Oh Noes. Swear Words.

I saw the above image on Facebook today and it struck a chord with me.

As an author, I feel I have an obligation to present characters true to themselves and to the world in which we live. I understand some people feel that swearing is evil, and they don’t like it – and that’s fine. [Don’t like it, don’t do it] However, some people take it further, attacking anyone who does invoke ‘naughty words.’ These individuals feel that because they object to swearing, everyone needs to follow their beliefs and no one should ever swear.

Alas, this is not the world in which we live.

I’ve seen articles posted claiming that intelligent people swear more frequently – I have no idea if that’s true or not, but I know how things were/are around where I live. I’ve had a few people get ‘offended’ by a 13 year old character swearing in my novel Caller 107. When I was that age, pretty much everyone around me in the same age group swore (far worse than the character in this book). It’s something kids did at that age here to feel older than they were.

Also, as the narrative progresses, the character decides to stop swearing so much – which is a representation of her attempt to change. These dime-store moralists ignored that aspect and focused on being horrified at a couple of words. Another thing about it that feels wonky to me is that these people were more bothered by the use of colorful language than by the horrible things that happen to the character.

People swear. It happens. If someone is more offended by the word fuck than by the idea of divorce destroying a child’s life, or by what happens to said child when she falls in with a pack of wanna-be street thugs, it’s time to re-evaluate one’s idea of what is ‘wrong.’

So… I wrote an LGBT YA Fantasy.

So… I wrote an LGBT love story.

A YA fantasy where two girls fall in love in a kingdom where such relationships are frowned on.

I’ve written 34 full novels now as well as a bunch of short stories, and I can’t say I’ve been as excited (or as nervous) about any of them as I am about The Eldritch Heart.

Two or so years ago, I was at the day job and I overheard someone (I still don’t know who it was, merely a voice floating over cubicle walls) complaining in earnest about how “disgraceful” it was that Disney put out a movie with two girls “doing lesbian stuff.” Of course, this particular example of genius was talking about Frozen, which has nothing whatsoever to do with two girls in love. (I didn’t bother to insert myself into the discussion to point out that they are sisters in that story.) However, hearing that did get me thinking about the lack of those kinds of stories. I got the idea to write a “princess story” where the princess falls in love with another girl instead of the handsome prince everyone expects her to marry. I jotted down a couple of early ideas for a plot – arranged marriage the princess doesn’t want any part of, a servant girl she’s close friends with, running away, some magic going on, etc. I had a bunch of other projects on the table at the time (writing and editing) so I set this file aside.

Eventually, my writing schedule opened and I found myself staring at this file again. And I’m thinking to myself: How would people react to a cis man writing a princess story where two girls fall in love? I hesitated, unsure if I could do it justice.

Enter a beta reader.

At request, I’m going to be anonymous here… but there is a woman who has done a fair amount of beta reading for me. As we exchanged more and more emails and got to know each other as “internet friends” tend to do, she mentioned that her eldest daughter had recently come out to her after a long period of being terrified to tell anyone. There are still people in their circle who don’t know, and that is the reason for the vagueness here. Anyway, when I heard how the daughter had such a harrowing path to walk leading up to her decision to finally tell her mother the truth – all the fear involved… that made me decide that I needed to at least try to write this book.

So, I pulled open that little list of notes and added to it, fleshed out the characters and their motivations, the kingdom, and the storyline.

Magic… check.

Fantasy creatures… check.

Two kingdoms at war… check.

Once I had the chapter outline done and revised a few times, I sat down and started writing.

And something happened… for a while, I stopped worrying how people would react to me trying to tell this kind of story and got engrossed in it. Eldritch Heart became a tale of two people deeply in love with each other but so afraid of losing the person they love to hatred they can’t bring themselves to speak their true feelings. When, finally, the moment comes for the characters to be in a position where they can no longer keep silent, that scene where they admit their feelings for each other got me misty-eyed. Every time I read over the draft during self-edits, publisher edits, and final proofread, that scene gets me.

Something even cooler followed. When I finished writing the story, and finished polishing it up enough to let beta readers have at it, I sent it to the woman who I mentioned before. I admit, I was a bit mischievous about it as I did not tell her what kind of story it was. She figured it out pretty quick and I could practically feel her grin over the internet. She asked if the daughter could read it too, and of course (while biting my nails) I said yes of course – she’s the whole reason I decided to write it.

A week or two later, I hear back that the girl adored it… even read it twice (a rare thing according to her mother). The best part, she said she “could totally relate” to several parts of the story.

Feeling like a million bucks… check.

Still nervous… yeah.

Why? Because some people are assholes.

But, I’ve realized… I have no right to be worried about how people might react to a book with LGBT characters written by a straight guy. There are people out there who LIVE that, and they don’t have the separation from the hate of ‘just writing a book.’ It’s their identity, who they are, and who they’ve been afraid to show the world.

So, I am no longer nervous about this book.

I’m excited.

And if it resonates with even one person in that situation, I will be grateful for having reached them.

Happy reading,

-Matt


The Eldritch Heart releases August 1 2017 via Curiosity Quills Press (www.curiosityquills.com)

Eldritch Heart page (goodreads link here)

#Fantasy #Young-Adult #LGBT

April Updates

Well, April is upon us once again. Figured I’d take a few minutes and make a post since I’ve been somewhat lax in regards to the blog as of late. (There has been much writing and editing going on). Seems I’m on a fantasy kick as of late, editing Eldritch Heart while also putting some last minute touches on Emma and the Elixir of Madness, and also starting the first draft of Emma and the Weeping Spirit.

Some good news – Curiosity Quills has signed Emma and the Elixir of Madness, the fourth book in the Tales of Widowswood series (a middle-grade fantasy). Also, I’ve started drafting on the fifth, Emma and the Weeping Spirit.

The Eldritch Heart is in mid edits, and I am excited to the point of losing a little sleep since it’s proving difficult to pry myself away from the computer. There’s some welcome tweaks happening which is making the story more fulfilling and complete.

Also, in about a month, the fourth book in the Division Zero series, Guardian, will release. This is a novel I hadn’t initially planned on ever writing. The end of book three left Kirsten at a place I thought good to leave her… however, I kept having readers tell me they wanted more time with Kirsten. So, I sat down and spend a couple weeks thinking about various plot ideas before settling on what would become the fourth novel in the series. (Attention Book Bloggers: early review ARCs are available. If you are interested in reading Guardian early to post a review on release day, please email me. Mcox2112 at gmail dot com.

I’ve also been elbow-deep in edits for the second book of the Roadhouse Chronicles series – The Redeemed. I’m humbled at the wonderful feedback I’m receiving in regard to the first novel in that series, One More Run, and my editor seems to like The Redeemed. The only downside is having to wait for its release date.

Eldritch Heart will probably wind up back with the editor later tonight, and I’m fortunate in that she is as excited about it as I am. Anyway, I suppose I’ve rambled enough for now.

 

Happy reading!

Characters and Food

Perhaps I should have titled this post “Why You Shouldn’t Blog While Hungry.”

I was having lunch today and wound up randomly thinking of jalapeño-and-egg sandwiches, which in turn made me think of Kirsten from the Division Zero series. Ever since I wrote in that she’d developed a fondness for them, I’ve associated that food to her character.

From a development standpoint in writing, adding the little details to a character often helps deepen their reality for the reader. Small quirks such as a favorite meal add a bit of normality to characters. I once had a reader comment about Althea from Prophet of the Badlands. In one scene, she’s stuffing enchiladas, so she wants to keep her hands ‘food clean.’ When her leg itches, she scratches it with her foot. That minor action resonated with a reader enough for her to comment on it, specifically a character who by all rights is beyond a normal person (strong paranormal abilities) doing something like that – so mundane – that it made her relatable and real.

This of course got me thinking about the various main characters (and primary support characters) in my novels. I gave a bit of thought to what their favorite foods are (since I happened to be eating lunch while thinking around this idea). The result of this is a little ramble about my characters and what they like to eat.

(Yes I was hungry while writing this.)

So, without further delay, here is a list of my characters, the series or book they appear in, and their favorite foods.


During his days playing for the Arsenal Frictionless Club, a rather impressive fish and chips wagon frequented the area around the stadium. Aaron has been on a quest for F&C that’s anywhere near as good as what the old man with the cart made, but has yet to find anything close.

Chicken Enchiladas are the first meal she had after being taken in by Karina and Father. After spending half her short life enslaved for her healing powers, eating them always reminds her of being welcomed into their home and having a real family.

Anna ran away at twelve, forced to live on the streets of London after accidentally killing her father when her electrokinesis lashed out defensively during a drunken beating. She had few happy memories growing up. Her friend Penny begged, wheedled, and scammed enough money to somewhat routinely provide them both “the full English” most days. (At the time, it was the extent of her ability to cook). The elaborate breakfast always makes Anna think of the happier times she’s had.

Much of what Aurora does is motivated by her love to make people around her uncomfortable. She adores the way people squirm while watching her eat it.

Emma’s mother has never grown out of her fondness for Nan’s cherry pie. While not technically a “meal,” it is her favorite food item.

Much to Riley’s abject horror, her father lives as a recluse in the vast open nothingness of New Mexico. His cabinets are packed full of Spag-Os, which he likes for their ease and simplicity. He’s also rather fond of the taste.

A dish his grandmother served when he was growing up, and still makes once a year at family gatherings. During his time in the UCF Military, many of his platoon mates called him “Toofey” for his constant grumbling about not being able to have this dish.

A family recipe that’s been around for a few hundred years, Nan’s cooks-all-day stew is her favorite both for the flavor, for the way it warms the whole house with its fragrance, and because her grandmother made it.

  • Evan Wren (Division Zero) – Grilled chicken (with loads of black pepper).

It’s the first meal that Kirsten attempted to cook for him (and one of the few her nascent cooking skills don’t butcher).

A good steak dinner was always high on his list of pleasant meals, but it elevated to a state of fond longing after he became a vampire and could no longer partake.

During her time with the 494th Night Terrors in World War III, Genna returned to base after a harrowing mission she felt certain would kill her. Upon heading to the mess, she found the freshest thing available to be a tray of mac and cheese. Ever since, the simple dish has become like eating “holy shit I’m alive” in physical form.

From his years living low in the grey zones, Joey developed a taste for “the dreaded third stage.” When the molecular rearrangement of OmniSoy starts to break down, the food devolves into a puddle of tasteless slime. When enough time passes after that, it congeals into a cheese-like substance known as (by Joey) – the third stage.

After years of living in underground tunnels between the Sanctuary Zone and the Habitation District, Pope has gone from eating rat to survive to becoming fond of it. In addition to liking the taste of grilled rat meat, it represents his independence from both the high and the low end of “established society.”

With her insane metabolism due to her out-of-control pyrokinetics, Kate needs to eat about three times as much as a normal person not to starve. Since she is stuck living in bad parts of town, the fast food chain CyberBurger provides her most frequent source of meals, and her favorite: the double orbital – a two-patty monstrosity with all the trimmings.

Much of Katya’s childhood was spent as a ward of the OOI (Office of Operational Intelligence, the ACC’s military intelligence group), being trained as a “ghost” or spy. For years, she had no ‘favorite’ food, having a guaranteed (if plain) – meal at all felt like luxury. After defecting to the UCF, she’s developed a fondness for Italian food, especially if it is loaded with garlic.

Kenny’s favorite eats are simple. He lacks the patience for “fancy” dining and much prefers to grill something himself over an open fire out in the Badlands.

While attending UC Berkeley for Xenoarchaeology, Kerys spent many long hours sitting at a table in “Saint Vito’s Pizza.” A fan of chicken parmesan sandwiches since her early teens, she almost always had one while studying.

Long hours spent on the road driving other people’s crap between settlements always ends best at Wayne’s Roadhouse in Hagerman, New Mexico, where he can enjoy a “roadkill burger” cooked by the android Bee. He especially loves mashing French fries into his mouth while chewing on the burger.

  • Kirsten Wren (Division Zero) – Omelet sandwich with jalapenos.

Nicole (her friend) – suggested it once, and initially, Kirsten was hesitant at the idea of mixing jalapenos with eggs. After trying it, she’s become hooked.

A servant girl in the castle, Kitlyn’s options for food have been rather limited, though among her narrow choices, she has come to adore “servant’s feast” the most, which is made of various leftovers that go together mixed into a stew pot. (Typically some combination of turkey, ham, beef, beans/peas, and bread.)

Emma’s father’s favorite thing to eat is a breakfast of cheese, apple slices, muffins, and sometimes sausage. He loves stacking cheese atop apple slices and eating them together, which Emma cannot even bear to look at.

Mamoru is still a tween boy addicted to video games somewhere deep inside beneath the rigidity imposed upon him by being raised as a samurai. The noodles appeal to that part of him. Also, they lend themselves to being consumed fast, so he can get back to whatever he had been doing before needing to interrupt himself with food.

Masaru has expensive tastes, and often frequents the Toko Lounge, where he orders a spread of high-end sushi that can cost several thousand credits per serving.

Despite possessing an unusual intellect and a high-school education by the age of nine, Maya is still only a child. After years of re-hydrated prepack meals, she has fried chicken fingers at The Hangar (a military-themed bar) – and discovers the meaning of addiction.

Paige’s eight-year-old sister, she is soft spoken, cute, and highly girly… unless pizza is involved, at which point she turns into a little red-haired Tasmanian devil.

Emma’s grandmother’s favorite meal is baked ham, coated in enchanted herbs and seasonings and left to bake all day, best served with roast potatoes.

  • Natalie Rausch (Caller 107) – Rotisserie Chicken

After the divorce, Natalie would visit her father once or twice a month at his high-rise apartment. Whenever she spent the night, her busy lawyer dad would usually pick up a pre-cooked chicken for dinner and they’d share it while watching movies.

The dish got served at home somewhat frequently when she was growing up, and it is the first thing she cooked for Elizaveta.

As princess of the Kingdom of Lucernia, Oona has never known want for anything (except freedom from her obligations and a life without fear of assassins). Her favorite meal is Turkey, specifically drumsticks. Castle rumor holds that if turkey is served and she winds up not getting a drumstick, at least one servant will wind up reassigned to shoveling out the stables.

They’re quick, easy, and present an opportunity to dodge having to argue with her mother or deal with the fact that her mother often “forgets” to cook for Paige while feeding her little sister.

A long-time bachelor and officer in the Mars Defense Force, Pavo’s meal of choice is noodle bowls from any of the hundreds of vendors in Primus City. He does not have a particular favorite (shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, seafood) – as long as it’s got broth and noodles, he’s happy.

It’s the first “real” dish her mother taught her how to prepare. Of all the recipes in her cookbook, it reminds her the most of spending time with Mom.

The giant egg-and-bacon sandwich is the first food she has in several years that was not generated out of OmniSoy. Kree finding her leftovers and adorably “stealing” them cemented the vastly unhealthy thing as her favorite.

Sabine has spent more years as a vampire than as a mortal girl (8), so she does not remember much of real food. She has developed a fondness for the way a good-natured woman’s blood takes on notes of fruit or sweet things in a vampire’s brain. However, one thing she does remember is having breakfast with her mother, which often consisted of toast spread with fruit jam.

Sarah’s father Billy is a veteran, and qualifies for the free cheese sandwiches provided as assistance. Living out in the Habitation District where most people wonder IF there will be food, not WHAT to eat, she’s developed a fondness for the self-warming mystery meal that inflates to a simple cheese sandwich on white bread when activated. A reliable source of nutrition, she likes it because it’s always there for her and it also reminds her of Dad.

Growing up in the Enclave, where 95% of all food is vegetables, Triss became quite sick of sautéed vegetables, salad, vegetable stew and a dozen different permutations of squash. Soon after finding herself out in the Wildlands, she got a taste of Dust Hopper meat (think a massive rabbit) – cooked over an open flame. For being her first substantial meal that did /not/ consist of vegetables, she’s developed a fondness for it even if most people out there consider it “what people eat when they ain’t got nothin’ better.”


Well, now that I’ve written this, and re-read it a few times… I made myself hungry again. Happy reading!

/wanders off to have a snack.

Word Count

Word count. Love ’em or hate ’em.

I remember being in school, and being given an assignment to write a 1,000 word essay on something, and feeling like the world had just ended. Oh, if I had only known then… Lately, I’ve made a habit of writing 100,000 word books left and right. The idea of writing something at 1,000 words feels trivial now.

Clare, an indispensable member of the team at Curiosity Quills, recently teased me for never having read the Harry Potter series. In a recent lull, I remedied that – binge reading the entire series while watching each respective movie between the books. (A rather striking example of the difference between movies and books dare I say. That old meme of the movie being the mere tip of the iceberg shines clear.)

I noticed the first book went pretty quick, and out of curiosity, I looked up the word counts for them.

Philospher’s Stone: 76,944

Chamber of Secrets: 85,141

Prisoner of Azkaban: 107,253

Goblet of Fire: 190,637

Order of the Phoenix: 257,045

Half-Blood Prince: 168,923

Deathly Hallows: 198,227

When I first started writing and trying to get published, I kept hearing people say that a long book is never going to get printed. The first novel I completed writing, Virtual Immortality, clocked in at 255k at first draft. (I wound up editing it down to 206k, but it snuck back up to 211k during edits.)

As I sought advice on publishing, I ran into some people who took it like blasphemy to suggest a book over 90k words had a chance in hell of getting picked up. These people got quite sanctimonious at the mention of The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss’s debut novel over 250k words. At that point words like ‘anomaly’ and ‘winning the lottery’ got thrown around. To hear them talk, a book must be within 70-80k words. Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but their advice – though given with a touch too much smarm – did have a point. While it is possible to have an agent or publisher pick up a brand new unheard-of author with a book outside the convention, it reduces the chances. It would have been better to hear “a book that big will be more difficult, you should consider writing something smaller,” rather than “oh, my God, you wrote a huge book for your first title? you are shitting over the entirety of publishing and offending the spirits of every dead author who’s ever put pen to paper!”

Okay, perhaps they weren’t quite that bad… but that’s the tone I took away from it. So, for any of you who might be wondering about getting that first book accepted by a publisher or by an agent, know that word count does matter. There is a preconception that a new writer will throw together 300,000 words of drek and hope to get signed. Thus, the larger a book, the less likely it is to get signed. However, if your work wows the agent/publisher/editor enough, the length can matter less. Some agents will see a wordcount past X and toss without even looking further. It’s a gamble.

In my case, I decided not to roll those dice, and wrote Division Zero #1. Compared to Virtual Immortality, it had only one main character (no rotating POV), and a less complex plot with fewer moving parts. Once that book got signed by Curiosity Quills, I sent them VI, and thankfully, they liked it.

It’s said that a writer doesn’t find their voice until they’ve written a million words. I’ve recently completed the first draft of Emma and the Elixir of Madness, the fourth book in the Tales of Widowswood series. At 90,147 words, it brings my lifetime word count (as of 3/9/17) up to 4,002,503. If there’s any truth to that ‘finding a voice’ thing, I hope I’ve done so. Maybe a writer is too close to ‘feel’ their own voice. If any of you think I ‘have’ a voice, please drop a comment : )

So for any of you who may be curious what my word counts look like–(I found the word counts of famous books fascinating)–here’s my list.

Happy reading!


Title Word Count Series
Prophet of the Badlands 144,279 Awakened
Archon’s Queen 126,855 Awakened
Grey Ronin 114,121 Awakened
Daughter of Ash 118,125 Awakened
Zero Rogue 106,528 Awakened
Angel Descended 197,421 Awakened
Hand of Raziel 144,876 Daughter of Mars
Araphel 114,175 Daughter of Mars
Ghost Black 111,508 Daughter of Mars
Division Zero 97,657 Division Zero
Division Zero: Lex De Mortuis 108,531 Division Zero
Division Zero: Thrall 144,914 Division Zero
Division Zero: Guardian 169,572 Division Zero
Heir Ascendant 113,000 Faded Skies
Ascendant Revolution 106,280 Faded Skies
One More Run (Novel) 136,291 Roadhouse Chronicles
The Redeemed (Roadhouse 2) 126,493 Roadhouse Chronicles
Dead Man’s Number (roadhouse 3) 140,152 Roadhouse Chronicles
Emma and the Banderwigh 59,410 Tales of Widowswood
Emma and the Silk Thieves 73,270 Tales of Widowswood
Emma and the Silverbell Faeries 66,974 Tales of Widowswood
Emma and the Elixir of Madness 90,147 Tales of Widowswood
Virtual Immortality 211,386 Virtual Immortality
The Harmony Paradox 231,536 Virtual Immortality
A Dream of Clouds (short) 20,290
Caller 107 54,625
Chiaroscuro: The Mouse and the Candle 100,741
Loose Ends (Short) 10,737
Maestro’s Requiem (Short) 13,066
Nine Candles of Deepest Black 109,045
Operation Chimera 42,180
Out of Sight (short) 19,530
Ruin of Man (short) 16,879
Stolen Orchid (short) 7,247
The Dysfunctional Comspiracy 110,942
The Eldritch Heart 128,707
The Far Side of Promise 108,500
The Old City (Short) 18,823
The Summer The World Ended 92,508
Wayfarer: AV494 98,509

Writing | Inspiration from Music

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Sometimes I’m asked where my inspiration comes from for my writing. Most of the time, it feels like ideas fly out of the blue. I’ll get a one or two-sentence long concept, jot it down, and then build it up into a more elaborate story. Every so often, I’ll be in the midst of writing a plot outline or perhaps even in the draft itself when I’ll get a song stuck in my head. A handful of times, a particular song has resulted in changes to the story, additions to a story, or wound up fitting the mood so well I developed a mental association between the writing and the music.

It’s been awhile since I posted something, and who am I to deny a sudden inspiration to ramble a bit. Here are some cases where a song has had an effect on my writing, inspired it, or developed a close association to it:

 

One More Run (Book 1 of The Roadhouse Chronicles)

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Nice Shot, Filter

While I was coming up with the opening scene of this novel, a wasteland-weary driver behind the wheel of an electric Dodge Challenger flying down a desert road, the bass line from this song came out of nowhere and got stuck in my head. Add to that, a car-to-motorcycle gunfight, and the song just fit too perfectly to ignore. I wound up titling the chapter “Nice Shot Man” since the song had been playing on loop in my head while writing it. The tempo of the music and even the lyrics fit the scene so well, if I get struck by lightning and this ever becomes a film, I’m going to lobby for it to be the opening track.


 

It Ain’t Me – Fortunate Son major-to-minor, Chase Holfelder covering CCR

This is a case where I hadn’t been expecting a particular song to influence the story. Usually, I can’t draft with music on because it distracts me. For some reason while writing One More Run, I happened to have YouTube going in the background and this song came up on random. The baleful, minor key got into my head and changed my early conceptions of the Dallas settlement from a typical outpost to a group of surviving US Military still holding it together as if the world hadn’t stopped. The sentiment of the song fits Kevin’s attitude at this point in the story – Someone’s gotta save the world, but it ain’t me. I wound up titling the chapter ‘It ain’t me,’ and added an old man playing the song on a guitar.

 

A Good Run of Bad Luck, Clint Black

For the Roadhouse Chronicles, despite it being a post-nuclear apocalypse with zombies, something about it made me want to impart a sense of a western to it as well. A friend had recently suggested I listen to some country music (after I said I didn’t hate it, which surprised her). This song wound up getting stuck in my head for a while. During edits, I wound up adding an additional chapter to the end of the book to (hopefully) create a more satisfying ending of the first in this series. This song fit the mood perfectly, and also lent its title to the chapter.


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Nine Candles of Deepest Black

Wither, Dream Theater

In the beginning of the story, Paige is severely depressed and struggling to find the energy to even get out of bed to go to school. I didn’t have this song in mind while writing the chapter, but later, when I heard it, it struck me how apropos it was to the story and her mindset at the time. During the blog tour for Nine Candles, one of the participants asked me to put together a playlist of songs, and this one leapt to mind right away.

Secrets, Bevin Hamilton

At one point in the story, a ghost is attempting to communicate with the girls, and does so by causing a computer to turn itself on and start blaring a song. I stumbled across this one while hunting for a song that might be appropriate for a ghost trying to call someone a liar. After sifting among the search results, I clicked on this one. The combination of title, lyrics, and the eerie harpsichord fit the mood so well I decided this to be the song. Alas, Paige doesn’t quite get the message right away.


fsop

A Ghost Among Fireflies

The Touch, Stan Bush

Okay, I’m dating myself with this one, but… While writing the short story A Ghost Among Fireflies, which is in my anthology The Far Side of Promise, this song came out of nowhere and lodged in my head. Early in the story, the main character is flying her spaceship into a gauntlet of defense satellites in an effort to reach a quarantined planet. While she’s dodging laser blasts and flying like crazy to keep from getting blown up, I had this song in my head. In this case, the scene made me think of the song, so it’s the inverse of where inspiration came from the song.


Zero Rogue (Awakened #5)

Menu_Awakened

(This book doesn’t yet have a cover)

Aqualung, Jethro Tull

In the fifth book of the Awakened series (which isn’t released yet), Aaron is wandering along and winds up sitting on a bench in the park. That tripped a synapse in my brain which brought this song up. Despite the story being set in 2418, I couldn’t help but work in a few referenced lines (since both characters involved are from London). This too is a case of the scene calling to mind a song, not so much the song inspiring the scene – though it did cause a bit of banter.


Dead Man’s Number

(Book 3 of the Roadhouse Chronicles does not yet have a cover)

Burn – The Cure

In the third book of the Roadhouse Chronicles series, one of the characters gains a measure of victory over someone they’ve been quite angry at for a long time, and as a message, blasts this song in the room while the target of their anger is bleeding out. My head filled with the mental image of the character slow-walking away with this music playing.


Emmacover2500

Emma and the Silk Thieves

(Book 2 doesn’t have a cover just yet, but here’s the cover for book 1)

Walpurgisnacht, Faun

During the second book in the Tales of Widowswood series, the Feast of Zaravex (a harvest festival) occurs in Emma’s village. Since the image of satyrs features prominently in that holiday (the deity Zaravex is depicted as a satyr), my brain linked the scene to this song and wound up hearing it on loop while writing the festival scene. In this case it’s a matter of synchronicity – the song fit the scene perfectly, but was not the inspiration for it.


Division Zero

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Memoria, Unheilig

Finally, an after-the-fact case. A few months after Division Zero #1 released, I stumbled across a German band, Unheilig. Their instrumental track, Memoria, struck me as the most perfect title music to use if Division Zero ever became a TV series. The haunting tech-influenced song captured the essence of the story – a woman dealing with ghosts and spiritual beings in a world overrun with technology.


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Well, there you have the most prominent examples of when music influenced my writing (or synchronized with it). If any other writers happen to read this, drop a comment if you’ve been inspired to write something based on a song.

Happy reading!