I don’t listen to music as I write. I find it distracting. I do think about my characters when I am listening to music, though, and sometimes a lyric or melody will separate from the whole, and one character in particular will stand up to claim it. Then, every time that song plays, I will think of just that character. Their story and their relationships. It can be a very moving experience, particularly if the song is connected to an emotional aspect of one of my characters. Or a specific event.
Back when I was writing fan fiction (Dragon Age: Origins), I made the mistake of connecting a song to the death of my most beloved character, my Warden, Aedan Cousland. The song, ironically, is called “To Heal” by Underworld. “To Heal” was always destined to be a favourite. My relationship with Underworld has been long and fruitful, and the song (there are no lyrics, it’s all melody) is from the soundtrack to one of my favourite films, Sunshine. Long story short, it suits the moment in the film, and it suits the moment of Aedan’s death—which is not written from his point of view, but that of his wife, who feels him go through the magic of an amulet. To this day, I cannot listen to the song without getting misty-eyed.
I role-played a character called Andrew Banvard for about three years. I adored Andy. I sobbed almost disconsolately when I had to write his last post (I didn’t kill him, I retired him). But his music never fails to cheer me up, particularly his theme song, which is “Upside Down” by Jack Johnson.
Before I share the playlist for every character I’ve written, let me introduce you to Felix Ingesson.
Felix (Flick/Fixer) is the character I write for the Chaos Station series (co-written with Jenn Burke). His name is a deliberate choice. It means “lucky”, “favoured by luck” or “lucky one”. Felix survives almost four years as a prisoner of war, escapes, learns his family was killed in the war, and his lover—whom he hasn’t seen in five years—is buried so deep in secure military files, he may as well be dead. Still, Felix manages to survive. He lives on. In Chaos Station, he is reunited with Zander Anatolius (Zed), the love of his life, and over the course of the next year (five books), their love and loyalty is tested. Their ability as survivors will be tested. I figured he could use a little luck. 😉
When I first started writing Felix, a tune would nip at me now and again. Carolina Liar’s “Tell Me What I’m Looking For” describes many aspects of Felix’s journey through life. “Who We Are” by Switchfoot evokes Felix’s shared childhood with Zed. But it wasn’t until Jenn sent me a link to “Something from Nothing” that Felix stood up and started waving his arms around. Singing, yelling:
“Fuck it all, I came from nothing.”
And you know what? He did. Several times over. Felix is an angry guy, and in his situation, who wouldn’t be? He’s not ashamed of his parents and his humble origins, but he knows that without the help of Zed’s family, he’d never have been more than a station rat. His talent for mechanical engineering might have got him a job in the massive ship yards attached to Pontus Station. It was more likely he’d have used his wits to hack and steal, however, as he was already doing at age eight. He stole Zander’s wallet, after all. That’s how they met.
He came from nothing when he won a scholarship and graduated near the top of his class from the prestigious Shepard Academy. He came from nowhere when he escaped stin custody, and from nothing once again after the Allied Earth Forces discharged him, leaving him without family—the one he’d been born to, the one who had turned him into a soldier. Luckily, his mate Elias was there to catch him before he fell too far, to adopt him, give him something to live for again.
Felix named their ship Chaos because he is very well aware of what comes from nothing. Not just something, but everything. He lives his life by that law and often in defiance of every other one.
So, yeah, the Foo Fighters really capture Felix for me with this song—it’s almost like they wrote it just for him. And, as often happens, when I listened to my other favourite Foo Fighters songs, I pretty much decided they’d written them all just for our boys. Also, look at the album art for “Sonic Highways” (“Something from Nothing” is the first track), it’s all futuristic and stuff!
Does Zed have a song from the same band? Why, yes, he does (according to me). Next week, I’ll reveal which one it is and let Jenn talk about her favourites, too.