17th April, 2011: And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

I’ve mentioned before that music plays a big part in my writing and also in my writing process itself. While I may gain inspiration of songs or lyrics (Hang Wire, The Wasp in the Lotus being two very obvious examples), I also listen to music while writing and editing.

It’s entirely appropriate then that last night and went and saw one of my favourite bands, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead (I’m keeping that all in capitals because I’d get lost trying to do sentence case on their name). It was a marvellous (and very loud) show, and it was completely coincidental to (but a cool way to celebrate) the fact that I’ve just completed the bulk of the beta reader edits on Ludmila, My Love.

Most of that book was editing, you see, to …AYWKUBTTOD – in particular their new album, Tao of the Dead, and in particular particular the track Summer of all Dead Souls. See, lots of “dead” there. Quite apart from liking their music, this suited the tone of Ludmila. I warn you now: Ludmila has a lot of dead things in it.

I think when editing, selecting music that fits the mood or tone of the fiction can be of great benefit. Empire State was edited to the Inception soundtrack, which helped with tweaking certain plot twists and reveals as the music at times felt like it was really driving things forward. That’s not to say the resulting book won’t work unless the reader is listening to the same soundtrack – far from it – but it heightened my own awareness of what I wanted the feel to be, so as I was editing I was able to really focus.

Music for writing is a different kettle of fish. I know people who write to film soundtracks (like Inception, for instance), but that doesn’t work for me – a film soundtrack is designed to ellicit emotional responses and create moods. Once you have written your book and know its rhythms – the ups and downs, highs and lows, then you can try and match a film soundtrack. Inception was an ideal match for Empire State. But when writing, I a film soundtrack places all the cues in the wrong places, and brings in feelings and tone at the wrong time. When you’re writing, I don’t think that’s a good influence, because while you may have planned those ups and downs, etc, you don’t really know where they are (or why they are where they are) until you’ve actually written the thing.

But that’s just me. For writing I tend to listen to internet radio – Indie Pop Rocks on Soma FM, for instance, which plays the style of music I like but rarely anything I recognise. If I try to write to familiar music, it is too distracting.

So, back to last night. My attempt at gig photography:

Hey, it was dark. That’s my excuse.

Conrad Keely – he in black shirt playing the guitar there – is also an artist/illustrator, and is responsible for all of the bands design and artwork. Some of his exquisite pen drawings were available as numbered, signed prints. When I saw the steampunk airship diagram, I really couldn’t resist:

I mean, come on. It’s a mad steampunk airship, drawn by one of the two leads of one of my favourite bands, signed and numbered by him. That is cool. Actually, before forming a band, Conrad wanted to be a comic artist… which gets me a-pondering the artwork for Seven Wonders