At least once in your lifetime, you’ve put on the radio in your car or on the internet or your digital music player and went about your daily activities. Somewhere within the mix of songs you listened to, there came that one song, the one that made you stop and listen in awe to it, one that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It impressed you, thrilled you, made you want to listen to it over and over again. Years ago, I found that feeling with Austin Wintory’s soundtrack to the game “Journey”. It was plaintive, arresting, and called to a deeper part of me. Now, I’ve found a similar impression again with Wintory’s soundtrack to the game “Abzu”.
This week, I’ve fallen in love with a new and beautiful game called Unravel by Electronic Arts. In it, you play as a little anthropomorphic yarn boy named Yarny, who traverses a picturesque world of fond memories. There are lots of violent video games on the market right now, so it always makes me feel warm and tingly inside when I’m introduced to something that is based around a unique and more wonderful idea. The idea in Unravel? To reconnect, whether it be with the past, or with people you’ve lost touch with or with places you’ve begun to forget about. It’s a magical and refreshing experience, one that I haven’t felt since I first played Journey.
Unravel’s soundtrack is a collaboration by two Swedish musicians, Henrik Oja and Frida Johansson. The nostalgia present in each track, blended with the stunning visuals of the game makes one feel as though they are really running along the seaside, exploring mountains, and sailing through the treetops. Not only is it immersive, it also easily makes you feel lost inside each narrative that Yarny traverses. Today I’ll be sharing four songs from the unofficial Unravel soundtrack and writing what I see when I listen to them.
When I grew up, I was one of the Trekkies. I loved anything and everything Star Trek but I had a respect for Star Wars and the world and characters that George Lucas had created. This year brought the series back to life with the latest (and greatest) in the Star Wars story, The Force Awakens. Having not watched The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi, I was missing pieces of the story and worried I wouldn’t be able to follow it. Thankfully, The Force Awakens was easy to follow, had a collection of fantastic characters and locations, and a plot that kept me guessing what was going to happen next. Most of all, I was impressed by John Williams new score. There were many times while watching where I was actually drawn to listen closer to his compositions and found them stunning and beautiful.
HAPPY NEW YEAR (a bit late) and welcome to the Monstrum Chronicles blog! Here’s hoping you all had a fun and festive holiday season and a wonderful start to the new year. 2016 promises to be an exciting year! I’m looking forward to making a few changes in my writing career as well as here at the blog and in my personal life as well.
First off, I would honestly like to be able to attend a few more shows this year in lieu of the fact that they are the best way to get my books into reader’s hands. 2nd, I’d like to focus on trying to market my books to a few more brick and mortar businesses here in Maine. I’ve been a salesperson for several years and yet it’s always so much harder when you are trying to sell something you’ve created yourself. This fear has made it difficult for me to take those steps forward. Not this year though. I’m going to give it my all here.
Read on to find out what 2016 has in store for the Monstrum Chronicles blog!
It’s the end of 2015 and with that revelation, I’ve decided to go through and list some of my favorites of the year starting with music! For long time subscribers to the blog, you’ll know that I have done a weekly blog for music that is inspirational to writers. It’s most often music that I’ve found from video game soundtracks or ambient/instrumental composers. This year, I wanted to list my top five favorites that I’ve listened to while writing. (Note: these are my personal choices and they’ve all been released in 2015. If it wasn’t released this year, it doesn’t make the list!)
#10: Dying Light Original Soundtrack by Pawel Blaszczak
Why: As a big fan of Blaszczak’s soundtracks for “Dead Island” and its sequel, I was extremely excited to hear what he’d be doing with “Dying Light”. The soundtrack for “Dying Light” is a perfect mixture of thoughtful isolation, of tension and terror. It differs from the Dead Island soundtracks by incorporating a bit more synthesizer into it, making it feel a bit more technical and almost CSI-like. Several of the tracks were very similar which doesn’t lead to much variety. Thing is: that consistency makes it a PERFECT soundtrack to listen to while working on any police procedural, detective story, or crime drama. It’s also great for any urban paranormal stories you might be working on. Track picks:Horizon, Invitation, Demolition, Now They Are Coming, Praise the Sunlight, Breakdown
Undertale was something that honestly passed me by at first. I missed the initial hype about this game. I am so, so glad that I didn’t let it slip by completely. Undertale tells the story of a human falling down a hole into another realm ruled by monsters. After a feud several years prior, monsters were banished underground by humans and have been searching for a way to pass through the barrier. The human naturally also wants to find a way through it to get back home and so embarks on a journey to get there, encountering oodles of odd characters along the way.
How would you capture the depth of the ocean in your writing? How would you creatively sculpt its darkness, its mystery, its vastness, and its beauty into words? How would you even go about composing such a piece? Everything about John Luther Adams “Become Ocean” does this. There is a natural grace, a gentle ambiance, and an escalating reverence that perfectly captures how mankind loves, venerates, disrespects, and is in awe of the ocean. But the song isn’t just about what the ocean is; it is about becoming it. It’s about transforming and transporting.
I was lucky enough to have been introduced to “Becoming Ocean” through the Discover Weekly playlist in Spotify, an online music program. The playlist updates weekly, introducing you to 30 new songs each Monday. Last week was when I was graced with “Becoming Ocean”. It is a collaborative effort of composer John Luther Adams, Ludovic Morlot, and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
Two weeks ago, I came to the somewhat depressing decision that I needed to rewrite my book (again) from the beginning. And shortly after starting the rewrite, I stopped and started the rewrite again. I’ve probably done this ten or so times with this book. But now, I really feel like I’m in the right place with it. The Wild Dark has been a difficult write for me in many ways that I thought Memento Mori (my latest release) was. The Wild Dark deals most importantly with friendship, loyalty, humanity, depression, and loss. The protagonist longs for a simpler life, a way to lose herself in ordinary routines so that she doesn’t have to face the death of her best friend and failed relationship with her fiance. This all happens in the wake of a supernatural event that brings a strange transformation to the world she knows and loves.
Like all of my stories, I have a playlist of songs that I listen to when working. For this particular story, I have two: one featuring music with lyrics and one without. The without list is long and from the very beginning, has featured music by respected composer James Newton Howard. The most featured of his music is from M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village Soundtrack, which (in my opinion) has some of the most beautiful music ever composed. The undulating violins and contemplative, tranquil piano effectively take you inside a world filled with characters who wish to live simpler lives, characters who are innocent and have trouble even conceiving wickedness. They are terrorized by legendary creatures that live in the woods around their bucolic village, creatures who have decided that the peaceful truce they’ve shared for many years is now void. The Village is not so much a horror film as it is a romantic one and that is reflected in every track that Howard wrote. Just like The Village, The Wild Dark is more about the love and bond between two friends and where that takes them than it is about the apocalyptic events surrounding them. Today, I’ll be sharing a few songs from Howard’s soundtrack along with what I see when I listen to them.
Some of you probably caught my Horror-FAVE Friday blog featuring Lisa: The Painful RPG and all the things about it that make it an outstanding game. I briefly touched on the music composed by the game’s creator, Austin Jorgensen, or as he prefers to call himself, Widdly 2 Diddly. There is a very eclectic mix of tunes in Lisa that call for more atmospheric, scene-setting pieces, as well as outright pumped up beats. Since the game contains a lot of RPG battles, there’s a fair amount of dubstep, hiphoppy, rap, and rock type pieces and even some that are a bit more undefinable. The premise of the game revolves around Brad, who is living in a post-apocalyptic land called Olathe with some of his childhood friends. All of the women and children of the world have vanished in something known as the Flash. Brad happens upon a baby girl who he names Buddy and takes it upon himself to raise her and protect her. When she’s taken from him, he vows to get her back using any means necessary. Thus begins his humorous, depressing, hopeful, and often depraved journey.
So, this man is one of my favorite musicians. Ever. Ever since I discovered City and Colour a couple years ago, I’ve been playing his music non-stop. City and Colour is the recording name for ultra-talented musician Dallas Green who has had his hand in a few other projects as a singer-songwriter and guitarist. One of his more recent ventures is with singer-songwriter (and badass) P!nk with their duo, You + Me. City and Colour is a blend of soft pastel acoustic romance (“The Girl”), bright electric pop (“Thirst”), intense and fiery passion (“Woman”), and cool and dark folk (“Nowhere, Texas”). I’ve been listening to him a lot while working on the sequel to “Night Time, Dotted Line” as well as working on “The Wild Dark”. Both books, though vastly different, have been inspired in parts by City and Colour’s very diverse styling. I’m always a fan of someone who can and does branch out uniquely and successfully in their genre, someone who really tries not to write the same song over and over again. It’s the reason why City and Colour is one of my absolute favorites to listen to no matter what project I’m working on. Today, I’m going to share a few of City and Colour’s songs with you and write what I see when I listen to them. Enjoy!