“Do you listen to music when you write and if so, who do you listen to?”
I do listen to music a large portion of the day. Depending on what I am writing depends who I choose to listen to. My play my writing pretty close to the chest and I have found, at least for me, the best way to get good work from me is if I almost live what the character is going through. Obviously, I cannot go through certain events like death and breakups and other forms of heartache on a personal level everyday, but I purposely put my state of mind in those situations and let them play out so I can see what sort of reaction I can bring out. Based on what I am trying to feel, I play music that gets me there faster. Obviously, if i wanted to express a joyful mood with my character, I will play more upbeat music while at other times, say when I want to feel what it’s like to have my heart broken by someone, I play much more somber music. While I am just free writing, I generally put on some sort of classical piece, generally something with a piano. I find the instrument quite comforting and I hope to learn how to play it some day. I obviously have my favorite bands and musical acts, but they aren’t who some would expect. When I was a teen, I listened to a lot of Nirvana and Pearl Jam and other alternative bands. While I do still listen to them, I rarely do while I write. Lately, it’s been a lot of Tool, The Delgados, Olivia Lufkin, Caroline, Velvet Revolver, and The Smashing Pumpkins. That’s just a small portion as I tend to listen to all kinds of music.
“What’s with you and Lisa Edelstein? Is she really your FB friend? Does it have anything to do with your book?”
One day, I was playing around with an idea. I watched all of the people I normally conversed with on Twitter and thought to myself “Who would play that person in a movie about their life?” The first person I remember thinking of was my twitter pal Melissa Foster. I looked at her photo and it reminded me of Lisa Edelstein who played Dr. Lisa Cuddy on House. I wrote a small tweet similar to “I choose @Lisaedelstein to play @Melissa_Foster in the movie about her life.” I went on to write other somewhat funny comments about other people, all of them flattering. I got a lot of positive feedback and some of my tweets were retweeted. Melissa got back to me and asked why I said that and I told her she reminded me of Lisa. Soon, our conversation shifted and it became “Lisa Edelstein would be a great Megan for my book Megan’s way.” We both liked the idea so it sort of snowballed from there. Melissa retweeted the tweet and I supported her by continuously retweeting something similar. Soon, I found that a handful of people were behind the idea and it went from there. Coincidentally, that was the same day that Lisa Edelstein started up a personal facebook account. Before I knew it, both Melissa and I were added to her account as friends. It was pretty interesting. Obviously, Melissa and I don’t know Lisa personally and many other people were added to her account as well, but it was sort of funny that the same day I created the tweet was the same day she did that. I think that’s why the idea took off so well because people were already talking about her. I later found out that Melissa was able to talk to one of Lisa’s people about possibly getting her a copy of Megan’s Way to read so she could consider taking a role in the film which is being developed about the book. She and I both know it’s a long shot, but it would be pretty amazing to look back at this a year from now and see it happen and think wow, I played a role in getting Lisa to do this film. As far as a connection to the book, there isn’t one. I did this essentially as a way to give a head nod to my friends on twitter. I wasn’t trying to make my name bigger by doing this.
“Chapter Five is hard to get through because of the material it covers. Was all that real? Did that really happen to you?”
As with all writers, we take certain aspects of our lives and put them into words that sometimes end up in our books. I will say this concerning chapter 5 and the entire book really…it’s all fiction. The book is fiction. Some of the things that happen in 5…did they happen to me? I really can’t say because people may make assumptions about other people in my life and I do not wish to cast certain others in a negative light. It was never my intention to make certain people from my past look bad. Fact is only those people who were there during those years know what happened to me. A few others I have spoken to may know, but that is for their ears and their ears alone. It’s a matter of public record that yes, I did suffer abuse while I was in my 20’s, but to what extent, I will not say. It’s not something I generally talk about unless I am being bothered by it and the person I choose to talk to had prior knowledge on said events. As far as the person who is looked at as evil in that chapter, the person who some might associate that character with in real life is a good and decent human being. Fact is we were simply toxic toward each other and that is ultimately what caused the issues. As far as that link is nowadays, we are civil. We do not talk all that often, but we both agree that being away from each other was the best thing we could have done. I still care for that person a great deal. You cannot spend that much time with someone and not care. I forgave them for what they did and I, by no stretch of the imagination, am innocent of any wrong doing during that time in my life. We both made very bad decisions. We also do not want them to haunt the rest of our lives. We can both look back at that time and think about the mistakes we made and know that we learned from them so we could hopefully avoid those issues in our future endeavors. In a future work, I may allude to more of that situation, but I have not decided yet.
“Is it true that you dreamed the entire book?”
For the most part, yes. The core idea for the book came from a lucid dream I had. It was so vivid that it stuck with me for days. I ended up writing the dream down as it was just something that wouldn’t leave me alone. I found myself having the dream over and over to the point where I thought about writing it down as more than just a blog post. That was really how it all got started. Through the process of writing the story, I continued to have dreams surrounding the book and I sort of just let those dreams write the book for me. Oddly enough, the original person I saw in my dream was not what ultimately led me to developing a character that came from it. While I saw that person, I heard someone else’s voice. Once I figured out whose voice that was, they are who became that character to me and I took it from there. Through the months I spent writing, I kept dreaming of that person and it was as if they were guiding my writing and helping me to develop the story. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced in my life. It’s one thing to dream of an idea, but it’s something else to have that person come to you again and again through the course of the writing process. I guess it can be attributed that once I figure out who that person was, I spent a good deal of time studying up on them and reading about them so it makes sense that I would have dreams about them every now and then. However, the dreams at one point were virtually a nightly occurrence. Even now as I am finishing up my followup to RH, I still have dreams of them and they aren’t letting up. I guess when I stop having those dreams, I may not want to write anymore. I can’t really say for sure.
“Will your next book offer anything else regarding the development of relationships between that characters?”
Yes. The story will continue, and in my next work Recorded Butterflies, relationships will be tested and everyone of the characters will go through something that will change their lives forever. One character in particular about halfway in gives up the ghost on something so tragic that it might change the way my readers look at them. I spent several days constructing how I would write it and I think I do it a great justice with the words I use and the way I weave the telling of that arch. I hope that the readers will notice the absence of a particular word through the entire telling of that arch and appreciate the way I managed to exclude it. Also, at the end, something so explosive will happen that it will leave the readers breathless. I promise though, as soon as I am done with RB, I will immediately start work on the next book to follow it because there will be huge questions that people will want answers to. It’s not a cliffhanger, at least to me it isn’t. A cliffhanger leaves you wondering what something could possibly be. I, on the other hand, provide you will an answer. The only question after that is how is the aftermath handled.
“In the book, you make small references to religion. Are you religious? Why did you make those references?”
I do not follow any religion. I did when I was a kid, but that was sort of forced. As an adult, I tend to ask more questions and that seems to piss off some religious people. As with other matters, I don’t wish to make people angry on that front. I just don’t understand some of the things people take as fact regarding it. I’m not exactly against religion. I look at it this way: if religion helps you get through your day and makes you a better person, then I say have at it. As with most other things in the world, it’s the few bad apples that make religion difficult for the rest of us. As long as you’re not out killing people or forcing your beliefs on anyone else, I am ok with it. I think of myself as agnostic. I’m not really sure what there is and if there is something, I will accept it as long as scientific proof exists. The religious mentions in the book are played against the characters themselves. There is a little more to those images and I leave very very subtle cues that some people may not pick up on as I don’t generally make everything literal. While no character has come out and said that they follow any particular religion, I’d like to believe that they would at the very least be somewhat spiritual; some more than others. There is one particular image that is given in the book that will play out across the entire series of books. Religion will be explored more in the next couple of books, in the third most notably.
Be sure to catch part three.
Just something to help get away from all the seriousness of the last couple of days. Enjoy.
A short time ago, I did a quick review of Caroline Lufkin‘s 2006 album Murmurs. It’s only fitting that I now do one on her latest record Verdugo Hills which was released January 25th, 2011. As with her previous record, Caroline stays close to her slower tempo and whisper-like voice roots with this record, providing a harmonious and pleasing sound while delivering the goods as far as quality.
Diving right in, the opening track “Balloons” gives you a feeling of listlessness as you are slowly lifted off your feet by Caroline’s haunting and caressing voice, a very slow drum beat releasing you of your stressful day. The song is rather short, clocking in at only 1 minute and 16 seconds, but it’s clear that it’s not meant to make much of an impression beyond the fact that it prepares you for what’s to come later in the record.
The second track is, by far, the sweet and heart warming Caroline that we all know and love. Starting with a wispy and ghost like voice, “Swimmer” explores your inner most feelings as its slow tempo and complementing lyrics wrap their soul around you and pull you onto an imaginary dance floor, compelling you to move along with them. Caroline’s voice doesn’t plead with you to join her, but you begin to feel that if you don’t, you will miss out on the solace and serenity she brings to the proposed meeting. As the track wraps up, you feel the urge to have her continue singing, only you know that this kind of exuberance cannot last forever.
Track 10 is another that doesn’t fail to deliver classic Caroline, but this time with a little more than you expect. With some of her songs, Caroline, at times, seems like a minimalist when it comes to her voice. You feel as if she were holding back from you so that she would be able to impress you with her light and satisfying voice without giving it all away too soon. Occasionally, she does purposely bring a little more for you to yearn for. “Gone” is just such a track where she offers you more flexibility in respect to her vocal talent. The song is also more up tempo which also lends reverence to her ability to offer more than just a few airy-voiced slow songs. While it is still very much a Caroline song, it lets you know that she is willing to go to a few different areas musically so that she can offer her listeners more variety and prove that she isn’t some one-trick pony.
While I do appreciate her obviously singing ability, the song “Waltz” offers very little of it as far as quantity. Lending her voice to the track for only a handful of lines forces you to appreciate the tune itself and the music quality. The few times we hear her voice is pleasing, but it’s absence, at times, leaves you feeling empty and slightly unfulfilled. Knowing how distinctive her voice is, I am sure Caroline purposely selected it’s pronounced absence from the song, asking her audience to really give credit to the music used and not just her vocals.
Looking back and re-listening to Murmurs definitely lets me know that Caroline, in a musical sense, is still the same woman she was in 2006. She does expand upon her original idea though, leaving you with a strong sense of satisfaction for purchasing Verdugo Hills. While I have listened to her 2008 release of the Murmurs remixes, I still find the original much more pleasing to the ear, but that is simply my personal preference as I have grown so fond of her voice. With Caroline, I find myself appreciating her work though so I do still, from time to time, listen to the remixes. I will however say that her vocals in some of those tunes is so choppy it takes away from what I love about her the most.
If you haven’t done so already, definitely check her out on iTunes and Amazon and give her a listen. If you haven’t heard the track “Swimmer,” I have included a link to her song on youtube so give her a listen when you have the time. You may find that she will, with a single song, change your taste in music.
It’s not often that you run into a musical artist with any sort of true talent as far as vocals, let alone writing. In today’s music industry, it can sometimes feel as if we are being spoon fed manufactured pop music which is no better for your soul than fast food is for your health. Through my various ventures in the world of music outside of the United States, I’ve happen upon a handful of truly terrific artists who definitely bring something to the table when it comes to real talent. One of my first discoveries was Olivia Lufkin. With her array of pop, rock, punk, electronica and, at times, borderline metal sounds, I figured her for one in a million. Little did I know that musical talent seems to flow through the blood of not only her, but most of her family. While checking out the latest Olivia news, I came across a lesser know artist which turned out to be her sister, Caroline.
While not nearly as successful as her famed sister, Caroline has slowly emerged as a force in the realm of eletronica and experimental sound. While she did recently release an album in January of this year, I’d like to focus on her first full length album. Murmurs, at a glance, doesn’t seem like much, as it’s cover art lacks the flash and glamor of many Japanese Pop artists. All you see is simply a girl laying about with a flower in her hair, and across the top of her record reads simply “Caroline.” Nothing flashy in the least by todays standards, but this is a classic case of you cannot judge a book by its cover…or in this case, an album. Once you pop in your disc, you are greeted by the warm and, at times, seemingly playful voice of Caroline as she spreads her appeal out for all to admire.
The standout track, which you are sure to find on Youtube, is “Bicycle,” a haunting yet angelic tune that finds it’s way into your heart and proceeds to take you on a journey. It’s softened trumpet opening caresses your ears right before Caroline’s angelic voice pulls you in and asks you to give her your attention. It’s slower paced and story-telling theme almost reminds you of something you may have experienced in your childhood; perhaps the first time a young girl discovers love and the effect it has on her soul. As the song progresses, you are lulled into a sort of trance that envelops your senses and just as you think you have developed a liking, perhaps even a love for the journey, it is indeed over. As soon as it concludes, oddly enough, you may find yourself looking for the back button on your player, the feelings of listening to it again overtaking you.
Another standout is “Drove Me to the Wall” which has faster pacing than that of “Bicycle,” but just as haunting. It’s soft musical accompaniment works well with Caroline’s light voice as she stretches her singing talents, pulling off a superb vocal performance.
“Everylittlething,” which is spelled correctly in this case, introduces a slightly heavier electronica sound. Still bringing the goods vocally, Caroline explores a more playful and somewhat less serious side to her music while still pulling you into her world. The track sounds as if it could evolve into a dance number if she’d decided to speed up the tempo. However, you will find yourself thanking Caroline for keeping it mellow as the song brings a comfort into your heart and lets you relax instead of beating your head against a wall as most dance music seems to do.
While far from mainstream, Caroline lets everyone know that she isn’t just another Pop Princess (she is known for turning down a major label recording contract simply because they wanted to make her “too pop”) as her music and voice are more than enough to make her a well respected artist in the industry. Filled with airy and wonderful vocals as well as soothing and sometimes fragile beats, Murmurs is a rare gem in this watered down, manufactured pop era.
I cannot write the way I want to at this point in time. I can’t sleep right and when I do it’s for minimal 10 minute intervals. I am awake and asleep at the same time and i cannot break this vicious cycle of restlessness. I am inspired and demotivated, I am dreaming during my waking hours and the stories never stop writing themselves. They unravel and distort, the truth is cycling through me like a virus on steroids. When my eyes are closed I can feel a presence, but I don’t know who it is. I hear a merry go round, but it only goes around in a hellish cauterizing and illuminating feverishness that binds my thoughts together with super glue. I have no feelings yet i feel it all, the weight of an audacious animal biting at my strength. I’m interconnected and losing my signal, I am running in circles without a set number of degrees as I travel in time that has suddenly stopped. I’ve just about had it and the taste of pomegranate sticks to my palette, these sleeping pills leave me in a daze. The dreams will keep coming so I better keep running, my pen attached to my finger tips is dripping of ink and it never quits. So write on I must and face the distrust of the human condition despite premonition. This can’t be real.
You know what the greatest holiday gift for me is? No, it’s not the super special awesome wool cap I asked for or the gift cards i got. Sure, spending time with my family was great and while I do appreciate that, I have to be a little self centered here and say that coming up with the perfect climatic ending for my book is the best thing. I woke up today and it was all just there, as if i dreamed it all the night before. I was up at about 5am on my own, and not because it was Christmas because honestly, I don’t really care too much for the holiday anymore. Yet on this day, I figured out the ending to my work and I couldn’t be happier. It’s so simple yet so perfect that I don’t even have to outline it to remember. It’s engraved in my heart and mind, so much so that you’d have thought I lived it. I have only one other person to thank for this literary bounty. Have a good holiday and be safe.
The big build up is almost done. Chapter 19 turned into something I wasn’t really looking to do, but it turned out really well. It had the main character conversing with two people familiar with his situation and one of them finally made a real impact on him. Chapter 20 has him doing something completely out of character for him and as he does it he is trying to figure out why and how it will all work out. 20 will also bring back our long ignored 2nd lead, but she will appear toward the very end of the chapter as most of it will be focused on the journey to her and not necessarily feature her. The 2nd major part of the storyline is to be written very soon and it seems my dreams have pushed another idea into focus. Olivia once again has sent a little nugget of inspiration to me and it makes the climax in 21 seem much easier to write.
Another bomb dropped and an argument with a surprising end. Chapter 18 was tasty stuff. Very happy with it. I wanted it to be a shorter chapter and it was, but boy was it explosive! I still cannot understand why I feel I do my best work in the middle of the night. Here is it, 430 at night and I just wrote chapter 18 in about 2 hours and looking back at it, I think it’s some of the best dialog I’ve done in the entire book. Chapter 19 sees our main character doing something he said he’d never do. Should be interesting to write it.
Had the English final today. I think I may have freaked out a few of my classmates and maybe my teacher as well. When I write, I tend to get in a zone, either by listening to music or almost talking to myself as a song plays in my head. I knew that although the class had been relatively easy for me up until this point, I really wanted to bring the goods and prove to myself that I could successfully write and edit a paper in less than 30 minutes. After the exam time started, I sat there staring at the ceiling for about 5 minutes, drumming my fingers rhythmically on my legs. I was playing Olivia Lufkins “Lettuce Garden” in my head the entire time and sure enough, about 10 minutes in, it hit me and i started writing non stop for 20 minutes. I got 4 pages down and took 10 minutes to edit and make corrections in spelling grammar, and word organization. I felt like 100 ton train barreling though the exam like it was nothing, popping out sentences left and right and from time to time, i tossed my head back to break my view of the screen so that I may continue my train of thought…so to speak. I rocked my head back and forth and started mouthing the lyrics to the song as I wrote, which inadvertently drew the attention of at least 3 of my classmates and I am sure a strange look from my instructor.
Needless to say, I felt it was one of my best works and I hit my 30 minute marker I had set forth without so much as breaking a sweat. Most of my class mates were struggling to make the 2 page minimum requirement while I managed to blast that wall to pieces rather easily. Thanks goes to my beacon of inspiration, Olivia Lufkin, once again. With a single song I was able to burn that building to the ground and show not only myself , but my peers that I could do it.
There was no school today. My day felt empty as it appears I have grown accustomed to always having somewhere to go and be. I woke up at 8am this morning which is an oddity for me. My earlier class used to be at 10am so I would usually set my alarm for 9am. Sleep is escaping me lately and my dreams are turning horrific for some reason. I am not sure why either. I was able to get a final done and I am sure I aced it so why was I feeling so out of sorts? I found myself in one of my books called All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve. I do love her style of writing, it’s creative and clustering theme seems to rise and flow with the sea and it’s character development is paced just right. I started the book in September, but shelved it as I was trying to concentrate on school for the most part along with writing my novel. The only problem I am having is that I cannot put a face to her characters.
Generally when I read a book, I can picture some one, sometimes an actor or a person I know and assign that image to the character so I can play the book as a movie in my head. I am having trouble doing this for some reason and I know it’s not her fault. He book, while a little long, is terrific and it’s keeping me enthralled. I keep thinking that writing my novel is in a way tearing at my soul. My sleeplessness is getting progressively worse as I am now having to rely on chemical methods to ensure I sleep a decent amount of hours. Without, I tend to toss almost constantly and when I do sleep, it’s for perhaps 10 to 15 minutes at a time. I keep finding myself waking and looking for the clock, even though I do not have anywhere to be. In the event that I do have to wake, I always set my alarm, yet I still find myself waking up and looking at the clock. I am beginning to think that I may purposely start to face the clock away from me at night so that I may not give into temptation.
Through all this, there is no sound. It is eerily quiet and it almost disturbing. I used to love the quiet as it allowed me to read uninterrupted and there are times when I do play my music. In fact when I write, it’s very rare that I do not have something playing. In the time I spend on my novel, I usually have artists like The Verve, Katie Melua, Kevin Macleod, Smashing Pumpkins, and of course Olivia Lufkin playing lightly for me in the background. Still, from time to time, I hear nothing but silence and I find myself sitting and staring off into space.