Words & Music Monday with Karina Cooper

Hello all!! This week we get to hear from one of my favorite new(ish) authors. Karina Cooper’s Dark Mission series is really fantastic, and the third book, ALL THINGS WICKED is coming out on January 31st.

Music Is My Drug

Hi. My name is Karina, and I have a confession: I have 12.5 consecutive days’ worth of music on my hard drive.

Since the dawn of computering–okay, wait, before I date myself, I mean since my dawn of computering–I have kept music. I remember the first mp3s. I can go back farther and talk about the files upon files of midi music I used to own. (I remember being quite displeased with Enya, who was in turn quite displeased with the many upon many midi files made from her music across the burgeoning internet.) Over a decade ago, when I first starting dating the mancandy, I remember owning a machine with a 1 GB hard drive — of which exactly 4Mb of space was left free. I kept that space full with an mp3.

For some, 12.5 days of consecutive music isn’t that much. It translates to roughly 21.15 GB of music (if iTunes is to be believed). I know folks with upwards of 60, 80, 100 GB of music, into vast and mighty Terabyte land, but there’s something to be said for mine. Because unlike a lot of mp3 collectors out there, I can state two things for certain: 1) most of my collection is purchased,    either from CD or iTunes/Amazon (mmhmmm), and 2) I listen to all of it.

Well, okay, I don’t just turn on my music for twelve and half days, but I have all of my music organized into playlists, and each    playlist has a purpose. There’s my Inspiration playlist, my Star Wars playlist (don’t judge me), my playlists for each of my    Changeling characters over the years, my Steampunk playlist (titled ApocaSteampunk for no real reason), my bagpipe-laden Gray & Gaelic playlist for the rainy days, and–of course–my writing lists.

It’s rare that I don’t have music on when I write. Sometimes, I find myself needing the quiet to really wring words out, but the vast majority of my writing time is spent with music leaking out of the speakers in various stages of volume and flow. There are two rules to be a candidate for “music Karina writes to”, and they are as follows:

    1. No lyrics. I find them distracting, and it’s virtually impossible for me to write something like, “As he stroked his fingers down the soft skin of her inner thigh,” without somehow adding, “I’m talking about everybody getting crunk, crunk, boys tryin’ to touch my junk, junk,” because I’m singing it at the top of my lungs. I am not a quiet music-listener, and that’s not quite the mood I’m going for.

    2. Nothing that is too evocative of the movie or show it came from. For example, I can’t listen to Pirates of the Caribbean when I write. Why? Because that refrain comes in full-scale and I’m suddenly imagining Johnny Depp buckling his swash, and while that’s got it’s own particular charms, it’s not the imagery I need. The less the music reminds me of the place it came from, the better.

You can imagine I have a lot of movie scores. Everything from Constantine to music from Alone in the Dark; The Exorcism of Emily Rose to Steve Jablonsky’s Transformer’s scores. No Gladiator, I’m afraid. No Lord of the Rings. I own them, of course–let’s be serious!–but I don’t write to them.

And to compound my music fetishism a little bit more, I don’t usually re-use music once I’ve written to it, unless the series follows the same “feel”. I wrote a majority of the Dark Mission books to a mix of Constantine and The Da Vinci Code (including Angels & Demons). And yet, when it came time to write All Things Wicked (out January 31st, 2012), I found neither of these things worked for me. The music I needed had to be low-impact to balance the grim reality of the images in my head; it had to be evocative enough to tease the truth from somewhere inside all the ADD-rattled fluff inside my skull.

It needed to be the kind of music that I would play to soothe a wild beast. A murderer’s lullaby.

I wrote Caleb and Juliet’s story to one soundtrack. Set on repeat and left to play over and over, I wrung every last note out of it. It’s not at all what I would have chosen for myself, but it apparently worked for Caleb.

To my surprise, it wasn’t hard rock refrains or epic battle-music that coached me through the sticky processes of my hero’s determined brain. Nor was it mysterious operatic chorales or haunting, ghostly stalker-like music. Instead, the sweet piano-heavy score of Alexandre Michel Desplat’s The Painted Veil became the catalyst for murder, mystery and mayhem–and, of course, romance.

Not at all what Caleb would choose for himself, if he had to. Well, he’s not much for music. He finds most of the stuff on the entertainment feeds not worth listening to, and anything he’d want to hear, he’d want to hear loud. Which, when letting your    guard down could mean losing your life, isn’t the smartest thing to be doing. But if he had to, he’d pick some good old-fashioned power ballads. Love songs with some major kick.

And he’d threaten to do something horrible involving your teeth and knees in one go if you so much as breathed a word to anyone.

There’s the Caleb we know!

Aaahhhhhh… Caleb… your rock ballad secret is safe with me!! 🙂 Thanks to Karina for sharing some of her musical inspiration. So… who’s got some instrumental music/score ideas to share??

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