I love a band that can inspire me no matter what genre I’m writing. Presently, I’ve found my mind leaping across three different writing projects in the last few weeks, trying to get work done on all of them and not go crazy at the same time. Between doing that, working full-time, and writing weekly blog posts…well…let’s just say I like to stay busy. alt-J has provided numerous opportunities to immerse myself in the story, no matter what the genre, and to get right down to business. This has been the case with a certain travel comedy sequel I’ve been planning (you’ll know the one), a short story directly linked to my latest book “Memento Mori” and my coup-de-grace of projects, my untitled apocalyptic novel. There is something undefined about alt-J’s style. Certainly one could imagine blazing across the country in a car, the wind in your hair from the open window as “Left Hand Free” blasts, or trekking along a deserted road in the wake of a catastrophe to “Hunger of the Pine”. That’s how amazing and diverse their music is and why I’ve been listening to them so much. Today, I’m going to share with you a few of their songs and describe what I see when I listen to them. Enjoy!
I have fond memories of playing the PSOne console. It was a video game system that my brother and I shared and it was housed up in the attic of our house. The attic wasn’t creepy and dark like most would assume. The sewing machine was up there, with a couple beds, my mom’s craft things, and the old Performa Apple computer. There would sometimes be daddy long legs scaling the sloped ceilings and sometimes you would have to curl up in a blanket in the winter months when you sat down to play a game. My favorite memory of playing Rayman 2 is with a hot cup of peach tea on a sunny afternoon. I let the sun and the tea warm me and played through the adventures of limbless Rayman, trying to defeat robot pirates as they took over his world, all to the sound of a diverse and playful soundtrack. I eventually sold the game in favor of another one (can’t remember which) and continued on. But that memory stayed with me: the sun, the tea, and the music from that game. I eventually tracked it down and bought it again and every once in a while, give myself a refresher of the environments and the fun tunes that accompanied this game.
It’s been several months since I’ve done a proper update blog, so I wanted to just sit down, listen to my Haddaway, and give you all an idea of everything going on now. Yes… I’m listening to 80’s music. Don’t judge.
BRAND NEW WEBSITE! Yes, if you haven’t been over to the website in a while, go check it out. I’ve changed the domain name back to www.monstrumchronicles.com and have simplified the layout. It looks cleaner, it’s easier to find information, and it looks much more professional. I’m pretty satisfied with it. I’d still like to get a character page up for some of the main characters in The Monstrum Chronicles but that may take a little while.
This is not the first time I’ve done a dance with Tomb Raider music before on this blog. Earlier, I talked about how much the soundtrack to “Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness” (composed by Peter Connelly and Martin Iveson) had inspired several scenes for my latest book in The Monstrum Chronicles and earlier projects (including an earlier version of Night Time, Dotted Line when it was a thriller and not a comedy.) Admittedly, the Tomb Raider series is one of my favorites from my childhood, especially the first two games. When I discovered I could play the games in the CD player and listen to all of the different musical tracks, I was beyond excited. I was writing a fantasy novel about cats at the time (NOT the vampire/cat book…Ugh) and listened to these songs as inspiration. Losing myself in a song allows me to imagine places that don’t seem to be of earthly creation. It’s easier to create a place that is more sinister, or magical, or mysterious if there is a distraction from my everyday surroundings. At the time, that was being bullied at school and listening to my brother practice his trumpet. (Sorry, bro.)
A couple years ago, I was introduced to a short animated film called Varmints. This 24 minute film covers themes of deforestation and urbanization in a touching and inspiring narrative. While I was impressed with the film, its music, composed by Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson, was what I truly enjoyed about it. The kind of music that is subtle and dark and lovely in its composition because it’s not trying too hard to be noticed. It complimented the imagery on screen and hinted at the darker themes that the film was highlighting. I kept an eye on his other projects and was excited to see that he composed for the film, “Prisoners”, a thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman. Both protagonists in their pursuit for justice and understanding, begin to slide down a blurring path or morality and find themselves doing things they never thought they’d be capable of. As of late, Johannsson has won a Golden Globe Award for his work on the Stephen Hawking biopic, “The Theory of Everything”.
The Monstrum Chronicles has always been inspired by a variety of music. Whether it is rock, instrumental, or opera, I’ve listened to just about everything while working on these books. Today, I’m particularly happy to introduce to you a list of music that I found most inspirational while working on my latest novel, MEMENTO MORI. Today I’ll be sharing 13 songs from the unofficial playlist with you and one sentence about how the song correlates to the story. Enjoy!
Today isn’t necessarily an exercise in seeing scenes while listening to music as much as it is appreciating said music. There are times when I get stuck while writing; happens to the best of us. Often we get up, we go for a walk, we fold laundry, wash dishes, watch a movie…anything to get our minds off of it so that, hopefully, an answer will come to us through something else. I often will listen to some music…and usually, it’s from a selection of video game soundtracks that I hold in high regard. Video game soundtracks can and often are a form of art. Growing up with Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Playstation… I’ve been introduced to several gorgeous compositions that have fully immersed me in the world of the game and often inspired me in my writing. If we’re being honest here…there are dozens upon dozens of game soundtracks that I own and adore. But, today, I’m going to share with you my top ten along with why I enjoy them. So…here we go!
It occurred to me recently that I have never fully explained why write these blogs. Sure, I love discovering new music and sharing my discoveries with people. I like to write and listen to them. But there is something more to it, something I hope you writers and readers will appreciate. I once remember looking at another author’s playlist of songs that she listened to while writing her book years ago. When she got to a certain song on her list, she put in parentheses next to it “Generic action music”. I remember being extremely annoyed by that. Not sure if it was a blast against the writing of action scenes in general or if it was against that genre of music (in this case it was Fat Boy Slim). The author has since changed the list, removing the random note. And while this author shall remain nameless (*cough*Stephanie Meyer *cough* *cough*), I would really like to take a moment and focus on just how important action scenes are in the books that require them and how a certain song can really fit in with the scene you have in mind.
When I listen to music as I’m writing, I’m not simply using it as background noise. It’s more than just a distraction from the world going on around me. I tend to visualize the scenes in my novels and, often, I will do this to the tune from a song whether it is instrumental or vocal. There are certain songs that I can close my eyes to and see everything that the characters are doing in time with the music. I suppose it could be seen as a form of synesthesia, although I wouldn’t say I’m seeing a specific color while listening to a specific song or hearing a specific voice. This generally happens when I’m writing an action scene more often than not.
When I find a band that I can really get in sync with and start writing to easily, it’s essentially a giant celebration. I am a fan of many different kinds of music and I write a lot of very different genres, ranging from comedy to horror. Just about a month ago, I was working on a side project from my Monstrum Chronicles horror series in order to kind of recharge my writing batteries. Sometimes taking a break and working on a fun and utterly different project makes you able to see things with a clear head once again. And that’s just what it did for me. While working on that project, I came across this drop-dead gorgeous band called Stateless and a bountiful collection of songs that I’ve had on repeat for…a while now.
Stateless is an English electronic band that was founded in 2002. These guys have thought-provoking lyrics matched with some great beats and incredibly balanced harmonies. What really stuck out at me were the levels of beauty and grittiness that songs peaked at, able to sound really dark and tragic but also hopeful and lovely. Got to say that they are probably one of my favorite bands now. I absolutely love their stuff. It got so that I listened to them not only for the break story but also for Memento Mori and my apocalyptic novel, Cold Walls. I was thankfully able to include my four favorite songs from them in today’s Inspiration Through Music, along with what scenes played through my head as I listened to them. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy.
I like listening to all kinds of music when writing. It all depends on the genre, the mood of the scene, and the characters and their chemistry in that scene. Most of all, I love it when I find a musician or band with a distinctive voice, really intriguing lyrics, and a great melody. Several years ago, I was given a taste of the work from a band called October Project. I had only ever heard one of their songs but I fell in love with the lead singer’s voice within moments. Through the years, I returned to that song, listening to it for several projects here and there. Only recently, was I introduced to Mary Fahl once again, now not a part of October Project and singing some fabulous songs, sounding as amazing as ever. I even missed seeing her by several hours. HOURS. Had I known that she was in the state doing a concert, I would have booked it down there to catch it. Unfortunately, I missed it. But several of my other writer friends saw her and are as equally in awe of her talent as I am.