Music Behind The Story with M.D. Neu
Greetings and salutations! First I'd like to welcome M.D. Neu to the Rock 'n' Romance blog today. He and I met when I was invited to join the Bay Area Queer Writers Association and I've had a lot of fun getting to know him. We're a small but mighty new writer's group and you can find us here. We recently did a virtual reading night and you can check out our videos here.
I met M.D. through a good pal, J. Scott Coatsworth who I've featured on the blog many times before because he's just one of the coolest cats on the planet, and that leads me to one more announcement... You can nab four free books by signing up for the Queeromance Ink newsletter for just a couple more days INCLUDING PINUPS AND PUPPIES! That's right! You can get your hands on a tale of love, hope, and puppies complete with a not-so-reformed mod girl who falls for a retired Air Force pilot trying to find her way. Check it out!
And now, without further ado, let's hear from M.D. Neu about how music inspires his writing!
When it comes to music, in general, we never stop and think about how important those sounds can be to us, our lives, and as authors, our writing. If music is our soul, then the words that we create from listening must be an extension of, not only the music but, of our soul…right? Of course, I’m only speaking of listening to music and having it reflected in our writings, not the act of composing music, which is a whole separate talent.
When I sit down to write typically there is music playing. I have what, I believe, to be an eclectic taste in music. Some days I’ll be listening to; pop, some days classical, others instrumental, Disney Classics, Rock, Pop Rock, Classic Rock, Gregorian chant, etc. It wouldn’t be odd for me to go from listening to an Abba song, then up next would be a song by Extreme, then bounce over to Scott Williams, then maybe something from Broadway or perhaps Dead can Dance or possibly Enigma. It all filters into my ears then in one form or another it shows up on the pages I write.
When I first started writing Contact, there is a moment at the beginning of the book, where one of my Main Character’s, Todd, was listening to music while working on his laptop. Over the years, the name of the song changed (this was the first novel I wrote and it took upwards of ten years for me to finish and even longer to publish) so by the time the novel was ready for publication, the name of the song had already been changed numerous times, but finally the song was set, Photograph, by Nickelback. As it just so happens, that was the exact song I was listening to when I hit the save button for my finale review. Of course, the song had already been out, for however many years it was, so it was new enough to keep the story current, but old enough that it was already somewhat of a classic when I put it in the novel. However, what pleased me the most about the use of Photograph was how it set the mood for the chapter, which I couldn’t be more pleased with. Especially since I can’t imagine any other song for that moment in the book.
As I mentioned my tastes in music vary, so when I’m writing, especially something sad or painful, I will dig through my music library and listen to Terry Jacks, Seasons in the Sun or Pet Shop Boys It’s a Sin. These songs will put me into the right headspace to get through the difficult passages ahead of me. Even if I don’t always have those songs playing in the background, I will recall them to memory if I need to write something with a lot of emotion.
I don’t only use music to evoke an emotion in my writing, sometimes I will use it to set the story in a particular time period. In T.A.D.-The Angel of Death, we start off the story in 2001 and move forward from there, so at each jump in time, the characters will either mention a song or hear a song playing from that time period. You would think that would have been easy, but it wasn’t. Even my Editor had some issues with the song choices, not sure they were correct for the time period, it was something we both checked and doubled checked to ensure the song that I used was actually out at that time, and popular. One such song was Bubbly by Colbie Caillat. I had the story set in early 2008 and my Editor was convinced that the song didn’t come out until late 2008, luckily, I had the release information from 2007 which showed the song’s release date as May 15, 2007 as part of her Coco album, so the song would have been out long enough to become popular and have the characters know about it. Which I was grateful for as I actually like that song for the character who mentioned it. To be sure, I could have been just as wrong about the date.
As far as books go, T.A.D.-The Angel of Death was my most music-heavy story, as I used it for a plot devise throughout the narrative.
In my other works, especially, The Calling, I don’t believe I used any songs by name, but I played music in the background constantly, and if the song playing didn’t go with what I was writing, at the time, I would skip around or pull up a particular artist and listen to them on repeat while I wrote. I believe, a lot of The Calling, was written to the music of Scott Williams, he plays a hammered dulcimer and his music had the right mix of mystery, darkness, and fun, that I wanted for the story. I also listened to a lot of Richard Searles whose music is a fusion of medieval, renaissance, and Celtic. Between the two I don’t think I could have written The Calling without their music.
As with my writing, I think my taste in music is kind of all over the place, which is why I like it, because I’m not stuck in one genre. I can write, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Horror/Paranormal, and as needed within the stories a bit of romance. It’s kind of like the music I listen to, some days it’s all about rock, others it has to be Top 40, then Pop, Classical, Instrumental, New Age, or whatever strikes my fancy. Music for me is like writing, the more unique, funky, and fun, the better.
Thank you so much, Ro, for letting me hang out and talk about my weird choices of music and how it affects my writing.
M.D. Neu is an inclusive award-winning gay fiction writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to sci-fi and paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the greats Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.
Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.
When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of twenty plus years.
Thanks so much, M.D.! Be sure to check out his books and follow him on social media!
Be sure to keep an eye out for posts announcing the brand new covers for Hurricane Reese and Typhoon Toby. They'll be out AUGUST 1ST! They'll be out in KU for the first time! I hope new readers will love The Forces of Nature series! Stay Tuned for more Rock 'n' Romance...