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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Talking a Little Music

I never really considered myself that into music. Sure, I had a lot of CDs and I'm always buying MP3s, but I can't sing worth a damn and my attempts at playing an instrument went nowhere. Not that I didn't try. I attempted to learn the viola, the guitar, the piano, the drums, and I think there's one more, but I can't remember what it was now. I failed miserably at each. I even know why--I never practiced.

I think this is what separates an interest from a passion--the desire to work at the passion. Writing is my passion. From the age of 14, I wrote and rewrote and revised. If my words didn't live up to my standards, I didn't give up. I went back in and worked on it some more, or I chalked it up as a lesson and went to a new story.

With music and art, I gave up when I wasn't immediately good enough in my own view. Yes, I have an interest in both and I wish I could pick up a pencil and draw. I can't. But then I've never taken the time to try to improve. These are interests for me, not passions.

Oops, digressed. Sorry. Anyway, I never considered myself that into music despite my large collection because I'm a passive consumer and I don't even really listen to music all that much. Then I started thinking about it some more. I listen to music a lot at the Evil Day Job (EDJ). Not every day, but I call my iPod "life support." (At home, the laptop is called "life support." ;-)

I also usually have a song in my head, even if it's just a stanza or something replaying itself. This week it's been the Brady Bunch kids singing It's a Sunshine Day. Why? I have no idea. I haven't watched the Bradys in a long, long time.

My books have theme songs. This started by accident. When I was revising my first published book, Ravyn's Flight, I was listening to Devo's Greatest Hits and when Girl U Want came on, I kept replaying it over and over and over. It finally dawned on me that I was looping the song because it fit my book. Ever since then, I've tried to find a theme song for every story.

Sometimes I just pick one because I can't come up with the perfect choice and I don't have time to waste looking any more. So while I list theme songs for Through a Crimson Veil and my story in Shards of Crimson (among others), they don't really bring the book to mind or the characters.

But when a book has picked it's song, it's a completely different story. I can't hear that Devo song I mentioned without thinking of Ravyn, Damon, Alex, and Stacey. And the music can influence me while I'm writing the book. The theme song for book 2 of the paranormal trilogy my agent is shopping right now brings in information on that hero every single time I play it. I know that when I actually grow close to writing his story, I'll have this song looping to get my head into it.

Another example was when I was writing The Power of Two. Whenever I wasn't sure what to do next (and back then, I wrote a lot more seat of the pants than I do right now), I would listen to Corey Hart's Never Surrender. That was Cai's motto: Never surrender. So the song helped me see what the character would do next.

It's not always theme songs either. When I wrote Blood Feud for The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2, Isobel and Seere were listening to Tchaikovsky in her car and I'll be damned if I didn't have to listen to Tchaikovsky, too. The weird thing is that I had to listen to it while I was writing In the Darkest Night, which has no relationship whatsoever with the vampire story. I don't know why, but I bought 3 MP3 albums and shuffled them all weekend while I wrote Kel's book. Kel has zero interest in classical music. He's more Seether and Korn than violins and horns.

And that's the other weird thing--my characters influence me. If they have a word they use all the time, I'll pick it up even if it's one I rarely used until they came in. Same with music. I'd never listened to Seether until Kel, now I have one of their albums and I listened to it just this week. Actually, I'm blaming my heroes for all the hard, edgy music I have now. I have always had an eclectic taste in music, but metal was not something I liked or played. Until I started writing contemporary paranormal and my guys arrived.

It's also interesting that music is more important to my heroes than my heroines. Hmm. I need to think about that. Maybe I have a blog topic for another day.