Music is My Muse

Father John Misty doing Bored in the USA

One of the earliest projects I remember envisioning was a story written using Rush album tracks as chapter titles. I eventually focused this idea into a short story inspired by the song The Necromancer off Rush’s Caress of Steel album. Music has never stopped influencing and inspiring my writing projects.

After my freshmen year of college, I was hurting from my first major breakup. Like every young artist before me, I channeled my feelings into a project, The Village Green Preservation Society. This evolved into my first novel, and I completed it over the course of my last teenage summer. Music aficionados will recognize the title as belonging to a classic album of the same name by The Kinks. I listened to the album on repeat as I harnessed its themes and characters to contribute to my growing world.

Years later, I’d find myself in graduate school pursuing my writing popular fiction degree, and I’d return to using music to help my writing. This time I didn’t use the music to help me create though. Instead, I created a Spotify playlist of fantasy songs that evoked my love for the genre. I pulled in music from The Lord of the Rings soundtrack, the Game of Thrones soundtrack, Harry Potter’s score, some Led Zeppelin, and of course, a little Rush. This helped me get into the right headspace while finishing my first draft of The Swords of Fellowship and editing its subsequent drafts. I’ve been using that playlist to help me write every fantasy story I’ve penned since.

This past weekend, I started a new novel. This one is horror, and it concerns my hometown. So, my playlist is filled with songs that remind me of that location. You can check out the, tentatively titled, Homeless Problem Mix here. Growing up, I’d hear The Pennsylvania Polka almost every night as I flipped past the local channels, so I had to include that. Then there were bands I was into while I lived in Hazleton, and I had to include them. Finally, I pulled in some songs that speak to my antagonist and to the mood I’m trying to achieve with this project. That’s where Father John Misty (pictured above) comes in. I got to see him live in Philadelphia a few years ago, and the experience helped kickstart my ideas on this project. Overall, my new playlist is an eclectic and strange mix that perfectly orients me to write about the world I’ve already dreamed up.

I know many people have already thought about using, or already used, music to help their writing, but I wanted to share my experiences on the subject. My father is a musician, and my family members are all deeply into music, so using it for my artistic endeavors has always been second nature to me. For those writers or artists out there who are new or just haven’t thought about this idea much, I hope this post gives you some ideas of your own. If you have a different type of muse, don’t be afraid to tell me about it in the comments below.

Stay Froggy,
Jeremiah

The Road Goes Ever On

The Road Goes Ever On

Isn’t it unbelievable how fast time passes? In January of last year, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish my second novel. Now I’ve got a three hundred and fifteen-page fantasy epic that consists of 95,831 words.

My thesis novel is tentatively titled, The Swords of Fellowship, and I am immensely proud to have finished the rough draft. My mentors and critique partners have offered encouragement, support, and help the entire way. In nineteen months enrolled in Seton Hill’s Writing in Popular Fiction Program I’ve learned more about writing than I had in my previous twenty-six years of life.

I’ve also been able to network with some incredibly talented, friendly, and interesting writers because of the Writing Residencies. This past January, I met young adult writer Gretchen McNeil. She wowed me with her insanely cool story concepts and life story. I’m looking forward to downloading a copy of Relic, a novel she wrote partially inspired by my favorite horror film, the Thing. It will be a perfect book to read since I just got a copy of the Thing board game for Christmas.

Back in the June Residency, I got to meet Hank Phillippi Ryan. She’s an Emmy Award Winning Investigative Reporter turned mystery novelist. I’m planning to reach out to her regarding a Lovecraftian story I’m writing with a female reporter as the protagonist. Every speaker we’ve gotten to hear at our residencies has been outstanding thus far.

In the coming semester, I’m going to be learning about how to teach creative writing. This is a subject I am almost as excited about as writing itself. I can’t wait to learn how to pass on the lessons I’ve learned. Although, I am a little sad that I won’t be reading genre books for my class this semester, as in past ones. Last semester, I read A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, which quickly became one of my favorite fantasy stories. I also got to read terrific books like A Wrinkle in Time and Nine Princes in Amber.

Before joining this program, I’d never been able to submit my stories to magazines, ezines, or podcasts, aside from some stuff used in my college newspaper. Now I’ve sent my second short horror story out for possible publication. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to update this site with more exciting news over the next year.

Until Next Time,
-J.D. Cook