Soundtrack Monday: Victorian Vigilante

It’s another Soundtrack Monday!

I just finished the massive revise on both seasons of Hell’s Acre, getting the books polished from zero level–finished, steaming, just having slid free–to submittable draft. The first book’s with the agent now, and we’ll see what she says. If a publisher doesn’t want to get in on the action, it’ll go out through the self-pub pipeline. Either way there’s several more edits, copyediting, and proofing to get through. But the raw creation and first polish is done.

In celebration, here’s Abney Park’s Victorian Vigilante, which a particular fan (thanks, Tal!) suggested very early in the serial’s first few chapters. It’s rather evocative, and is definitely playing when Avery waltzes into the Marauders’ pub to kill McNeiss. I even gave the Rook a malacca cane during the fight, which was all sorts of fun.

I enjoyed writing Avery a great deal. He doesn’t hesitate, he doesn’t sweat the small stuff, and he doesn’t dither about what he wants. The instant he sees Gemma he makes up his mind, and though he’s a product of his environment he doesn’t ever belittle her, or think of her as lesser. Every time some new dimension of her talents shows, he’s just as pleased as if he’d discovered them in himself. Out of all my heroes he’s probably one of the least problematic, even with his, erm, habit of murdering evildoers.

He also has a great sense of style. The cane–snatched from a Dickens reference–appealed to him a great deal, and the instant he saw the wrist crossbow in Rook’s Rose he was like, “I’ll just be taking that, mate, thanks.”

He’s also profoundly lonely when the serial starts. One rather gets the idea he was just waiting to find a lifelong cause rather more solid than mere vengeance, and Gemma happened along at just the right time. Both of them shift names and identities, though Avery is far more practiced. I think he has a more solid core of who he is, which makes it easier for him, but little Beth was raised Respectable and has a wee bit more trouble.

The rest of the serial’s soundtrack can be found here. I think it’s in its final fighting form now, just like the books themselves. Well, that’s not quite precise since the books will have edits and so on, but…oh, you know what I mean. I’m recovering from this round of revision, and my brain is porridge.


Beltane and a Book

It’s Beltane again–not my favorite holiday, we all know what that one is, but a good one nonetheless. And tomorrow will be taken up with the release of Spring’s Arcana.

I’m nervous. Well, I’m always bundle of ragged nerves before a launch, so that’s no change. I did make the playlist for the duology live, so you can listen to the music that informed both books here. (It is Soundtrack Monday, after all.) And of course there’s the Goodreads giveaway if you want a chance to win a copy, and I’ll be attending the virtual launch tomorrow if you’d like to sign up for that.

Most of what I’ll be doing today is prep for the release. There’s a blog post to write, a newsletter alert to put together, a little unboxing and reading to do on Twitch. However, I’ll be spending most of the day sunk in proof pages for an entirely different series, because publishing is like that. By the time a book reaches the shelves, the writer is several lengths down the road.

It’s not bad. It is, however, an exercise in delayed gratification, and human beings are generally not the best at that. I could call it good practice, except it’s so damn frustrating.

Of course, no matter what else is going on Boxnoggin needs his walkies. He got some celebratory Cheetos in his breakfast bowl this morning, which he proceeded to pick out of the kibble and eat with every evidence of enjoyment, leaving the rest of his meal strictly alone. I mean, I don’t blame him–dogs are big furry toddlers, and what child wouldn’t pick the good stuff out and leave the rest? It’s a far cry from when he arrived a few years ago. Back then any scrap of food was manna from heaven. It’s nice that he’s gotten picky; it shows that he knows there will always be more.

With that cheerful thought I should finish my coffee, grab my own breakfast–probably gruel, since the stress nausea is very bad this morning–and get to it. A bit of physically grueling exercise will make everything easier to handle, purging stress chemicals and the like, but first I’ve got to get the rest of the morning out of the way.

It’s pretty hilarious that Nat Drozdova’s story is going live just after May Day. I suspect the new incarnation of Spring arranged as much specifically, with (of course) a nudge from old Grandmother Winter. I’ll be laughing over that today, when I’m not heaving into the office wastebasket with sheer nervousness.

What can I say? I know how to celebrate a holiday.

See you tomorrow…

Soundtrack Monday: Disease

It’s another Soundtrack Monday! This week we’re going old-school, all the way back to the Society series.

Delgado (for all his sins and mine) really liked Matchbox Twenty. I could reliably get into his head playing a couple of their tracks–not to mention a few bits of the soundtrack for the La Femme Nikita TV series, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. One of the most reliable songs was Disease, which still makes him start talking inside my head.

Of course, Del considered himself not just irretrievably broken but also contagious, a feeling helped along by the awe and fear everyone except Henderson (and Yoshi, and later Rowan) held him in. He absolutely considered himself beyond redemption, especially in the first half of Hunter, Healer. I borrowed a lot of Roy Dupuis’s stonefaced suffering from the Nikita series (and Rowan’s hair does come from Peta Wilson’s amazing platinum mane in a lot of that show), but to this day I don’t know where his particular psychic talent came from. In face, I didn’t even know what he actually did until the second draft of the first book.

Naturally I knew he had some psionic ability, but the details were fuzzy. Once he finally opened up and told me about it, things started to make much more sense and his fear of connection was placed in proper proportion.

A lot of that series also came from X-Men fanfic I wrote in my high school days. None of it survives (thank goodness), being safely hidden in landfills, but its ghost is still on the compost pile inside my head. Nothing is ever truly lost, especially in a writer’s head. Stories germinate in a mound of fertile, rotting material left over from other half-told (or fully told, or even just imagined) tales.

I know there must be people whose heads aren’t full of this stuff, but I’ll be damned if I can imagine how that must be.

Anyway, the Society series could go on–there’s Cath’s story, naturally, and later events. Plus the whole shebang is set in the same universe as the Watchers and Danny Valentine; speaking of which, if you look really closely, there are a few Watchers still around in Danny’s time, though Circle Lightfall’s goals have changed out of all recognition by then. But if I went on with Cath’s story a few dreadful things would have to happen to other characters I like quite a bit and I don’t want to write that. So it’s best to just…let things rest, even though I know what happens next.

There’s no shortage of other stories to tell, after all.

Soundtrack Monday: Chevaliers de Sangreal

It’s another Soundtrack Monday! And I have a lovely piece for you today, my friends.

I just finished the zero draft of Rook’s Rose, and this piece was quite integral to the writing of the entire serial. Hans Zimmer is pretty reliable writing music for me, and the Chevaliers de Sangreal track from the Da Vinci Code movie reliably got me into Gemma and Avery’s world each time. It’s a stirring piece, and given that I’m working with some of the same conspiracy theories and historical stuff (albeit very loosely, as usual) it hits a nice sweet spot.

I often see a smoke-and fogbound New Rome while listening to it, perhaps with the Rook and Miss Dove doing their running-across rooftops thing. It’s very cinematic, but there’s also a love theme in it as well. Avery Black knows what he wants very early on in the entire situation, while Gemma takes a while to come around. Mostly because she has her own problems to solve, as heroines do; if there’s music playing during the crossing-the-Channel scene near the end–or the end credits, which I do see in my head for some books–this is it.

Anyway, the whole soundtrack to the serial can be found here. I think it’s achieved its final fighting form since I’m done with the brute creation work of Book 2. And my brain still resembles pudding at the moment, so I’ll stop here.


Soundtrack Monday: Carnival

It’s time for another Soundtrack Monday! I’m getting increasingly nervous over the release of Spring’s Arcana, which is entirely normal. Publishing is such a delayed-gratification game, one has plenty of time for one’s nerves to get frayed to transparency just…waiting.

Anyway, I was thinking about Nat Drozdova this morning. The soundtrack for the books is pretty long, as such things go–don’t worry, come release day I’ll post it so you can listen. But I thought there’s no harm in giving a little taste before then, is there?

Natalie Merchant’s beautiful, lyrical Carnival is a very Young Drozdova song. Her trip across the continent is full of wonderful, terrible, awe-inspiring things; the rhythm also echoes that of car tires on American highways. Everyone she meets has some kind of agenda, even the mortals; she herself feels so disconnected and alien she often simply watches, wondering at the show.

I’ve felt like this myself more than once. As if life is merely a pageant, and I am the scribe meant to witness before distilling. Of course, I’m no divinity…

…but there’s always tomorrow. Honestly, sometimes mortality seems a better bargain than having to bear the burden of personal history. But that’s a whole ‘nother book series.


Soundtrack Monday: Delirium


It’s another Soundtrack Monday! I’ve told you guys about this one before, but I can’t find the exact blog post. Ah well, sometimes one is allowed to repeat oneself.

Way back when I was first writing Steelflower, I had a lot of instrumental music on the book’s playlist. A great deal of Kaia coalesced during obsessive playing (and replaying) of Euphoria’s Delirium through my headphones. (There’s a separate musical group named Delerium, too whose stuff goes on that playlist too. And yes, the playlist is still active, though I might have to dig out a couple old CDs to get some of the older tracks, I think.)

You can hear very clearly Kaia and Redfist’s hasty leaving of Hain–Kaia light on her feet, loping through city streets at dawn with a barbarian giant rumbling in her wake. You can even sense the point at which Kaia bribes a postern-guard to let her and the big red one out early, and they’re vanishing down the road into the countryside with that peculiar ground-eating stride all sellswords learn. I think Redfist has no idea the trouble he was saved by landing in the Steelflower’s capable (though occasionally light-fingered) hands that morning.

I’m thinking a lot about Kaia and her crew lately, and selecting yet more music for the series’s master playlist. But first, the zero of Hell’s Acre has to be done…

Soundtrack Monday: Chrysalis Heart

Welcome back to another Soundtrack Monday!

This week, it’s a book I haven’t posted the official playlist for–oh wait, I just did! Enjoy.

Of course Delerium is always good for a nice beat, but sometimes they hit one out of the park with the lyrics too. Whenever I needed to know what Michael would do next, I spooled up their Chrysalis Heart and there it was. Naturally he was also a fan of the Black Keys (especially this track), since he’s an obsessive weirdo, like so many romantic heroes. (Great in fiction…not so good in real life.) Jenna’s far more practical.

Even with all the diaboli, it’s a very sweet little adventure. My favorite part is the feathers, and how cagey Michael is about where they come from. I also really liked Jenna’s determination to be as good as possible under the circumstances. It was fun to work on the book, and I felt like I’d done something worthy when it was over.

I still have to write the next adventure for my good friend Dina. I’m thinking a paramedic will almost run over a very odd fellow–probably a Decurian, because they’re stodgy, which makes them fun to break apart. But a plain old legionnaire with Decurian tendencies might be nice too…

…of course, in all my copious spare time. There’s at least five more books to write before I can even think of it. I keep juggling stories, now until world’s end.