Just got home from my grandparent’s house, where I was fed the most delicious lasagna ever. So good. Wonderful chocolate cake, too. The poodle and me are both paws up on the couch, trying to digest. Woof.
Anyway, music. I’m listening to the new Michael Buble: Meets Madison Square Garden album. Very nice digs for my ears. I’m revising the next Hunter Kiss novella, which will appear in the anthology, INKED, sometime in January 2010. As I twittered, there’s time traveling, demons, murder, mayhem, war, etc. Lots of fun, but getting the tone right is like working a puzzle blind. You have to feel out the pieces, and work by instinct. Or though logic, as an artist friend reminded me last night. Our own kind of logic and problem-solving.
Music helps me with that. I’ve blogged about this before, but I recently saw a piece in the New York Times, in which Lee Child was asked what he listens to as he writes. This is what he had to say:
“For me, music is narrative — and not just music that has stories within lyrics but instrumental music too. Music has a time base, it unfolds, it has pace and rhythm, it has light and dark, it has key changes and movements that act like chapters. It starts somewhere and takes you somewhere else. When I listen to a jazz solo or a rock solo, I hear the guy telling me something, arguing, explaining, justifying, cajoling. I want my books to do the same thing, both in terms of the longer arc and the shorter sections or paragraphs or lines.
But, famously, writing also involves long periods of lying down and staring into space, which is where music is essential. For me, it’s all about unwinding: not myself — this is not a stressful job — but unwinding plot problems, identifying dynamics, seeing potential harmonies. If writing a novel is about getting from A to Z, then music helps me hop from B to C, and C to D, and so on, and see how P could carry an echo of F, and how H could prefigure an inevitable X.”
I get this. I’m doing it, even now. I always have. I listened to a lot of Sting and Peter Gabriel when I wrote TIGER EYE. I listened to loads of alternative mood music while penning DARKNESS CALLS. But this isn’t a post about that. This is a post about what the characters listen to—in the Hunter Kiss series—specifically Maxine Kiss and her “boys”.
Music is incredibly important in these books, on a very basic level. Music is language. Another way of speaking. And Dek and Mal, the two little snake-like demons who spend most of their time hidden in Maxine’s hair, can’t speak. Not in any language known to humans, at any rate. But they can sing. And the way they talk to Maxine is by humming familiar songs, the titles and lyrics—and tones—of which, tell her how they’re feeling, and what’s on their minds.
If you go to Blip.fm, you can see the playlist from DARKNESS CALLS—every song mentioned in the book (except for one, by Jimmy Durante). And every song is a message to Maxine from the boys. It’s a reflection of a particular moment: between them, around them. If the book had a soundtrack, that would probably be it (though with one or two exceptions, it’s not the music I listened to as I wrote).
Go check it out. Let me know what you think. I’ll be giving it away via iTunes at some point, perhaps on Twitter, or here at the blog.