One must have a muse – mine is music and classical art. I have a fondness for all sorts of music, from Blackmore’s Night to Apocalyptica, and everything else in-between. I have been listening to Abigail Washburn and Jimmy Dale Gilmore and the Wronglers, and then I will suddenly be in the mood for Squirrel Nut Zippers and Cherry Poppin Daddies. Robert Plant, and Josh Grobin also live in my iPod, along with Tingstad and Rumbel, and William Joseph.
But for serious writing, it depends on the work in progress. For the current work, I have been bingeing on Blackmore’s Night for Huw the Bard, because their renaissance sounds inspire me to think in terms of the 17th century.
Huw the Bard is somewhat modeled on Ritchie Blackmore, in that Huw is a consummate musician and is passionate about the craft as is Ritchie.
He is young, darkly handsome and full of himself. Women love Huw the Bard. Nevertheless, he finds himself humbled beyond belief at the outset. In hiding and trying to escape the fate that befell his father, Huw becomes a starving vagrant, as he does not know how to hunt or even how to fish. Despite his father’s urging, Huw has not studied the sword seriously although he can somewhat protect himself with one. His weapons of choice have always been his knives, because they are flashy and showy, and before the destruction of the Guild, Huw was definitely a peacock. He has never killed a man, but finds himself planning and carrying out a deliberate murder.
There are times during the course of his adventures when Huw wonders if he is still a bard, and trying to instill that sense of loss into the story, without making it maudlin is tricky. My task is to somehow keep Huw’s sense of humor and his sense of proportion in the face of every tragedy and setback that happens to him.
On the other hand the music for Billy Nine-fingers, my other protagonist, has been Joe Bonamassa’s Live at Royal Albert Hall. Billy is a complicated man. He is young and despite a crippling injury he is determined to remain the captain of the Rowdies. To that end, he comes up with a plan born out of desperation. From the tiny seed planted by his unconventional resolution of one terrible event, a prosperous town will grow. Things happen around Billy, and anything that doesn’t actually kill him is fodder for a good laugh. He is big, bluff, genial and gifted with the ability to turn setbacks that would stop anyone else to his favor. Billy is a born leader and everyone has faith in him, despite his worries and fear of failure. His wry point of view gradually becomes somewhat cynical, but he never loses his love of life. Billy wakes up happy nearly every morning.
Surfing Wikimedia Commons for great art and renaissance master-works has the effect of keeping me on task. The right music helps me focus on the qualities of my characters, and keeps me in a renaissance mindset when I am unsure where to go with the tale next.