Every author has something else going on while they’re writing. Maybe it’s a TV in the other room, maybe it’s the sounds of the coffee shop. For a lot of us, it’s music. I’ve heard authors say that they have everything on from the radio, to specific albums, to specified playlists.
Normally I stick to certain specific music to keep my head where I want it to be for the tone. While there may on occasion be albums played to drown into tunes out white noise, I write mostly while listening to a set playlist.
I had always written short stories, most of which were damned to spend eternity locked inside a hidden away file in my documents section. I didn’t sit down and really start to write Smokepit Fairytales until I was deployed on the USS Bonhomme Richard with the 31stMarine Expeditionary Unit out of Okinawa. I was filling a Psychological warfare billit on a ship that was essentially on a months long training mission.
Gainfully unemployed. I actually wrote Smokepit Fairytales and Sing Goddess the Wrath of the Fonz back to back on my laptop sitting on the floor of the berthing area. I would get up in the morning, go work out, go eat, smoke, write, smoke, write, eat, smoke, write, pound a Red Bull, smoke, write, eat, watch a movie and go to bed. I literally had nothing to do on that deployment. My only real saving grace was my buddy Chuck who I’d spitball ideas off of. That’s where a lot of the dialogue in those first books came from.
I had a certain playlist in my itunes that helped me keep the mood for Smokepit Fairytales when I was writing. It goes as follows.
The Ecstasy of Gold, Ennio Morricone
This song always reminds me of the desert. It’s probably supposed to. But I imagined this being the background music for when Hank got home from Iran and was just driving his jeep around the desert to clear his head in the middle of the book.
Oceanside, The Decemberists
Most of the story takes place in and around San Diego county, specifically Oceanside and Camp Pendleton. I didn’t find this song until after I left the West Coast and the lyric “If I could only get to Oceanside” always stick with me.
Detroit Rock City, KISS
“You gotta lose your life in Iraq Rock City.”
Gates of Babylon, Rainbow
Ancient Babylon was what’s now Iraq. One of the reasons the story took place there was because on top of Smokepit Fairytales being recycled stories of things that I’ve been through in real life, it’s also part of a larger saga that’s first part is a retelling of The Epic of Gilgamesh.
If you haven’t read that, and you’re a fan of my work, go check it out. Some things will make a lot more sense. Particularly the chain of events that start in the cave.
Enter Sandman, Metallica
This is Smokepit Fairytales’ anthem. Throughout the story Hank keeps having nightmares. He particularly had Dreams of war, dreams of liars, dreams of dragon’s fires… and the things that will bite.
Soldier Side, System of a Down
It’s reasonable to assume that Hank and Doc should have died in Iran. In some ways, they did. “Young men standing on top of their own graves.” This song illustrates some of the terrible realities of war.
Call Me Call Me, Steve Conte
From the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack, which is referenced heavily in the last half of the book. Sometimes you just need a call to tell you it’s alright.
Long Haired Redneck, David Allan Coe
The guy Éclair is based on and I sang this song a lot while drinking. We changed the lyrics to reflect our own cowboy ways. “Boot bitch in the corner’s getting to me. Talk’n bout my mustache and my hair. I guess he ain’t read the signs that said I’ve been to Sangin.”
Ain’t it Fun, Guns N’ Roses
A cover of a punk song, this is something I listen to when I’m drunk, ruining my life, and hating myself.
Rain Dogs, Tom Waits
There is too much wine in this book to not have a song about drinking it.
Still of the Night, White Snake
Possibly the best love song ever written.
I Just Dies in your Arms Tonight, Cutting Crew
I thought this was Duran Duran for YEARS. But who doesn’t want to listen to this when you decide to Thelma and Louise it and drive your car off a cliff?
You Can’t Bring Me Down, Suicidal Tendencies
The title’s self explanatory for Hank’s attitude.
Blood, Sweat, Tears, The Marine Rapper
Blood, Sweat, and Tears are how you get through things man. Percistance.
Twilight Zone, Golden Earing
There’s a lot of trippy shit in this book, and maybe it’s all in Hank’s head. Maybe, he’s in the Twilight Zone.
The other books will have their own playlists posted. More to come!