So you can read my books

Monday, May 9, 2011


Some things are universal and eternal :

hate, terror, and love.

They are the subconscious melodies in the background of humanity's thoughts. It sounds surreal but it isn't :

Mankind shares a soundtrack.

Music is the breath of humanity as a species. Anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, neurosurgeons, and psychologists attest to it.

They belive the area in the brain which processes music actually gave birth to human nature.

Music predates agriculture. It existed before language. Its melodies promoted the cognitive development necessary for speech.

Americans spend more money on music than they do on prescription drugs or sex.

On the average, they listen to music at least six hours a day. For many it is the breath of their daily lives.

In Sanskrit breath is called prana, the very breath of life.

That breath is filled with vibrations :

the cry of a lost child, the wail of a bereaved mother, the shattering of a store window. So many sounds in a single night of terror, creating a haunting melody ...

a French Quarter nocturne for a mortally wounded city. Its name?


I was one of its notes.

Though I have a Master's degree in Psychology and a Bachelor's degree in English education,

I, like so many others, survived as best I could.

And so I found myself working as a blood courier to New Orleans in order to support myself. I used that experience to aid me in writing the Noir Fantasy, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE.

With a name like that, it involves music. How could it not? Its actions centers in the French Quarter, the birth place of jazz.

It is important to the lead character, Samuel McCord, too.

It is no coincidence that he owns a jazz club. A jazz club he named after his wife, Meilori.

Music to him has become a remembrance of shadows, an echo of times spent with friends, and a glimpse back into a time when he was loved.

He is a monster who mourns the loss of his humanity. So much so that he nutures it in the souls of those who pass his club, lost and hungry.

McCord sees life in terms of music. When he first views the flooded streets of New Orleans, he hears Bette Midler singing, "I think It's Going To Rain Today" ...

... especially the refrain "human kindness is overflowing."

He championed the tragic jazz legend, Billie Holiday. His wife's favorite song was Billie's "You Go To My Head." He hears it throughout the novel.

And when he is facing his death before overwhelming odds, he once again hears that song before murmuring the one name he promised himself would be the last on his lips :


And why is all this important to you as a writer?

What is the musical score to your novel? Every good book has one : stirring, haunting, light with laughter, or heavy with sorrow --

or all of the above. The music of your novel is the heart of your novel. And the heart of your novel is your pitch to the agent.

Think of the image on the posters for the past five movies you saw.

It evoked a sense of the story to the movie. If you could look into the past, it would have been the essence of the pitch to the studio heads for the movie itself.

Like every good melody, the structure of your novel is comprised of two intertwining themes :

A) The physical goal of your hero ... what she/he wants.
B) The spiritual goal of your hero ... what she/he needs.

The A theme is what attracts the agent/reader to your story.

The B theme is what keeps them there, what brings them back to re-read it again and again, making your novel a classic ...

and a bestseller. Why not work to make your novel one of the great ones?

Music is all about transformation.

You are not quite the same after hearing a good song. A good novel is about the same thing :


Your hero has emerged transformed at the end of your novel, taking your reader into the process.

It all comes down to that one moment of faith :

when your hero takes that leap into the darkness, not knowing if he will survive --

only knowing he would not be able to live with himself if he did not make the attempt.


  1. I've read more than a few posts on the importance of music, but this takes the prize! You said important things well, and it's much apreciated.
    I have a friend who paints and listens to the same album for the whole work. That may be tedius for a whole book, but something similar may be helpful, like a playlist for each character, or act.

  2. Ooooo, good points and illustrations. I honestly don't know how anyone could write without music.

    Wasn't it a character in Eddie and the Cruisers that said something about words and music?

    Did you know our DNA makes music? It's mentioned in the Bible and science has proved it.

    I hope you're getting some rest after your grueling day! Take care and I hope your week is kind to you :)

  3. Will :
    Thanks for the kind words about my post. As you mentioned in your comments, each of my main characters has a composition that I often hear in my mind when I write of them. Scenes have their own melodies to them often as well.

    Sam McCord's last great battle in a realm some call Hell had DARK CHEST OF WONDERS by NIGHTWISH as its core melody. I wish you success in your publication dreams.

    WordsCrafter :
    This grueling weekend was certainly one for the book! I pray that your health quickly improves.

    I'll have to do research on our DNA and musical notes.

    Tomorrow I am off, so it THOR in 3D for me! Have a beautiful week yourself, Roland

  4. Yes, I agree! Music makes us feel our characters more as we're writing.

  5. Music is about transformation, so true! My novels do have soundtracks. I love to create new playlists for each one of them to inspire me!

  6. Jeana :
    I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling I need music to write.

    Heather :
    You make me feel not so alone in having soundtracks for my own novels. I burn cd's to use as I write as well. We're kindred spirits, you, Jeana and I! Roland

  7. I often listen to music when I'm writing certain scenes, or trying to find just the right mood for a story.

    Love this post!

  8. Hi, Golden Eagle!
    Yes, me, too. I used THE LAST SAMURAI's "WAY OF THE SWORD" when I was writing the climatic scene of BLOOD WILL TELL. It certainly helped me keep the mood. Have a great new week, Roland