April 2012


I’m sorry that we are a bit late in announcing this, my fault entirely! Thank you to everyone who entered, there was a great response.

The winner of Ava March’s bundle is ELIN GREGORY

The winner of my bundle is KIRSTEN

(Here’s a screencap of my draw so you can see it’s all above board!)

Well done, both of you, Carina will be sending your prize very soon. (probably after they’ve recovered from RT….)

Thanks for playing and I hope you both enjoy all the books!

The last post in this series sees three more writers revealing their musical inspiration.

Elin Gregory 

I’ve had masses of inspiration from music over the years. Jethro Tull’s Songs From The Wood inspired a long bildungesroman that I would love to work up into a novel. It’s about a hill with a wood on it flanked by two villages, King’s Norton and Brynlas, where the villagers protect the secret of the wood – a fully functional shrine to the celtic god Nodens – and in return benefit from the god’s protection. High jinks ensue when one of the hereditary protectors turns out to of a lavender persuasion. But there is sheep and beer, darts and village against village football and general good times to offset the edgy bits. I have 90k words of it, some of which I stored on Skyehawke. Cup of Wonder has most of it in it.

But these days I prefer something with a more epic scope and less recognisable lyrics so *blush* I quite enjoy listening to Two Steps From Hell aka Nick Phoenix and Thomas Bergersen. They write music for computer games and are – did I mention epic? They are the most epiccy epic in the history of epicness!  Best of all, since I don’t play computer games I have NO mental images to go with the music so can apply them to anything.

This one – Heart of Courage – has everything one might need to give a story a boost nicely compacted into 2 minutes.

I’ve also been listening to uillean bagpipe music for my Romano-Celts. Dark Slender Boy seems appropriate with its minor keys, especially since most of the story is a bit on the down side…

1940s swing music hits the spot for Sam Hobbs, my lame shepherd, and I have a whole playlist of 1920s songs for Winstanley Briers Winstanely and Miles Siward.

But usually I don’t play anything while I write. The music works away on my subconscious while I do other things – like ironing or driving – and I have memories of the feel of it later.

Louise Van Hine 

I wrote one book in the form of a symphony in five movements, and another book in the form of a set of etudes.

BTW I stole the idea from Anthony Burgess, a composer/novelist who wrote “Napoleon Symphony” as a sort of a spoof of Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto and “Napoleon Symphony” – the Fifth which was dedicated originally to Napoleon, until he crowned himself Emperor.

Charlie Cochrane 

I always have something on in the background when I write – favourite music of the moment, sports commentary or sometimes an audio book. While I’d find it hard to say (with one exception), “Oh, that song inspired that character/story”, the music itself makes me want to write, if that makes sense. Vaughn Williams’ Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis gets my creative juices going every time.

The exception is a song called “Boeotia”, by Matt Alber (track six here). When I heard that song I had to write a story based around it. I don’t know enough about the time when Alexander and his father were conquering half the known world, so I cheated a bit by having the historical bits happen within dreams – that’s how “Dreams of a Hero” was born.

Alex Beecroft:

Music doesn’t seem to work that way for me. For a start, I don’t listen to much music these days, except when doing housework, and that tends to be trance music without any words. I did listen to a lot of 18th Century sea shanties when I was writing my Age of Sail books, and they were excellent for letting me know the kind of things that the sailors of the time thought and said about themselves and their lives. I also listened to classical music of the time, so I could hear the soundtrack of the officers’ lives. I think that gave the overall setting a bit more texture, but nothing really became part of the story in such a dramatic way that it could have said to have inspired scenes or plot points.

Oh… oh, I lie (or at least, I have just remembered something.) Actually I did watch a TV programme about the castrati, which featured male soprano Michael Maniaci, whose voice is amazing. Listening to him sing inspired me to make John Cavendish in False Colors a countertenor and gave rose to the scene in which Alfie persuades him to sing and is awed by the result.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8GnxqotJiw

KC Warwick:

The music running through my mind while I was writing ‘Prove A Villain’ was Vaughan Williams ‘ Fantasia on Greensleeves’.  ‘Greensleeves’ always reminds me of Elizabethan times, though I must admit that I smile to myself when I remember Michael Flanders’ wonderful monologue on  ‘Green Fleeves’, (this chap Anon’s writing some perfectly lovely stuff, but no one seems to know who his agent is…) Sorry, I digress.

Erastes:

I’ve never been one to constantly have music on, I’ve never owned a walkman or an ipod or anything like that. I seem to have entirely skipped the CD generation and most of my records are vinyl. And I have nothing from this century, either, to the horror of the children of a friend who visited once!

It seems entirely incongruous but while I was writing Transgressions I was addicted to Billy Holliday and would play her obsessively on repeat while writing. The era is completely wrong but the “he was my man and he done me wrong” soulfullness was entirely right at the time.

Mozart’s Requiem sparked a plot line in Standish where Rafe’s son dies and he holds an enormous funeral where he meets up with Ambrose again. But I never actually wrote that, because it seemed entirely out of character for Ambrose to allow such a tragedy to bring them back together. So I dumped the entire idea which broke my heart as I adore that particular requiem.

I can hear a piece of music and have it paint pictures in my head as to what is going on–there’s a piece of music  (Polovetsian Dances by Borodin from Prince Igor) which very clearly tells me the story of a war-hardened warrior and him falling in love for a young recruit all bare chest and no chest hair. I haven’t allowed myself to watch the ballet, because I know jolly well there’s no such plot line in it. But it has sparked a bunny and the notes have gone into my “to do later” file.  Probably around the time of Ghenghis Khan. Oh great. More research.

Charlie Cochrane

I was having a google chat with Elin Gregory when (as often happens) things took a daft turn and we decided it would be a good idea to ask some of our favourite historical authors whether music inspired them to write – and how. Turns out it wasn’t such a daft idea – we had some great responses, which I’ll post here over this week.

Anne Barwell:

I’m one of those individuals who puts together soundtracks on occasion but the music isn’t exactly reflection of the time period, more the characters/storyline. “Sounds of Silence” – Simon and Garfunkle, “All It Takes” – Stellar (NZ band), “Touch of Your Hand” – Glass Tiger, “There You’ll Be” – Faith Hill.

Lee Rowan:

Hm… It’s seldom a single song. Andrea Bocelli’s “Con Te Partiro” (the original, not the duet with Celine Dion) is pretty much the theme song for the Royal Navy series. I almost played Bocelli’s “Romanza” album, and Bryan Adams’ “So Far So Good” and Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat,” to pieces. And Jackson Browne’s “Lives in the Balance.” Totally out of period, but the right emotional note.

Winds of Change, Eye of the Storm — The soundtrack for Master and Commander. Also Romanza and Sogno, Bocelli, (What can I say? I don’t understand much Italian, but the flow of words and a strong tenor… mmmm. and October Project’s two albums.

Home is the Sailor – mostly Enya, for some reason.

Walking Wounded, Mellissa Etheridge’s “Yes, I Am,” and Bocelli, again — also Carlos Nakai, a Navajo flute player.

Tangled Web was a mix of all of the above, and Chanticleer, and the Windham Hill Solstice albums. And, in all cases, probably several things I’ve forgotten.

Finding the right music really helps.

Ruth Sims:

I have to say that music has influenced everything I’ve written (admittedly a very small list). Music, in particular the music of the 19th century Romantics such as Chopin, Liszt, Mahler, Debussy, Tchaikovsky (I never said I could spell the blasted name!) and perhaps first, of course, Mozart and Beethoven. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who has read either The Phoenix or Counterpoint: Dylan’s Story. Music that digs deep into my emotions always makes me write. And often cry. Song on the Sand, my favorite of my short story-ebooks, was completely inspired by the lovely song by the same title from my favorite play, La Cage aux Folles. While writing Counterpoint, I listened day and night to violin music, especially that of Josh Bell. Of course that gave me an excuse to have lots of pictures of Josh Bell all around.

Charlie Cochrane

Tommy Walker, “Toad”, took a quick look over the edge of the ditch.  “Coach is comin, Jack,'” he whispered to his friend as he struggled to pull up his pants.
“Bugger!” Jack exclaimed, scrambling up from his knees and fumbling with his own attire.  “Schedule must be off for sure.  The bloody thing shouldn’t be along for another . . .”  He glanced at the timepiece dangling from his waistcoat.  “Half-an-hour, at least.”
“Not to worry, love,” Tommy said.  “We’ll finish up after they’ve gone by or those chaps with the pistols on the other side of the road have done their business with them.  Don’t think I could keep it up if there was any shooting and yelling.”
Here are Charlie and Owen from the Dr. Fell series transported back in time to some anachronistic and unspecified College Compleat with random Captalization and Over-Excited Verbs.  Plus, some Extraneous Authorial Actions and Meta-Moments and an UnWarranted Instrusion from the Wrong Tom Brown.

Non amo te, Dickus Spotticus

Charles T Winkerton inspected the contents of his package glumly.  His assignation with a Burly Brute down by the waterfront had left traces, nay, irrefutable evidence, nay, the Mark of the Beast was upon him.

He rebuttoned his placket, and whimpered.  His bosom buddy and boon companion would be here at any moment and he was afflicted! Sorely stricken!  And there was the small matter of his twice-skipped meeting with his Nemesis Tutor, Dr. Benjamin Rock. His Sensible Cousin, Richard Winkerton, should have arrived last night to rescue him from his Muddle. It wasn’t like Cousin Richard to be late.

“Woe!” wailed Charlie.

There was a tap at the door, and Charlie bit his pouting lips and flung the door open.  At least he would look blooming and pink-mouthed for his Best Friend, Owen, and would not be reproached for being Out of Looks.

“Beloved Boy!” he trilled, and then gulped.  It was his Formidable Landlady, Katherine de Medusa. 

“Hello Kitty,” simpered Charlie, hoping his Charms would be Lucky. 

“You’ve been summoned. The Proctor has had enough of your dockside exploits, playing hooky, and all around failure to be a Serious Student.”

“Hooker!” wailed Charlie. “But I’m free!” He frowned. “Wait! How does he know?  How do you know?”

“I read his note,” said Katherine, and tossed Charlie a crumpled piece of paper covered in a crabbed black hand.  “And the proctor knows all!”

She flounced away passing Owen DeCoverly on the stairs.

“Well,” said Owen. “She’s in a fine taking!”

“Owen!” wept Charlie.

“Heavens,” said Owen. “Are you still declaring, declaiming, denouncing, and…”

“Oh hush up!” snapped Charlie. “I am very into verbal.”

“I think you mean oral,” corrected Owen. “A common conflation of the two words. Damn! Now you’ve got me doing it.  I should never listen to you.”

“That,” sniffed Charlie, “is aural. And, I’ll have you know, I never talk dirty!”

Owen walked backwards out the door and re-entered. “Good morning, Charlie!  How are you this fine morn? I see the roses are blooming in your cheeks!”

Charlie rechecked his placket. “Owen! I am in a Terrible Situation!”

“Again?” said Owen, resisting his urge to yawn his reply.

“Yes,” said Charlie, so distressed that he forgot to Verb.  He flopped into a chair and then sprang up again as the Burly Brute’s Bestowal Bit him in the Butt.

Owen sniggered. “Another Fundamental Problem?”

Charlie checked his placket yet again.  “Stop it, Owen!”

“Let me get to the Bottom of the Matter,” giggled Owen taking over the verb duties.

Charlie rolled his eyes and huffed. “Owen! Cousin Richard promised he’d take my Oral Exam for me and he’s not here! ”

Owen’s chortles crescendoed and cascaded and Charlie Tossed the Dictionary out of the window.

“Plain speaking,” he exhorted, and glared at the final Said Synonym as it Sailed towards Defenestration.

Owen nodded, and took a deep breath. “Carry on,” he said. 

Charlie and Owen paused to check for Verbs, and then they continued. 

“And now I’ve been summoned to the Ologist’s Office!”

“I don’t think you should call him that,” said Owen. “A Slip of the Tongue could be your Doom.”

“Very well, The Proctor wants to see me.  I think my Tutor has sent me to have all my crimes dealt with in One Fell Swoop.”

“Oh dear,” said Owen. “He’s going to switch you?”

“No, pay attention!  I was going to switch with Richard!”

Owen put his head in his hands. Conversing with Charlie made his brain hurt.

“You’ll have to face him.  Tell him the truth about whatever he asks. You know what he’s like about Fallacious Boys.”

“Owen! I never – “

“That’s not what Dr. Benjamin Rock’s valet says.”

Charlie blushed.  Was his prowess Common Knowledge?

Owen patted his arm. “Charlie, no one thinks you passed your first year exams any other way.”

“Oh! Oh!  So not fair!  I did pass them!  I’m a pineapple of perspiration and knowledge.”

“I think I need a verb back,” hooted Owen. “Charlie, go to his study and see what he wants. Remember: a switch in time saves nine!” 

“Oh, hush up,” whimpered Charlie succumbing to a verb.  “If only Richard were here.  He knows how to Handle a Pickle.”

Owen hooked his arm in Charlie’s and walked him across the quad. 

“I’m going to my execution! I’m going to be beheaded!”

“Doing it a Little Too Brown,” said Owen as they paused while a man flashed by in pursuit of a Tom cat.

“I’m like Lady Jane Grey!” wailed Charlie. 

“You’re nothing like her!” said Owen. “She was only a queen for nine days.”

They paused at the Door of Despair.  Charlie quavered and quivered.  He raised his hand to knock. “I do not like thee, Dr. Fell,” he whispered. “The reason why I cannot tell… wait yes, I can!  It’s because you are Mean and have a Switch.” 

Owen grabbed his wrist. “Wait! Charlie! I think I’ve Spotted your Dick!”

Charlie checked his placket and sighed in relief. He was still buttoned and, oh!, his Sensible Cousin Richard was crossing the quad.

He would not have to face the Proctor without his Stalwart Supporter after all.

www.SydMcGinley.com

www.InLocoDomini.com

Apologies for the Faint Smell of Fish (starring the actor laddies from Home Fires Burning)

“Apologies, apologies, apologies, apologies. For the faint, for the faint for the fai-ai-ai-ai-aint, for the faint smell,” the singer paused imperceptibly and took breath, “for the faint smell…of fish. Of fish. Of fish. Apologies, apologies, for the faint…” and she was off again.

Toby groaned. Modern avante bloody guard opera? You could go and stuff it. Give him a nice Gilbert and Sullivan patter song, any day, or something swish by Cole Porter, but not this load of old cobblers’.

“Remind me why we’re here,” he whispered into Alasdair’s ear.

“Supporting the boss.” Alasdair grimaced, making his heavily insured eyebrow dance an expressive jig.  “Surely you can’t have forgotten his protégée? She’s loud enough.”

“Protégée? Is that what they’re calling it this week?” The girl didn’t have a bad voice, she was pretty enough—in a Junoesque way—but why on earth had she decided to launch her career in such a dire production? The Fishmonger’s Daughter. Even the title made your flesh creep.

***

“This should earn us plenty of credit.” Toby sighed. The relief of the interval, the even greater relief of the bar and a glass of red wine, the greatest relief of their companions for the evening having gone to powder their noses—at least he and Alasdair could steal one moment of quiet pleasure.

“Not the best faux-girlfriends they’ve ever foisted on us.” The eyebrow flew up again.

“More ‘protégées’, do you think?” Toby shrugged. “Still, if we smile for the cameras and applaud in all the right places, we’ll get to go to the bucks’ do.”

Boxing, Bethnal Green, black tie and not a woman in sight. Landseer actors out in droves to promote the new film about a gentlemen boxer of Victorian times. Toby couldn’t wait. Maybe there’d be pre-bout singing—it couldn’t be worse than what they’d had to endure in the first few acts here.

“I’ve never been to a boxing match before.” Alasdair seemed equally delighted at the prospect. “Will there be lots of blood?”

“Gallons, I imagine. And styptic pencils and grease and all sorts of black arts being practiced in the corners.” Toby laughed. “Good, honest sport. None of your sissy rubbish.” The last remark had not been just for the benefit of bystanders. Gay they might be, but effeminate they were not—which was all to the good as far as the studio was concerned.

“I’d like to see you try it.” The glint in Alasdair’s eye—the same glint he’d used in their pirate film—spoke volumes.

“Me in shorts, dripping sweat?”

Alasdair swallowed hard, concentrated on his wine glass and whispered, “Stop it” from the corner of his mouth.

“Landseer wouldn’t let me. Spoil my looks.” Toby grinned. “And here come the girls.”

“Maybe that’s a lucky rescue, for once.” Alasdair got his best welcoming smile ready.

The five minute bell sounded.

“Seconds out, round two!” Toby said, brightly. “Prepared for more haddock, ladies?”

The girls giggled, Alasdair rolled his eyes. Business as usual.

Although Toby could have sworn a certain voice breathed, “Wait till I get you on the canvas”, in his ear as they sauntered back to their seats.

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 857 other followers