Monday, August 26, 2013

The Song Remains The Same

I like playlists. I do. I have a good number of them. I have some for when I'm exercising and others for when I'm writing.

Want to know something? I don;t listen to music when I'm reading. When I'm absorbing a book I want nothing to interfere. If I listen to music and the author is telling me about a song, the music I hear and the song the author has mentioned will very likely clash and that will annoy the sin out of me. So I don't listen to music.

And when I'm writing the music is very, very low. Almost inaudible. It's there mostly to help distance me from other sounds around me. When I lived with my wife and her family there were a lot of sounds. I needed the music to distract. Now it's just me, the widower, and the music is a habit I neither want nor need to break.

Mostly when I listen to music is when I'm driving. And when I'm driving I listen to a LOT of music and I think. And a lot of times the two processes together make stories happen.

A few years back my wife and I were on our way to vacation and as always happened, we were driving. We liked to spend the time together, sharing the sites, the music and each other's company. Sometimes we talked and other times we just enjoyed each other, but always there was music. We took turns choosing.

On one particular occasion when it was relatively quiet we went from listening to the soundtrack to The Sopranos (Volume One) to The Sickness, by Disturbed.  Between the two of them, I started having a notion. First, the song The Beast In Me, by Nick Lowe stuck in my head. A cheerful little tune about dealing with your anger and the little voice that tells you what you should do. That got me thinking about Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's just that sort of song.   And then there were all the light fluffy (insert serious sarcasm here) songs on the Disturbed CD. Seriously, by the time I'm done listening to Disturbed in most cases, I could gleefully shatter a man's face just for the sheer joy of it. (I don't listen to Disturbed much these days, but I do love their stuff, especially that first album).

We drove for a long while and before we had reached our destination, I had the first notes of my own little symphony in place. I do not write music. I write novels. My idea came down to this: What if a kid found out he was a monster part of the time? A modern day version of Jekyll and Hyde? I didn't want to use the same premise, of course, so there had to be changes. No drugs. That's been done to death along those lines. No, instead I would play with genetics.

And what if there was more than one of them? And what if they didn't KNOW about each other? Or about their other selves?

There was a lot to work out, but that was the start. The soundtrack of my journey became the start of something I truly enjoyed. I worked out the details while listening to the exact same music and a few more titles besides, usually, in this case, songs about rage and violence. a good deal of heavy metal and a splash of gangsta rap with just a few old classics to balance it out.

The book was called The Failures, initially. Later it became SUBJECT SEVEN and the sequel, RUN. They were my first serious attempt at YA fiction and I enjoyed them immensely. In the not too distant future there will be at least two more novels in the series. The times they are a changing and I'll have a different publisher, but there will be sequels because I'm not done with the story yet. I hate leaving things unfinished. And when I start writing, or maybe even before, like as not, I'll be pulling out my Disturbed CDs again. And maybe I'll watch a few episodes of The Sopranos.

I don't do playlists. Except, of course, for when I do.