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: 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.


Edging In With the Lake

I’m edging back into piano practice again, and it feels good. Of course, every time I play this I expect to see a red-eyed Natalie Portman, but that’s a price one pays.

I want to finish this book of exercises and go back to doing Bach. Next year I’ve got to start working seriously on my Goldberg Variations Before I’m 50 bucket-list item, so it would be good to practice before then. And a session after dinner starts the evening most agreeably; it forces my brain into a different mode that makes it easier to not-work before bed.

Bonus bit: Long-time readers will know I put a Swan Lake reference in the Valentine series; it was super fun. I did have thoughts of doing a short story with a psion bounty hunter who also dances, but it died on the vine. Probably for the best, the last thing Danny needs in her life is to shoot someone in a tutu.

It’s almost the weekend, my dears, and the holidays are almost over. We can do this.

Over and out.

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.

Soundtrack Monday: You Belong to Me

Viral Agents

I graduated high school in the mid-90s, so of course I have strong feelings about Eddie Vedder. (See also: hackey sack, Dave Grohl, hairspray for bangs, flannel button-ups, vodka, Manic Panic, and Seattle as a whole.)

That being said, I bought Vedder’s album of ukulele songs because the Into the Wild soundtrack was actually really amazing, and his plonky rendition of You Belong to Me with Cat Power made Reese from Agent Zero sit up and take notice.

It was hard to find songs for Reese, because he doesn’t have the relationship with music I do–or indeed, most normal people do. Most music, in his opinion, is just noise used to cover a job. He’d be hard pressed to answer what kind of music do you like because he’d just shake his head and say whatever Holly does. In his mind, music’s a human thing, and he’s not sure if he qualifies. Which just about breaks my heart, sometimes.

Still, when Reese heard the ukulele and Cat Power’s deceptively simple backup he actually liked it. Well… liked it? Hell, I couldn’t get him to shut up afterward. Afterward, I could reliably pry his lips open with a good ukulele session.

I’m not sure Mr Vedder would approve, but he’s got at least one fan living in my head. I’ve even almost forgiven him for the mumbling delivery of Jeremy spoke in class todaaaaaaaaaay that filled every. single. radio. airwave. for about eight months in high school.

Almost forgiven. The album still gives me full-body shivers, and no ukulele will make that go away. It’s not Vedder’s fault that so much of my teen angst was set to it, though.

Anyway, enjoy!

Soundtrack Monday: Oo-de-Lally

I’m finishing up the zero draft of HOOD‘s Season Two this week, so this Soundtrack Monday will reflect that. HOOD owes a great deal to many retellings but the sheer zany joy of Disney’s is what I return to when the others get too bleak, and I often find myself humming pieces while I write. Chiefly Oo-de-Lally, of course, Alan-a-Dale as a strutting, gittern-plucking rooster enchanted me as a child.

I can still hear Little John, each time I see a feathered cap or a longbow–Pretty hard to laugh, hangin’ there, Rob. Or Prince John, moaning Mama!; Sir Hiss the snake minister fills me with both hilarity and dark foreboding. Fortunes forecast, lucky charms!

I also sang Robin and Marian’s theme to the kids often as a lullaby, while rocking in an old squeaky chair I had also rocked my sisters in. (Love, it seems like only yesterday…) But today, it’s Oo-de-Lally all the way, especially since I have to figure out what Robb gets caught for to end Season Two.

If you’re curious, I have a whole playlist for the serial. It’ll change as we head into Season Three, of course–the whole game is getting more serious, and Marah’s faced with a jailbreak (Giz and Alladal may have to team up for that one) and having to rescue King Richard (who has hopefully learned a lesson or two about haring off when he’s needed at home, kthxbai) to boot.

All in all, Season Three will be a challenge of the sort I like best. But for today, it’s a musical interlude with a singing rooster, a pair of foxes, a wolf in a doublet, and anything else the stew inside my head bubbles over with.

Oo-de-lally indeed. Golly, what a day.