Saturday, March 16, 2013

Music and Writing By Travis Simmons

Inspiration for writing can come from many sources. Chief among them (for me) is music. There is a feeling in certain songs I get, an overwhelming emotion. At times those emotions manifest as an image of a character and their struggle. Certain songs will strengthen that image; they go with the theme of the story. I always have music going it seems and when I am thinking of a story, sometimes songs will play on Pandora or my music player and I have to jot them down, because they reflect the tone of the story.
    But what does the music have to do with my writing? I am not sure if the song acts like a blurb for the story in my mind, or if it just gets me in the right mindset to write. For instance, when writing fantasy I often listen to music like Enigma. New Age music helps to ease me into the romantic elegance of fantasy.

    Lately I have found myself submerged in more Earthly fiction, though it is still weird fiction. Because of this, I find I am listening to more and more “Earthly” music as I write.

    I am a huge fan of Florence and the Machine. She has this really wild, erratic feel to her that captures so much of the frenzied souls of my characters. She has this romantic elegance that really helps capture everything I aim to capture when I am writing those really raw moments of a characters emotions.

    Another one of my favorite singers is Lana Del Rey. She has this amazing voice, this really genuine, organic presence. The music she sings isn’t shy, it isn’t ashamed. She paints this image of herself in her music that seems to say “yea, this is me and I am not ashamed because I know most of you are more messed up than me.” To me, her singing is emotion. She sings about things I think a lot of people are too scared to sing about, and she delivers it so beautifully, so hauntingly, that you can’t help but get wrapped up in the moment, in the story she is painting. Her music is so very full of sadness.

    Recently I was writing a survivor’s tale of a zombie apocalypse. This isn’t one of those “let’s go kill some zombies in gruesome fashion.” It is a story of survival after the apocalypse is in full swing. The main character is a very tortured soul. In fact, most of the people that have lived through it are pretty torn. Asher has had to kill his family when they changed to zombies. One of the most haunting memories he has is holding his dead little sister when the change took her. He is a very brave person that has had to do many things none of us would ever want to do. Through it he keeps his integrity, but at times his sanity is thrown into question.

    Lana Del Rey sang a song that matches so perfectly that struggle. Dark Paradise was easily the theme for that book. (Oddly enough as I am editing this entry Dark Paradise randomly popped up on my music player.)

    Now, when writing The Mirror of the Moon, I initially went off on some pretty in depth tangents. I partially blame the music. I was writing what the orchestra was making me feel, and that was pretty deep, it was very descriptive, and it was at time pretty infuriating. After cutting nearly 120 pages, the book is really awesome. Enigma was on the play list for The Mirror of the Moon along with Dead Can Dance, Secret Garden, Enya, and Loreena McKennit.

    Music plays such an important part of my life. I seriously have music going wherever I am, even at times I have my laptop in the bathroom playing music when I shower. I am not one of those people who stay abreast of the latest news of my favorite artists, and I can’t tell you when the next hot CD from Florence and the Machine will come out, but when I see one I am sure to buy it.

    I would love to hear what you guys think of some of my favorite bands and even hear suggestions of who I should check out. Music really helps shape my writing, what does it help you do? What are some of your favorite songs and why? I can’t wait to hear back from you!


The sound of children laughing in the street outside gusted through the patio doors, ruffling the gossamer curtains and bringing the soapy smell of flowers to her. The knock sounded again, and she pushed herself off the sofa and went to answer the door.
The Tall Stranger, looked worse than Angelica had remembered him looking upon their first meeting. With a gasp she took an involuntary step back into the room, which gained him entrance.

“Don’t worry,” he said. Listening to his voice gave her the same feeling that coming in contact with his wyrd for the first time did; she felt as though insects crawled over her. “I can’t use my wyrd against you for someone has stolen it from me.”

JOVE! she screamed down her link to her brother, but he must have been too far away from her because there was no response.

The first punch caught her by surprise and sent fire through her jaw. She stumbled back and almost fell into the divan. Quickly she regained her footing and took a defensive stance, which only made the Tall Stranger laugh at her.

“Don’t think this will be easy for you,” he told her matter-of-factly. “I am a skilled fighter.”

“So am I,” Angelica said and took a swing at him. The Tall Stranger easily ducked away from, kneeing her in the stomach as he sidestepped, effectively pushing her off balance and knocking the wind out of her.

An elbow to the back of the head sent her mind swimming, and her body crashing to the floor.

“I told you this would not be easy,” he chided. He straddled Angelica and, gripping her hair in his fist, pounded her head off the wooden floor twice. Blood flooded her mouth and drizzled out her nose even as darkness formed in splotches at the edge of her vision. A strange thought came to her then that told her she was losing consciousness.

The Tall Stranger lifted her from the floor and threw her face-first into the wall. Angelica stumbled, arms reeling as she tried to gain her footing again, but it was in vain. The darkness at the edge of her vision became more than splotches, and soon it was not only invading her vision, but her muscles as well. She stumbled into a table near the door. The knick knacks and unlit oil lamp smashed on the wooden floor and oil soaked into the Balageshian run.

Blackness chased her into oblivion.

Moments later strong yet pliant arms lifted her and sat her on something soft, yielding, and when she forced her eyes open it was to look into the warm encouraging face of Rama.

The attendant cupped her hands before her face and Angelica could feel the gathering of wyrd. She had never thought sorcerers were as prominent as they were here in Fairview, but she was wrong.

The space before Rama’s face glowed with power, lighting her face in golden relief. Angelica had never seen a message orb wyrded before.

“Dalah, emergency, Joya has been taken, Angelica beaten, the room penetrated … somehow.” In haste Rama stood the folds of her red gown rustling as she threw her hand out toward the patio, the golden ball of light quickly tracing its way to the intended recipient.

 Author Bio

I have been writing since I was 14. I began writing a book called "The Calling of the Two" and while writing that on and off I started uncovering another idea.

"Yes, this is all well and good, but what about before? What happened in the world before these characters came into it?" I always knew there was a "before" and as I started wondering about it I got ideas. At first they were little ideas but as I discovered the names for my characters a whole story about them emerged.

I started working on The Revenant Wyrd Saga several years back and I am very happy I did because hearing and documenting Jovian and Angelica's story has been one wild ride.

I live in a remote part of upstate New York and honestly just hoofing around my neck of the woods gives me a ton of inspiration for my novels. I love research, and I love speculating on different ideas and theories.

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  1. Thanks for sharing about the inspiration

  2. Great post!! Thanks for the giveaway!!