Character Theme Songs: Zander

Zander—or Zed, as we like to call him—is our white knight, our hero. But, like all heroes, that’s not all he is. The man is self-sacrificing to an annoying degree. He wants to SAVE THE WORLD, and everyone in it. His career has a soldier has taught him that he can’t. But, like all of us, Zed sometimes ignores that lesson and tries anyway. It’s who he is.

Zander Anatolius (portrait by Tami Santarossa)
Zander Anatolius (portrait by Tami Santarossa)

He’s still very human, though. He has wants and desires, and they can blind him to his ambitions on occasion. That’s a fancy way of saying he’s gloriously flawed. In Chaos Station, his initial attempts to save everyone meant slipping away and hiding from the world. Following a path to oblivion alone. He ignored and broke promises. Got a little selfish—and why not? He’d been cast adrift by the Allied Earth Forces. Put in a life raft with a puncture in one side, and his supplies did not include a roll of duct tape.

But, when called to action—first to find Emma, then to help her—Zed doesn’t hesitate. In fact, the only reticence he shows in Chaos Station is in rekindling his affair with Felix. And that’s another of those annoyingly self-sacrificing acts. He knows he’s not going to be able to be who or what Felix needs. But love conquers all, right? Or beats our protests into pulped submission. Or just makes us stupid enough to ignore all the other stuff.

So, Zed’s songs need to cover all of these things. It’s a tough call! A song I like for Zed is “The Pretender”, by Foo Fighters. The sound, the lyrics. I think all heroes are pretenders, on some level. They’re the last person to believe in themselves. Jenn and I also really love “Come Alive”. This song. It’s impossible to listen to it and NOT think about our guys and that moment Zed steps aboard the Chaos, and discovers Felix is alive. In that instant, everything he thinks and feels changes.

“You saved me the day you came alive.”

(Being saved isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, which is another theme we explore over and over in these books)

What does Jenn like for her character? I know she has sorted through many tracks on the way to finding Zander Gold. Here’s what she had to say on the subject:

Often when I start working on a new character, I like to find a song that fits some aspect of their personality or journey. Something that I can attach to them in my head so I can easily pull them to the forefront just by listening to it—which definitely helps when the character is new. (Sometimes the song precedes the character, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.)

When I started coming up with the concept for Zed—rich boy with some grit, a broken super soldier, a guy who has a well-developed martyr complex, and one who regrets losing the love of his life very, very deeply—one song in particular looped around in my brain: “Do I Wanna Know?” by the Arctic Monkeys.

There are so many parts of this song that just scream ZED! to me.

Listening to a song on repeat because it makes him think of Felix—this lyric actually inspired Zed’s musical talent, but beyond that, I could definitely see him doing this after he and Felix parted ways following graduation from the Academy.

Wanting to know if he’s alone in feeling the way he does about Flick—particularly after their reunion in Chaos Station.

Wondering if Felix’s heart is still open, if he still has a chance, and desperately wanting to kiss him, always.

Hiding himself and his feelings, but still wanting, still looking for the courage to say what he wants in the daylight.

Admitting that he’s never moved on, that he’s always belonged to Felix.

Not to mention, the song has that strong, slow beat and bass riff that just gives it a dark, steamy feel—which fits with the darkness in Zed’s personality. Also, it’s sexy. And these guys are nothing if not sexy.

Next challenge is to choose songs for the rest of the crew, individually and together. We should probably get them some art too. Elias wants art. Nessa’s indifferent to the idea and Qek is curious. Very, very curious. ♥

Character Theme Songs: Felix

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 Ingesson (portrait by Tami Santarossa)
Felix Ingesson (portrait by Tami Santarossa)

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!

"Sonic Highways" Foo Fighters
“Sonic Highways” Foo Fighters

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.