Words & Music Monday with J F Lewis
Hello, again… and Happy Monday! Today’s musical offering comes from the author of the Void City series, J F Lewis. The fourth book in the series, BURNED, was just released last week, and I can’t wait to read it. (It’s looking at me, right now, from my bookshelf. Taunting me.) The Void City series is a roller coaster ride of vampire urban fantasy and hilarious comic relief. Eric, Greta, and the rest of the gang are some of my favorite characters to read because you really, seriously, NEVER know what they’re going to do next. Luckily… I know what’s happening here next… 🙂
There are times when the words flow without any musical accompaniment whatsoever, but for me, that is not the majority of the time. Often, when I go down into the word mine to find another story vein, I need my tunes. Some characters have their own playlists. Others, like Eric, have more than one playlist.
I’ll give you an example. When I decided to write from Talbot’s point of view in Crossed, I ran into a problem. Talbot is a mouser… basically a cat who can be humanoid if he wants to be (either human-looking or werecat-like) because he experiences in three different planes of existence at once. He’s aloof and cool. His perceptions, morals, and general reactions are all very different than those of my vampire characters.
The answer was in the cool jazz of Miles Davis. Listening to Bitches Brew. I had the otherworldly rhythms needed to jog my mind along the right path. After a chapter or two, I didn’t need the right music anymore, but any time I needed to jump back to that part of the novel, or try to figure out how Talbot (or another mouser) might react to something, I could queue up my Jazz playlist and get back into the mouser zone.
My female characters have their playlists, too, but basically it’s angry chick music and The Puppini Sisters. I think the key to explaining the difference between male and female points of view lies in a conversation I had with my wife back at my first convention as a “real professional writer”. My first novel, Staked, had just come out. We were eating dinner and talking about a panel I was going to be on- it was a panel about writing strong female characters- and Janet (my wife) asked me how I get inside their heads as a writer.
“Women’s heads are always busy,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re always thinking and multitasking,” I took a bite of my sandwich, chewed, and swallowed. “For example, what are you thinking about right now?”
“I’m wondering if the boys are giving your parents any trouble,” she said thoughtfully. “I’m also thinking about whether or not I should run to Office Depot to get you an easel for displaying your cover at the booth tomorrow. I’m deciding whether I’m going to want to wear what I have laid out for tonight or something more casual.” She stopped and looked at me as I took another bite. “Lots of things. Why? What are you thinking about right now?”
“I’m chewing,” I answered.
And speaking of guy mentality, Eric gets lots of playlists. He’s Void City’s main protagonist. He’s a vampire. And he’s been through World War II and Korea as a human in the armed forces. As a result, I listen to a lot of Sinatra and Big Band music when I’m writing scenes from Eric’s past or trying to remind myself that he would try to approach a problem from a less modern set of ideals. When Eric’s angry, I kick in the Metal and Hard Rock. Stroke 9’s “Kick Some Ass”, Disturbed’s “Indestructible”, Five Finger Death Punch’s “Way of the Fist”… all mixed in with some Godzilla music by Akira Ifukube.
As a side note, when Greta, Eric’s insane vampiric daughter, is going off the rails, I tend to listen to Korn… “Shoots and Ladders” in particular. It’s just such a Greta song.
I have a romantic scenes playlist, a fight scene playlist, and even a playlist for stretching out in the floor with my eyes closed, trying to figure out what will happen next. That one is called “Don’t Kill the Doctor”, but I’m not sure why I called it that.
So, yeah, music figures in very heavily when I write. There are times when I just want music going, too. Then, I go for The Beatles or Iron Maiden, occasionally my Vangelis or Soundtrack playlists. It’s about controlling my personal soundscape.
Of course, a blog about music and my writing would not be complete without mentioning one song in particular. It’s THE song, the song to which I was listening when Eric “came to life” for the first time as a character that I wanted to someday write about: “Asshole” by Denis Leary. If you haven’t heard it, check it out. It’s not completely Eric. He wouldn’t do all the things mentioned in the song, but the general vibe? Oh, yeah. To me, it screams, “Welcome to the Void!”
Big thank you to Jeremy for sharing some of his musical inspirations with us today. I have to admit, I spent a lot of time putting this post together because I kept getting sidetracked on youtube with these songs. (Haven’t heard Shoots & Ladders in forever… SO love that for Greta!!)
So… go… check out the songs… did you find something new? An old favorite? *runs back for more Vangelis*
When you’re done with the music, you can find some Void City freebie stories on the J F Lewis website. And more info and hilarity from Jeremy can be found at these places…