Soundtracks to Scenes and Books

Perhaps a lot of writers do this, but there are some scenes that as I write them or rewrite them, a song pops in my head. From that point forward, every time I hear that song, I think of the corresponding scene. Occasionally, a song will just remind me of a whole book, either matching in tone or forever tied to a memorable lyric. If I’m lucky, in the middle of edits I’ve got a song I can play for inspiration that invariably makes the scene better.

For example, I can’t hear Linkin Park’s “What I’ve Done” without thinking of Scorched. The lead character in that book, call her Missy or Kallista or Kat, has quite a past. The tone of What I’ve Done and the lyrics fit her predicament perfectly:

I’ll face myself to cross out what I’ve become
Erase myself
And let go of what I’ve done

I also think the song has a bit of a dystopian or darkly urban vibe, which also fits the book.

On the other hand, many of the songs I associate with specific scenes in my military scifi books are instrumental. If you watch TV, you’ve probably heard music by Two Steps From Hell. Their work has been featured in ads for blockbuster movies as well as commercials. They are a great source of inspiration for starship battle scenes or poignant life-or-death situations.

Even their titles fit: Victory, Heart of Courage,… there’s even a track called “Blackheart,” a name that might mean something to those who have read This Corner of the Universe.

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Best of the Blog – About the Ships

In the last “Best of the Blog” post, I collected posts about military history stories that have inspired aspects of my books.  This time around, I’d like to reminisce about some special ships in the books and in some cases the artists whose work helped bring them to life.  Artist names below link to their gallery pages on DeviantArt, a great community that I often browse for inspiration.

My very first book and very first ship, the Brevic corvette Anelace, mostly gave me fits about her name.  Naming Anelace was hard because she truly seemed like a character.  Those are names I agonize over, and good old Ana took a long time.

When Captain Heskan moved on to BRS Kite, he gained a much bigger ship and I took another step in laying out ship systems.  BRS Kite’s inspiration came from the great work of Joachim Sverd.  I assigned technologies to the various details in his design as shown below.

(click to enlarge)

Heskan had a big reason to switch ships again (no spoilers!), and this time he found himself in AV Elathra, inspired by the artwork of Orpheus7.  It was fun to invent technology around some of this ship’s most prominent features, like the long forward wings and what essentially looks like a keel at the bottom.

(click to enlarge)

By far my most detailed imagining of the interior of a ship came with Confidence Game’s Zanshin.  The artwork of Mike Doscher helped a lot.  Zanshin’s external cargo points and internal decks took some time to lay out, as you can see in the blog post Details of Zanshin.  As a bonus, you can read about where Zanshin’s shuttle got its name as well!

(click to enlarge)

It’s been a lot of fun to bring each of these ships into my stories.  I’ve thanked these artists before for letting me use their work, but I’m happy to highlight them once more and hopefully send a few folks their way.

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An Easter Egg in No Way to Start a War

Today has me thinking about Easter eggs of a different kind, as in little hidden gems in TV shows, movies or books meant as homages or little jokes.  I occasionally toss them into my books… have you ever found one?

There’s one in the prologue of No Way to Start a War.  The prologue was my hopefully clever way to recap Book 1, This Corner of the Universe, using an official report by the Board of Inquiry of the Brevic Navy.  The report details the losses sustained in Captain Heskan’s engagement at the end of Book 1 in official military fashion, passes judgment on the conduct of the crew of BRS Anelace, and proposes medals be awarded to certain Navy personnel involved.

It’s in that section I added the following:

57. The Board concludes that the following personnel are eligible to wear the Badge of Military Merit for wounds suffered in action against the enemy:

a. All personnel noted in subsections 32 (posthumously) and 34 for reasons stated.

b. Lieutenant Commander Shane Durmont – Laceration – Wounded during subsequent repairs to and inspection of ANELACE.

Wait, what?  Lt. Commander Shane Durmont was not a member of Anelace’s crew, he was Heskan’s planetside supervisor back on Hulda.  He came for Heskan after the battle for other reasons, so how could he have been wounded?

Leave it to Durmont to use any opportunity to plump up his naval record.  He knew how to manipulate the system for his benefit.  He was “wounded” when he cut his finger while walking the corridors of what was left of Anelace, inspecting the damage done to the navy’s asset long after the danger had passed.

Happy Easter!

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