a sip of something poison but I’ll be all right…

Working with fairytales was… troubling. The stories are deep and they are bloody; one had best be prepared to face one’s own demons when invoking them. Behind the driving beat of many songs I loved when I was young lies a great deal of loneliness and uncertainty, too. Helena Beat came too late for that, but I could recapture some of the feeling while listening, especially when Cami visits the club with Tor, or when Ellie finds just a moment of peace in her busy day while the music is turned up, or while Ruby is driving fast to escape her own fears.

When you’re new, and terrified, and your heart is in your mouth because pure youth is telling you you’re immortal but you can’t imagine living forever with the pain of what adults are doing to you every day, the beat that picks you up and shakes you out of yourself is a blessing. It gives you some small space to breathe, and sometimes that space is the difference between being broken and surviving with at least some psychological integrity.

A lot of my books are, deep down, about how to survive. A lot of the music I love is about finding a fraction of joy if one’s forced to live under a terrible regime. When I was very young, enduring the indignity of living required any joy I could lay my hands on, in books, in music, anywhere. It was a necessary inoculation against the despair of trying to survive an inhospitable environment (to put it lightly).

Turn it up, feel the beat, shake the world. Remember feeling young, both immortal and vulnerable?

I do. So let’s dance.

Soundtrack Monday: Chrysalis Heart

There were a lot of songs on the Incorruptible playlist. (I am now hearing Pete Puma say “a whoooooole lotta lumps.”) But pride of place for that particular book has got to be taken by Delerium’s Chrysalis Heart.

I listen to a lot of Delerium while writing. Sometimes it’s just background, but other times a song will slide through my ears and pierce the throbbing heart of a story, and this was one of those times. I had Michael Gabon first, of course, Jenna had to hang back and see if she could trust me before she’d consent to let a few scenes be told from her point of view.

Reliably, though, I could pop some Delerium on, wait for this particular track, and Jenna would come creeping softly like a stray cat from her hiding place. Patience was rewarded, for once–give her time, Michael kept saying, but dammit, I had a book to write.

In any case, I’m trying to shoehorn another Legion book in this year’s schedule. There’s a certain sassy EMT who knows to keep her mouth shut when strange things happen, and I think a certain Decurion’s going to stumble across her. Those two just need to marinate a little longer before I can find their through-line, I think.

In the meantime, enjoy the tunes.

Soundtrack Monday: Wondering Where the Lions Are

Welcome to another edition of Soundtrack Monday! We’re doing this song again, because last time was just a short skim.

Plus, I was looking at old book soundtracks this morning, and came across Carcajou, which is what I wanted Weasel Boy to be titled. (Even I understood Weasel Boy wouldn’t be quite be, uh, romantic.) It eventually ended up as Taken, which was all right… but in my heart, it will always be Weasel Boy.

And one of the first songs on the soundtrack is Bruce Cockburn’s Wondering Where the Lions Are. Cockburn excels at finding warmth and gentleness even in the worst of situations. (He also did the fantastic If I Had a Rocket Launcher, which is not gentle but is very understandable.)

Much of Zach’s tension and growth in Weasel Boy comes from him finding out where his particular lions are, so to speak. He knows what he has to do, he’s just… afraid. When you know that your anger literally will not let you stop until you’re dead or victorious, you learn a healthy respect for that anger–and an unwillingness to let it rule you. This is at the heart of many (though not all, by any means) modern werewolf or shifter stories, a lesson quite unlike their “original” meanings.1

I’ve often held that werewolf and vampire stories, like many myths, are somewhat blank screens for us to project our own cultural anxieties onto, and they survive in direct proportion to how well they adapt to that projection.

Which is why they’re so much fun to work with, frankly.

Anyway, Wondering Where the Lions Are is a beautiful song, and even though Cockburn probably wouldn’t like the use I put it to, it’s fabulous material. I suspect he might think it’s a serious song meant for serious things instead of for a romance novel, but there are plenty of serious themes in romance novels, even this one.2

Zach knew he was strong enough, that wasn’t the problem. He suspected he wasn’t gentle enough, and the tension in the song between living in a war zone (polished and precise like the mind behind the gun should be…) and finding a moment of beauty and clarity (But some kind of ecstasy’s got a hold on me…) resonated with both me and the imaginary hero inside my head.

Anyway, I could natter on forever about the mythological, psychological, and musical underpinnings of Weasel Boy, but there’s work to be done and more stories to tell. Enjoy the tune, and have a lovely holiday Monday.

Soundtrack Monday: Erase, Rewind

Selene

Monday here is quiet except for the rain, and very cold. I just finished a rather difficult revise on The Poison Prince, book two of what I call Hostage to Empire–the publisher calls it something different, but I don’t let that trouble me. Today, therefore, is somewhat of a two-fer, but not in the usual way.

The Cardigans’ Erase/Rewind figures on not one but two of my book soundtracks. First, it leapt onto the very first book soundtrack I ever did, for smoke. It plays as Rose is frantically scrambling to escape things she can only vaguely sense after the murder that kicks the book into high gear; then it cropped up on Selene‘s soundtrack as she tries so hard to swallow her grief and unravel the mystery of Danny’s death.

Very few songs make it onto two soundtracks; this one was a surprise to me because I rarely listen to the Cardigans at all. But it’s catchy, and it speaks to all of us, trapped as we are in a flow of time only going one way. There’s also a certain sadness in both characters–no matter how hard Rose or Selene wish for it, they can’t go back.

Nobody can.

Enjoy the tunes, dear Readers. I’ll be back on the usual schedule tomorrow.

Soundtrack Monday: Take Me Out

The Society

It’s a brand-new year, and time for another Soundtrack Monday! Today we’re visiting the Society series–in particular, Hunter, Healer.

I did a fair amount of research on Vegas casinos for the scene where Rowan and Delgado finally see each other again. And while writing their reunion (bullets flying, adrenaline roaring, homemade Molotov cocktails) I listened, over and over again, to Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out.

I know I won’t be leaving here… with you.

Delgado is an interesting case; he and Preston (from The Marked) center on the human hunger for touch. Delgado can’t touch anyone mentally without excruciating pain, Press can’t touch anyone at all without draining them. When you find someone who can give that most important, basic thing–sheer simple contact–all of a sudden the world reforms and priorities reshuffle.

It’s probably my massage-therapy training that makes me focus so much on touch. (That, and the fact that human contact was perilous at best for most of my own life.) Anyway, this is the tune that particular shootout in Vegas is set to in my head. The ability to mentally set a casino on fire was, I’m not going to lie, extremely satisfying while I was writing it.

Enjoy!

Soundtrack Monday: If I Ever Lose My Faith in You

The Demon's Librarian

If The Demon’s Librarian were ever to be turned into a movie, Sting’s If I Ever Lose My Faith in You would be playing over the credits. It’s largely Ryan’s song.

Who am I kidding? It’s only Ryan’s song. Chess is a very musical creature, though, and her tastes are pretty eclectic. She might even turn this up on the radio while the two of them are on vacation. (That’s what happens in The Lawyer and the Demon, Chess and Ryan are heading off for vacay in Hawaii, leaving Charlie to keep the city together.)

I’m sure that if Ryan heard this particular song he’d freeze, trying to figure out what that feeling in his chest is. You know the one–when a song is speaking directly to you, when an artist has managed to pierce the last veil between two human beings and articulates secrets you’ve kept even from yourself.

Anyway, Ryan’s found the battle he doesn’t mind fighting for the rest of his life. The Order and the Malik have lost him for good; his division-of-one has its banners flying for only one thing, and that’s Chess. Of course, he’s been around a while, and seen some history go bad. Never seen no miracle of science/ That didn’t go from a blessing to a curse…

Which reminds me, I should dust off the quarter-draft of The Lawyer and the Demon and perhaps do some kind of halfass outline. I might have a space on next year’s working calendar to stick that, and it would be nice to work on something I enjoy right down to the ground. Ryan thinks that if Charlie starts showing signs of Phoenicis talent, the two sisters might well turn the city into a smoking crater, and Ash agrees.

You haven’t met Ash yet, but if I get that damn book done, you will. I think you’ll like him. Anyway, though, his song is different, and we’re talking about Ryan.

Enjoy your week, my dears. I hope you have something to have faith in.