by Joshua C. Chadd
Music is my life. Ever since I was little I‘ve always loved music. In middle school I received my first iPod and I was on cloud 9! I could finally take all those CDs and put them on one device to listen to! It was mind blowing!!! Thinking back to that fat iPod classic makes me feel old, things have changed so much since then and I’m only 26! Back then, while doing homework, I’d listen to music to focus and now I listen to music as I write. It’s almost impossible for me to write without it. It gets me pumped when the scene in a book is ramping up or it can bring me to tears writing the death of a character.
Onto the real question: How do I take that love of music and put it into my books?
If you’ve read any of my Brother’s Creed series then you already know the answer to that. I have my characters listen to music. James and Connor are two brothers that learn about the apocalypse and so they do what any smart person would do. They get all their gear, load up in a truck, and head out on a road trip and like on any good road trip, they make an epic playlist: the Apocalyptic Road Trip playlist! Throughout my books these characters are listening to music as they drive across a ravaged America. But they don’t just listen to any music; it’s mostly zombie themed rock music of course. I mean it’s the end of the world, what else would you listen to but heavy metal and rock?
For me as an author this was not only fun, but it helped set the mood in some of the scenes. Most people will just read the title of the song in the books and move on. But those that stop and look up the lyrics to the songs (which I would put in the books if it wasn’t against Copyright law), they will see that the songs are actually woven into the story and scenes, not just thrown in. The songs add depth to what the characters are feeling and going through in the moment. This is how it is in real life. How many of you have a song you listen to when you’re sad? How about one when you’re angry? Happy? To focus? To workout and pump yourself up? I know I do.
See, music is a lot like writing. They are both forms of art. They help convey a meaning, concept, feeling, etc. So of course that means they work very well together. Want an example? Here’s an excerpt from my newest book, Wolf Pack:
“James couldn’t help but laugh. The situation was far from humorous, but he laughed anyway, and it felt good. Their friends were in grave danger—in fact, they were all in danger. Still, he needed to remember to live in each moment; otherwise, what kind of existence would that be? As the laughter quieted, James realized his brother was right—again. Everyone made their own choices. It was Tank’s choice to follow them, not his and not his brother’s. He couldn’t take that choice away from Tank and claim responsibility for his actions. That was up to him alone. Just like Peter and the group had decided to follow them. They’d made their choice, and even though it’d cost some their lives, it had been their choice to make. James still felt somewhat responsible. He always would, but it couldn’t all be on him. That kind of responsibility would break him. He had enough troubles to deal with as it was and he didn’t need to add to them.
“I guess it’s time we decide where to go,” Connor said.
“Yeah, I don’t wanna be a sittin’ chicken,” Tank said, smiling.
“Let’s head back toward Sheridan and take the first exit east. Find a house out there to set up in until we figure out what to do,” James said.
“Sounds like a plan,” Tank said, stepping on the gas and turning the Hummer around.
Cold by Five Finger Death Punch played through the speakers as the empty bus disappeared into the darkness behind them. James left some of his guilt with that bus. The rest he would carry with him until the day he died.”
Now, if you just read that and move on, then the song probably isn’t very impactful. But let’s take a second and look at the lyrics to Cold by Five Finger Death Punch:
“I’m gazing upward, a world I can’t embrace
There’s only thorns and splinters, venom in my veins
It’s okay to cry out, when it’s driving you insane
But somehow someday, I’ll have to face the pain
It’s all gone cold…
But no one wants the blame
It’s all so wrong…
But who am I, who am I to say?
My heart’s an endless winter filled with rage
I’m looking forward to forgetting yesterday
It’s all gone cold…
And no one wants to change
It’s all so wrong…
But no one wants the blame”
I don’t know about you but when I listen to that song it makes me feel sad, angry, and hopeless. A perfect fit for how James is feeling right then. It’s awesome to take something that is auditory and put it into a book and have it be almost as impactful as listening to it. So, long story short, I love music and it is not only part of my writing process but something I include in my books when I can. Now, I will just have to try and figure out how to put rock music in a fantasy series… maybe I’ll just have to make it GameLit and then have the character listen to it while he plays. That’d work, right?
Anyway I hope you enjoyed my little rant. If you’d like to see exactly how I did this in my stories you can check out my books on Amazon.
Also if you’d like to listen to the full song Cold by Five Finger Death Punch you can here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM22MM8xgfQ
From my desk to you,
Joshua C. Chadd