There has always been a part of me that really wanted to write a fairytale. While I can really lose myself in fantastical elements being twisted into our every day lives as seen in The Monstrum Chronicles speculative fiction series, I’ve never actually sat down and pushed myself to try something completely in the realm of magic. Several months ago, though, I was introduced to a weird and wonderful game called Year Walk by the company Simogo for tablets and phones. The game has since now been made available on Steam. In it, an unnamed protagonist leaves his young lover and goes on his year walk, an ancient Scandinavian ritual that is supposed to help the individual foretell what will happen to them later in life. The games atmosphere is deeply unsettling, fraught with strange mythological monsters and an eerie landscape of snowy woods. The combination of images and the incredibly creepy musical score by Daniel Olsén left me with a taste in my mouth for dark folklore.
Once again, we find today’s subject of Inspiration Through Music is a story-driven, emotional, and beautifully designed game. The Last of Us, which debuted last year for Playstation 3 by Naughty Dog, is among one of my top favorites in video games. The story of a childless father and a parentless girl as they cross a post-apocalyptic America, hiding from people and frightening creatures is portrayed so realistically that it locks you into the gameplay and immediately makes you care about the characters and their journey. And of course, like every other game I’ve mentioned, the music adds an extra layer of immersion to this stunning game. They couldn’t have picked a better composer than Gustavo Santaolalla, who can pinpoint even the most difficult human emotion to emulate through music and make it dig right into you.
Yup, you now know that I’m a Tomb Raider girl. I love absolutely everything about the series and I think that Lara Croft is one of the best feminine heroes ever created. And while the first five games were really iconic and featured lots of globe-trotting, cave-spelunking, yeti-tackling, and deep-sea diving adventure, plus the occasional tomb exploring, my adoration for the series really took off with the release of the sixth title, Angel of Darkness. Unlike most of the other games, Angel of Darkness takes place in only two cities: Paris and Prague. I liked having the chance to stay in one place longer and explore all the different facets of each city, the building tension, and uneasy atmosphere. This game played a lot darker than the previous titles and that also drew me to it. But one of the things that really made me sink my teeth into the game was the music.
As of late, I’ve been busy with thoughts about my comedy, “Night Time, Dotted Line” and the potential sequel for it that has been rolling around in my noggin. When I wrote this book, it was because these characters had been speaking to me since I’d started a book with them close to ten years ago. I knew that I had to write a book with them and that was this book. But, I’d expected them to stop talking to me once I’d finished the book. No such luck. If anything, they are more persistent than ever… I realize that this makes me sound a little like a schizophrenic. Writing does that. Dozens upon dozens of characters begging for attention and wanting to be voiced through you… To make a long story short (too late!), I’ve started brainstorming for the sequel to “Night Time, Dotted Line” and one of the bands I’ve been listening to pretty much non-stop to help with that inspiration is Amarante.
Amarante is a husband and wife indie duo from California that I was introduced to only a few weeks ago by one of the Youtube LPer’s that I follow. He used one of Amarante’s songs at the end of the video and since then, I’ve had their songs playing on repeat on my way to work, when I’m home writing, and even in my head while I’m at my day job. They really know how to get a tune into your head and make it stick. Catchy tunes with intelligent lyrics and a unique pairing of voices. They’ve really pushed thoughts of this sequel into the foreground and made me want to work on it (despite being committed to another project at the moment). They help to take me away from the cold and dark of Midcoast Maine’s winter and put me back in late summer, across the country, in the lives of two very different people who are more alike than they care to admit.Today, I’ll be sharing four of their songs with you and what it is that I see when I hear them. Enjoy!
When it comes to the world of soundtracks for horror video games, there are very few at are as well-known and prolific as Akira Yamaoka, the composer for the Silent Hill franchise as well as other games. Silent Hill evokes an energy charged, haunting aura that always makes one uncomfortable and looking over ones shoulder. With a blend of rock, trip-hop, and ambient that is unlike most anyone’s music out there, he has effectively created a world that we can lose ourselves in when we listen to some of his breath-taking and chilling scores. My personal favorite soundtrack of his comes from Silent Hill 4: The Room, a playthrough that my favorite LPer, HarshlyCritical just finished up. The story line and the twisted antagonist for this title really engaged me as did the various themes heard throughout the various worlds of the game.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve listened to Yamaoka while working on writing projects. I was introduced to his music by a friend in highschool who burned me a couple of the soundtracks to listen to. I knew very little about Silent Hill then, but was still amazed by the music and knew it would be an excellent inspiration for not only my horror titles, but also a historical fiction I was working on and an incredibly secret project which has been in development for several years. Today, I’m going to pick five songs to share with you and tell you what I see when I listen to them. Enjoy! [Just so you know, I had the WORST time trying to pick just five. I had thirteen listed here before...]
Sometimes, I’m glad that I don’t have an infinite amount of money. There are so many brilliantly scored soundtracks out there by composers that should be given more credit than they receive. And I want to own most all of them. There are at the moment over ten that I have listed on my cork board over my desk that are “must haves”. Having been introduced to Spotify over a year ago, I’ve discovered more wonderful composers that I’d never heard of before because of their “related artists” box. One of these is Max Richter.
I don’t remember what I was listening to at the time, but it suddenly didn’t matter anymore when compared to Richter’s minimalist and yet startlingly emotive compositions. The first soundtrack I listened to by him? One for a masterfully created animated film called “Waltz with Bashir”. Since discovering Richter, I’ve listened to him for nearly every project I’ve worked on, the latest being my apocalyptic work-in-progress, Cold Walls, and the upcoming Memento Mori: Book 3 of The Monstrum Chronicles. I find that I’m inspired to write about characters who are forced to do something because of a particularly strong motivation. It pushes them to do things that they normally wouldn’t do but suddenly find an inner courage or impulse that pushes them in a different direction. I’m excited today to share five of his pieces with you and describe to you what I see when I listen to them.
First time I’ve ever cried during a video game. Absolutely bawling my eyes out right now. Damn. The feels. Not only was the story gripping from the get go, the music connected me to this game in a way that brought it to life. It somehow interwove with the characters and the emotions they experienced on their quest to save their father. The game is a one of a kind piece of art, wherein you use the left and right sides of the controller to control both characters. And for anyone who has ever tried to pat their stomach while rubbing the top of their head, you’ll know that it can be kind of tough to multi-task. “Damn motor-skills,” is something that Let’s Player Cryaotic frequently rages about during his walkthrough of this game.
Several of you know that I have a soft spot for video game music, particularly well-composed music from indie games. I’ve done several Inspiration Through Music blogs for game soundtracks such as “Limbo”, “Journey”, “Heavy Rain”, and “The Walking Dead”. Now, I’ve found another that has once again shattered my expectations of video game scoring. This soundtrack is phenomenal in the way each instrument is characterized and the range of emotions that can be felt while listening to the various tracks.
As I sit here on the couch enduring a terrible cold and wishing for the life of me that I had some cough drops, I find myself reflecting back on the books that inspired me to write. Over the last several weeks, I’ve noticed that I am naturally drawn to writing and reading dark fiction, fantasy, and monster genres. Perhaps it is an unconscious desire because that is the kind of fiction I grew up with, the kind of writing that I wanted to be able to imitate but also make my own some day. And while the Monstrum Chronicles and my other projects do have more adult themes, I can’t help but realize now that my inspiration to write these is drawn from five very important authors and their works that I read in my youth. So today, instead of music, I will be sharing with you my top five favorite books from my young adulthood and what it was about them that inspired my current writing style. Enjoy!
Today on a special Inspiration Through Music, I’ll be focusing on the songs that helped to inspire my newest book, Night Time, Dotted Line released today on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. This is my foray into comedy, a book that I’ve worked on for the last two years, slowly piecing together different scenes until they formed a quirky and fun tale of two strangers that decide to take an impromptu trip across the country together. Need a little more? Here’s the official synopsis:
Following a realization that his life has become monotonous after his divorce, Spencer, a lawyer, joins a free-spirited conservationist, Calleigh, on a spur-of-the-moment 3000 mile car trip to an environmental conference in Oregon. Within moments of hitting the road, Spencer’s cynical views on life immediately clash with Calleigh’s upbeat personality. Add Calleigh’s perky Pembroke Welsh Corgi and a cast of eccentric characters including a “soul-serving” diner owner and the insufferable Count Stiltsula, and soon they are in for a journey that just might drive them all crazy.