Every movie has a soundtrack. Each scene is brought to life by the tunes playing in the background during a fight, a love scene, or the climactic ending. Books can be the same in that regard. When I write, I have my headphones on and I’m rocking out to whatever metal song comes out of the shuffle. There may be some rock, but metal is my poison.
When I wrote The Calling, I had to step back and think about the time period I was writing in. The novella isn’t set in the present, so I had to try to go with what the sounds of the time were. Most of the year was dominated by pop and the birth of Nu Metal, but here are the ten songs I put on a track list and why they helped me to set the mood for The Calling.
So, if you have some of these tunes handy, listen to them while you read the book and see if you agree with how they were used in my head. Maybe someday we’ll be able to watch the movie adaptation together and listen to the same songs on the big screen. I like soundtracks…
The Calling – Brent Abell
Carl Volker has a problem. After waking one morning with a hangover to find his wife gone, he notices a crow stalking around his yard. As days go by with no word from his wife, more and more crows gather.
Frank Hill is sheriff in the seemingly pleasant town of White Creek. Up until recently, his job has been fairly mundane but after a recent spree of murders, bodies are beginning to pile up and Frank has no clue as to who the killer may be.
White Creek has kept its secrets hidden well over the years but the sins of its past are coming to light; the town harbors an evil and the bindings that keep it in check are beginning to unravel.
As Frank and Carl’s friendship is tested and their destinies are revealed, the dead accumulate while the crows watch and The Calling begins!
Brent Abell lives in Southern Indiana with his wife, sons, and a pug who sits around eating the souls of wayward people. His stories have been featured in over 30 publications from multiple presses. His work includes his novella In Memoriam, collection Wicked Tales for Wicked People, and novel Southern Devils; which are available now. He also co-authored the horror-comedy Hellmouth series. Currently, he is working on the second book in the Southern Devils series and the next book with Frank Hill in the White Creek Saga.
Facebook: Brent T. Abell
Musical Inspiration for the Wild Weird West
Writing takes me down many paths through the tales I spin. Each dusty trail taken was influenced in a different manner. Sometimes, it is something as simple as a grouping of trees around a large sandstone boulder. Other times, an old film sparks a flame of creativity. Many things activate the part of my brain that manufactures the stories I write. However, music is one of the most important tools used for inspiration.
A particular song can put me in the saddle in the middle of a cattle drive. Often, a tune can make me smell the leather of the saddle beneath me and feel the sun on my forehead, or a cold rain slapping my face. Music can remove my mind from my body and teleport it through space and time to an era when vigilante justice was meted out quickly with a gun or a noose.
In my collection of Wild West collides with horror tales, Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West, music was instrumental in nearly all my yarns. Though most of the stories in this collection were not directly inspired by a particular song, listening to a special song put me in a proper frame of mind. On some occasions, I listened to the same song repeatedly as I weaved the fabric of a tale.
Take the story, Willows of the Mourning Dove; I listened to Running Bear by Sonny James several times, as I penned the tale. Though the character of Mourning Dove was very loosely based on the female love interest in the song, little else about the story resembles the tune. Still, the music and lyrics inspired me as I wrote. Had I listened to another song while I put words to page, the story would have most likely taken a different path.
While inking The Jonah Herd, there were two songs on my playlist, Stampede by Chris Ledoux and Rawhide by Frankie Laine. Other than both using a cattle drive as the subject matter, nothing about the story suggests a tie to either tune. Nonetheless, both kept my mind firmly planted on a trail drive. Both brought me to a place where I could feel the mud from the hooves of horses and cattle hitting my face and see the rain as it dripped from the brim of my hat.
As I sat writing The Guns of Clay Allison, the tune Big Iron by Marty Robbins played almost exclusively. There is absolutely no link between the song and tale, but I knew I needed to listen to it if I was to pen the story. It gave me the sense of using a primitive six-shooter and filled my nose with the scent of spent gunpowder.
In the story Collateral Winds, the song Seven Spanish Angels by Willie Nelson and Ray Charles inspired and influenced the story. A tale of a path taken leading to regret and remorse, the impact the tune had on the storyline is evident. Sometimes, decisions made affect not only the people in our sight, but also others we fail to notice. Both the story and song depict the ramifications of a life lived by the gun.
The Devil’s Herd was inspired by two songs, Ghost Riders in the Sky by Johnny Cash and to a lesser extent, El Paso by Marty Robbins. Elements of this story are derived from the lyrics of both tunes. Though I listened to the latter more often, the other had more influence on the path the story took. The imagery created by both songs helped set the tone of a long ride across a barren landscape in brutal heat to an unknown destiny.
As you read the dusty tales in Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West, feel free to play the forementioned songs or create a playlist of your favorite cowboy tunes. Let the music and the stories take you back in space and time to a rowdy era where vigilante justice was the law and guns ruled the land.
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Eerie Trails… of the Wild Weird West
In this collection of fourteen strange tales from the wild west, Cowboys and Indians face down supernatural beings of all varieties – from vampires and werewolves; to ghosts and vengeful spirits; to mythological creatures.
Saddle up cowboys and ladies alike, once the journey begins, Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West will take you down a strange and bizarre path though the old west that you’ve never been on before.
About the Author — Maynard Blackoak is a freelance writer living in the backwoods of Pawnee County, Oklahoma. He draws upon the sights of neglect and unusual sounds around him for inspiration. A bit of a recluse, he can often be found strolling through an old, forgotten cemetery or in the woods among the twisted black oaks and native elms under the light of the moon.
Facebook: Maynard Blackoak
Music to Write Horror By
Jessica B. Bell
When I write, I always have music playing, sometimes just ambient instrumental music – Brian Eno has several great soundscape albums that are great – but often I want a certain mood to write by. When I was writing a lot of the stories in Viscera I would often have these on in the background.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F#A#(Infinity) : This is an album by a Canadian band known for its long, experimental soundscapes, combining live music with soundbytes and spoken word. It’s dark and atmospheric, and is my go to when writing. If you’ve seen the brilliant film 28 Days Later, you may recognize their song East Hastings/Dead Flag Blues. It has a spoken word piece at the beginning of the song about being trapped in the belly of a machine that is bleeding to death that gives me chills:
King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King: Someone once said that this music was the sound of the apocalypse, and they might be right. The title track has been used in the dystopian film Children of Men and is instantly recognizable. If I’m ever writing something with some sort of demon or elder god in it, this is the record I put on. It’s grand and cinematic, and if you’re going to be writing something bleak, this is the track you want to be listening to.
Tom Waits – Mule Variations: When I was writing CHUK – a novel set in the Louisiana bayou – this was on my turntable nearly constantly. It’s a great album altogether, but Low Side of the Road could be the theme song for the HBO adaption of CHUK (it’ll happen, you’ll see). There’s just something about Tom Waits’ gravelly voice and Kurt Weill-esque musical sensibilities that make his music excellent for creepy writing.
Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral: Nobody does anger quite so eloquently as Trent Reznor, and if you are writing something intended to make the skin crawl – or if you’re just writing something bloody violent and angry, then you want to throw on this album, beginning to end. The industrial noises in the song Reptile sound like Godspeed’s horrible machine, bleeding to death. If they ever made a film out of my story Paraxenogenesis, this would be the soundtrack.
Sigur Rós – Ágætis Byrjun: I have no idea what this Icelandic band is singing about , but it is dark and lovely. It’s actually very soothing, and puts me in a mood to write. There’s a short story in Viscera – my new collection of strange tales, published by Sirens Call Publications (and available now) called The Queen is Dead that could definitely be read with Sigur Rós playing in the background.
Finally, Pink Floyd’s near-instrumental Careful With That Axe, Eugene was the inspiration for the story Banshee (also in Viscera). The song just sounds like a chase across barren, icy tundra. Listen to this song before (or while) you read the story, and I think you’ll see what I mean.
What music do you listen to while writing? Is it just your personal favourites, or does the music you listen to influence your writing, and if so, in what way?
Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumoured that she lives in a damp, dark basement, writing her twisted tales in her own blood on faded yellow parchment. Her stories have been published in various anthologies, the most recent of which is Voices. She also writes under the name Helena Hann-Basquiat, and has published two novels on the metafictional topic of Jessica B. Bell, titled Jessica and Singularity. A third and final novel is planned for 2017.
Find more of Jessica’s (and Helena’s) writing at whoisjessica.com
Viscera — Jessica B. Bell
Viscera is a collection of short stories full of all the things that make you squirm, cringe, and laugh when you know you shouldn’t. You’ll remember why you’re afraid of the dark and experience an abundance of weird creatures: witches, ancient gods, and all-too-human monsters – the scariest of all.
Indulge your twisted sense of humor with stories about unconventional werewolves and a woman with a frog fetish. Know what it’s like to arrive too late to save an unusual alien abductee, or giggle with sick delight as a woman serves up a special Hasenpfeffer dinner to her pig of a husband.
Settle in for bedtime stories fit for monsters.
Viscera will grab you by the gut and squeeze, making you cry for mercy—or laugh like a fiend!
I’ve just come back from back to back conventions, Scares That Care Weekend in VA and Authors After Dark in GA. Both events went well but I realized something. OK, let me back up a second and be honest… I always knew I had this problem but until the past few weeks I never realized how bad my problem was… I pack enough books for every author in the room to sell.
I lost count (and too lazy to look) but I believe I am well over 50 different print books with my name in there somewhere. No way I should be able to carry a few copies of each, yet every time I go to a con I bring 3 full crates and at least 2 full boxes with me. Insanity!
So… I decided to do something drastic about it. Actually, my wife forced me to do something intelligent about it, especially since certain print books are out of print or have had an update, etc.
I’m going to sell every book listed below for the earth-shattering low price of $5 each plus $4 shipping first book and $1 each additional. Sorry, only available for U.S. buyers AND I’ll even sign them because I’m really a nice guy at heart.
Here are the print books and the number next to each is how many are available, so get your orders in asap. I will update this page as books are sold:
Highway To Hell (original naughty version) – 2 left
Highway To Hell 2 – 1
Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer (out of print) – 2
Dying Days 1 through 5 (original covers) – 1 of DD1, 8 of DD2, 16 of DD3, 9 of DD4 and 7 of DD5
Dying Days: Siege of European Village – SOLD OUT
Dying Days: Siege 2 – 9
Undead Tales anthology – SOLD OUT
Undead Tales 2 anthology – 1
Dying Days: Origins – 2
Dying Days: Origins 2 – 3
Still Dying – 2
Still Dying 2 – SOLD OUT
Zombie Writing! – 5
Creeping Death (out of print short story collection) – 5
Metal Queens: Models 2 – 6
Belford Stories (original version) – 10
Quick Bites of Flesh (out of print) – 1
Zombie Tea Party – SOLD OUT
Skeletal Remains anthology – 1
Rymfire Erotica anthology – 2
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There ya go! 24 different titles to choose from. When they’re gone they’re gone! I won’t be printing them again. Some are still available through Amazon but at the normal $9.99 – $12.99 price and those aren’t signed, either.
How can you get your hands on these copies? Simple. Send me an email at armandrosamilia (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know which signed print books you’re interested in along with your PayPal address. I will send you an invoice and get your book(s) ready to ship.
Fiona Quinn interviews me about podcasting and books and stuff!