A few weeks ago I read and reviewed David Colby’s Debris Dreams. I mentioned then that I’d been looking forward to it since the moment I heard about it. It really didn’t disappoint. It’s part of (what I’m hoping becomes) a trend of super smart YA sf that doesn’t dumb itself down for younger readers. It doesn’t rely on romance to propel itself forward, and it’s so well written, I wish it was for adults so I could convince some of my other hardcore sf friends to pick it up. Yeah, I said it. You think I’m snobby? Heh. YOU HAVE NO IDEA.
Anyway, when I knew the blog tour was coming up, I asked Kate (the head honcho over at Candlemark and Gleam) if she thought David would be interested in writing a post for us about the music he uses for writing. Her response was that it would likely make his day since he’s always making playlists (see, he and I should totally be best friends, TAKE THAT SUSIE!)…and then, like, an hour later, I had this post in my inbox. I may have also made a few notes of commentary (hint: I totally did). Enjoy.
Music for writing is a very strange topic—at least for me. A lot of my friends compose massive playlists that hew to the tone and themes of their WIPs. I’ve never had the head for that, if only because my musical tastes are bizarre and relatively narrow.
Just like my taste in food!
Wanna know what this is all about? You’ll have to read the book!
Still, I do think that what tracks I listen to has a relationship to what I am currently writing: I like something energetic for when I need to get pumped, something depressing when I’m writing something happy, something upbeat when I’m writing something depressing. But since I have so few musical likes, I think it’d make more sense to talk about specifics than to talk about generalities.
Let’s start off with the songs that are now intrinsically linked to Debris Dreams: Drive in the Sky by Mikio Sakai, Wonderful Life (also by Mikio Sakai) and Sun’s Gone Dim by Johann Johannsson.
Drive in the Sky and Wonderful Life are the opening and closing songs to the astoundingly good, hard sci-fi anime PlanetES. PlanetES was a major inspiration for my writing of Debris Dreams, as it is a show about a team of space garbagemen. Since debris in orbit is a major issue (in Debris Dreams, PlanetES, and real life), the story of garbage collection and debris management is really quite exciting and interesting. It helps that the animation that goes along with both songs are perfect encapsulations of our space program’s humble beginnings and the height that it can one day reach.
And, amazingly, it does this WITHOUT excluding Non-American space explorers. Star Trek: Enterprise, I am still disappointed in you.
However, if you listen to these songs, you’ll find that they’re…rather upbeat. Debris Dreams is, for the most part, not exactly the sunniest book out there.
That’s where Sun’s Gone Dim comes in. I heard Sun’s Gone Dim in the astoundingly evocative and exciting trailer for Battle: LA. While the actual movie overdid the shaky-cam just a bit much (if you ask me), the trailer is a chilling, exciting one that tells very little about what the actual movie is going to be about while still making you excited. And the song—a creepy, slow, somber piece—is awesome all by itself. It perfectly suits the detached feeling I was trying to create in Debris Dreams.
HONORABLE MENTION: The entire This Is War album from 30 Seconds to Mars. I love this album, and listened to it CONSTANTLY while writing the book I wrote just before Debris Dreams. So much so that I can’t listen to Kings and Queens without imagining six teenagers fighting transdimensional spiders with weaponized metaphors, World War I-era rifles, and swords [ed. note - Um...what is this book that I totally want to read? David, we need to talk.]. So, if I hadn’t written that book first, This Is War would be listed here.
But there are some writing songs that are divorced from any particular book, which I love listening to while writing anything. I have recently acquired a taste for Katy Perry’s songs – Firework, Hot and Cold, California Girls (I blame the awesome Equestria Girls parody used for a MLP:FIM commercial) and Teenage Dream [ed. note - David, I'm totally pretending I didn't see this. I like you too much to make believe Katy Perry is okay. I'm not even linking to her on my blog BUT I LOVE MLP:FIM, so I'm totally linking to the parody.] are some of my favorites. But I also have an occasional taste for… I don’t know enough about the rap scene to know if Eminem still counts as “hardcore,” but he swears a lot more than most songs I listen to, and a few by him—Won’t Back Down, specifically—have caught my ear and ended up on my iPod.
HONORABLE MENTION: Everything by Weird Al. I love his songs, love his stage presence, love him in general; I even love his underrated comedy UHF which remains one of my favorite comedies ever… right up there with Galaxy Quest and Mystery Men.
So, those are the semi-well known songs that I like, but I’d hate to end this without talking about two bands that are slightly more obscure, but that I love to death for totally different reasons: Memmaker and Abney Park.
Abney Park—which I am currently listening to a lot due to writing a semi-steampunk alternopunk magitech novel—is an awesome combination of electric-rock and STEAMPUNK-themed music. Accordions, synths, and great lyrics makes for songs that really make you feel like an air pirate. If you listen to their songs and don’t want your own zeppelin, then you have no soul [ed. note - David, I swear it's like you're my long lost little brother, or what my oldest will be like in 10 years. You're scaring me.].
But if Abney Park is past-punk, then Memmaker is future punk. Industrial-techno? I think that’s the best way to describe their sound. It’s eerie and strange, but has a driving energy to it, intermixed with the occasional stolen remixed quote made into part of the song. The first song by theirs that I heard—Get your Ass to Mars—is a combination of their music and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dialogue from the fantastic Total Recall.
That’s going to come in handy when I start working on Debris Dreams’s sequels…
HONORABLE MENTION: Heart of Courage, by Two Steps from Hell. Listen to it and try not to feel like the most dramatic thing ever is happening. Right now. It is music that has been written, crafted, and sculpted into the perfect expression of “trailer music” and by the gods, it works. If my novel is ever made into a movie (HAH!) [ed. note - I totally want this to happen AND I hope I'd be invited to the premiere, just sayin'.] that music would be used by the trailer.
Debris Dreams is out November 13 (THAT’S TOMORROW!). While it’s too late to get in on the Kickstarter goodness, you can still watch this awesome video David made to help encourage presales. If this doesn’t make you want to read this book, I’m not even sure why you’re still reading my blog. [wink]
But seriously, go read my review and then head over to the C&G shop to pick up a copy for yourself. Or, you can come back here tomorrow to check out something fun I worked on with David and try to win a copy for yourself!