Thus ended my musical career.
But even though I can’t produce music, listening to it is important to me. It can give me energy, relieve boredom, get me in the proper frame of mind to tackle some task. I think music is important in fiction as well. It can tell us a lot about a character’s personality or mood. Is he listening to Rachmaninoff? Randy Travis? The Ramones? When Dylan Warner, the protagonist in my novel Good Bones, listens to the Decemberists and Pink Martini, we get the feeling he may not be the stereotypical werewolf. And when we find out that Chris Nock, the guy he lusts after, has a penchant for Molly Hatchet and Lynyrd Skynyrd, we can guess that the two of them may have a few differences to iron out.
In my novella Speechless, music is how Travis meets Drew. As Travis walks home from work every day, he passes Drew, sitting on his front steps and playing the guitar. And it’s also how the men communicate, because Drew suffers from aphasia and cannot speak or write. With hand gestures, facial expressions, and a few well-chosen tunes, Drew does a pretty good job of letting Travis know what’s on his mind.
Music is also important in my latest novel, Brute. We find this out in the very first paragraphs:
Music was his companion.
Brute sang about a love lost at sea as he settled the stone slab more comfortably on his massive shoulders and began to trudge uphill on the narrow path. He sang quietly, because with his very deep voice and inability to carry a tune, he knew he sounded terrible, and the other men would glare at him if he became too loud. Nobody was close enough to hear him if he kept his voice low, and the music made his burdens seem a little lighter, made the pathway a little less treacherous under his feet. He sang the bawdy songs that rumbled in the tavern under his room and the wistful ballads the women sang when they gathered around the well at dawn, and sometimes he even hummed the lullabies he half remembered someone crooning to him.
Brute’s life is about to change drastically. He’s going to rescue a prince, get seriously injured in the process, and end up with a job guarding a wretched and potentially dangerous prisoner named Gray Leynham. But even as Brute’s world shifts, music will remain important to him, serving to calm and heal—even if, like mine, poor Brute’s voice is enough to make small children angry. Continue reading