She speaks to me on the wind
If I listen closely
That red-headed, freckle-faced girl I once knew
It's the only way I can hear her, now
Of life's harshest lessons
Howard was going mad, he was sure of
it. Of late, each time he sought the solace of sleep, he awoke
terrorized, drenched in sweat, trembling. These were no ordinary
nightmares, he felt. Quite often, he was unable to allow himself to
return to slumber, the visions frightened him so.
His wife offered little consolation.
“Try some warm milk, dear,” she would opine. He spared
her the grisly details, lest she too become affected.
Subsequently, he occupied two hells, a
waking one, and a dreaming one. The conscious one, in which he was
perpetually tired and cross, was still infinitely preferable to what
lay beyond the wall of sleep.
En route to work each day, he found
himself intensely annoyed by the presence of a multitude of filthy
foreigners, and began to imagine a connection. Perhaps it was voodoo
being practiced upon him. He had no proof, but this seemed most
likely. Arcane black magic conducted by the never-ending stream of
newcomers to his once proud neighborhood.
After weeks of distress, he sought out
the opinion of a psychiatrist. In secret, of course. Psychiatry
struck him as the white equivalent of voodoo, at some base level of
thought. But it was here that he began to unburden himself. It was
here that the madness touched his soul in full.
He saw a future world occupied by
gigantic sentient beetles, humanity no longer extant. A desert mad
man enacting dark rituals. A breech in the fabric of time and space
that resulted in a flood of indescribable creatures issuing forth to
creak a havok heretofore unthinkable.
But most of all he saw...It. Chanting
men in robes, undoubtedly foreigners, summoning a great beast from
beyond the dimensions we can perceive. An entity so foul and alien,
it was entirely without motivation as we understood it. To look upon
it, to feel its thoughts radiating outward, a rapid blast of
unknowable symbols, was to lose your humanity. The creature didn't
feel hate toward us, or even contempt. It simply destroyed without
emotion, as though its very nature was death.
And it had a name. Cthulu.
is what frightened Howard the most, lending it the air of truth.
Never a creative man, he felt it impossible that such in-depth
realism could be the creation of his own tired mind. He
might ascribe it to the very powers of Hell themselves, except this
alternate reality seemed to dwarf Christian Hell in terms of horror.
In fact, it made the very idea seem comforting.
He longed to
die and vanquish his suffering. To end it all before his visions of
the future began to come true, as he surely knew they would.
Putting these things into words for the
doctor did, in some small way, comfort him. They made his somewhat
abstract thoughts concrete, thus painting them with the brush of
reality. He realized that he was, to his relief, not going mad, as
such. In fact, he felt he was to be commended for dealing with the
enormity of the situation as well as he had. Lesser men would have
crumbled, collapsed, begging for the safety of the asylum.
The uncomprehending doctor of the mind
prescribed him an opiate sedative.
“No dreams with this
stuff, no sir. You'll sleep the sleep of the dead.”
If only he could trust death to be
Howard walked home, deaf to his wife's
inquiries, and sat at his desk, putting pencil to paper for the first
time in response to his situation, and began to write.
Somewhere in a future time, members of
the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society posted endless pictures of
Cthulu to Facebook, transmitting them to the past.
Long before I got serious, um,
serious-ish, about writing, I was a musician. And before I was a
musician, I was a music fan. Consequently, I find my writing infused
with musical themes, on various levels.
I have always been struck by Stephen's
King's work ethic. Write ten pages a day, he points out, and you'll
have a novel every two months or so. I don't work like that. But he
has also stated that he loves to blast music while he writes, often
metal or classic rock. The Talisman, for example, has an extended
sequence during which he listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival's
“Run Through The Jungle” as he wrote, and it seems to have had a
noticeable influence. The text doesn't give it away, but when you
learn about that and read it, wow. He sort of transcribed music into
I also don't do that. I tend to write
in silence. But at the same time, my books are usually not too
removed from the world of music. I've done that in several different
ways, now that I think about it.
Least often, I just write about music.
In Pageburner, Paige attends a Bad Brains concert in New Orleans.
This afforded me an opportunity to talk about one of the best
concerts I have ever attended, while at the same time, driving both
the plot and character development.
But music is also a part
of Paige's life. She listens to The Cure at home alone, wallowing in
self-pity. Her friend Bryce sends her MP3s of his nerd raps. When she
goes clubbing, it's retro night, where she gets down to Lords of Acid
and other bands that invoke feelings of nostalgia in her. I think
these details add an air of realism. Consider how many novels you've
read in which no one ever listens to music at all.
slightly more sneaky level, I interjected bits of old school rap
lyrics into the text itself. It's seriously understated, but if you
have a depth of knowledge about that genre, you'll encounter little
phrases throughout the book that might make you smile. It's sort of a
secret club. I'm not sure if any such fans have read that one, but
still. It's nice to know they're there, just in case.
At other times, I have used a song as
the basis for an entire novel. Radar Love is sort of an expanded
telling of 'Life in the Fast Lane' by The Eagles. I'm not even sure
how that happened, but I use snatches of verse to introduce chapters,
and there's an amazing correlation there, however unintentional. This
is sort of the main theme, but there are also leitmotifs that support
the overall arrangement. One of my favorite parts involves Don Henley
himself, actually. I'm pretty proud of the way that one worked out. I
really need to get a copy to him so he can sue me or whatever.
Hurricane Regina can be said to be my
Bjork novel. The character herself is named for The Sugarcubes' song
'Regina', and there is the additional use of a Sugarcubes song in the
course of the romance that develops as the story progresses. Rapture
is a location in the book which comes directly from that lyric. A
record store in Iceland, in fact, sets the stage for a pivotal scene,
which was originally the ending. It turned out to be the mid-point of
the story, and I'm glad I pushed on. And if you're really paying
attention, Bjork herself makes a tiny cameo appearance.
One of my later, unfinished-as-of-yet
experiments is a retro piece set in the 80s thrash metal era. Chapter
one is purely Mercyful Fate's 'Don't Break The Oath', and I think I
listened to that album twenty times in between writing that single
chapter alone. The music helps to define the character of the female
protagonist, and also serves as a friction point between her and her
ostensible love interest.
Perfect Me has a few nods to comedic
genius Rappy McRapperson (the character President Gorlax), and my own
former metal band, Gortician, which has evolved into a planet and a
race of people. The sequel, Cure for Sanity, takes a slightly more
serious approach in a sub-plot, which involves some lyrics invoking
nasty Lovecraftian beasts from beyond.
I guess this is an
extension of 'Write what you know', or perhaps, 'Write what you
love'. I think music can be an effective shorthand in conveying
certain feelings, and finding a common ground between author and
reader. There is a danger, I suppose, in placing too much burden on
such devices, and having the meaning lost on readers who don't know
what you're referring to. But I strive to find a balance that doesn't
make the story dependent on them, but instead uses them as
Do you have a favorite piece of music that
invokes feelings within you? Explore it in your work. Properly
employed, they can add a rich layer of meaning to your writing. At
worst, you might get a cease and desist letter from The Eagles.
Win/win, I say.
I am reminded daily that most people have no idea of what cryptocurrency is, or why it matters. By now, you may have heard of Bitcoin, the leading crypto. But even that is questionable, and chances are you don't know what it is, if you have heard about it at all.
I didn't write this to explain crypto to you. But in a nutshell, it's a new form of currency, electronic in nature, and anonymous. It is basically credits that you can purchase with paper money, and spend online, or later convert back to paper money. But it can also be 'mined', or earned for performing tasks. It also works well for tipping and micro-transactions.
It can increase or decrease in value based on things like availability and demand, which can be quite nice. There's a lot to like about cryptocurrency. But whether you like it or not, it's here to stay, and will only gain more prominence.
Well, it's incredibly bloody useful. Beyond that, it's about to become the de facto for things like 'Coke Reward Points' and frequent flyer miles. But it's really about branding.
When Coke realizes it can create CokeCoin out of thin air, for an investment of a few million, it is going to do it. Everyone will, at some point in the future, have their own currency. Corporations, universities. Yes, even people. Each currency will have a value assigned to it that is derived at least in part based on reputation. A dollar from Joe might be more valuable than a dollar from Bob.
Don't worry. All of this stuff will be handled invisibly, for the most part. If I want to buy from you, but you only accept Flappycoin, and I only have Dogecoins, we'll just go through an exchange without either of us having to do anything.
My point is that the prevalence of cryptocurrencies is only going to increase. I can easily imagine it exploding in a way most people can't imagine right now, as is often the case with new technologies. Get ready. Or not. Meh.