Monday, May 28, 2012

Guest Blog by Michael R. Underwood - Geekomancy’s Official Unofficial Soundtrack

Please welcome Michael R. Underwood to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs.  Geekomancy, Michael's debut, will be published on July 10, 2012 by Pocket Star.

Geekomancy’s Official Unofficial Soundtrack

I make soundtracks for pretty much every story I write, be it a flash piece, a short story, screenplay or novel. The practice started years ago, when I was writing my first novel (which now lives in a digital trunk, only to be looked upon to steal ideas away and put to use with better prose). I tend toward instrumental pieces, since the lyrics can sometimes get in the way. However, songs that I’ve heard more than 50 times stop distracting me with their lyrics, because I know them well enough that they can just be background noise in my mind.

Geekomancy wouldn’t be the book it is without Florence + the Machine. You’d think that for a comedic geeky urban fantasy, I’d be listening to They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Coulton, maybe even MC Frontalot. But it was the British fiery faerie ringleader Florence Welch and her band that served as my musical fast-track to the part of my brain that is labeled Geekomancy.

I started writing Geekomancy in November of 2010, and at that time, I was deep in my compulsive listening to Florence + the Machine’s album Lungs. Like many, I was blown away by the strength of Florence Welch’s voice, the haunting quality of the lyrics, and the awesomeness of having a harp in a pop/rock band.

I immediately connected with “Dog Days Are Over,” but as I started thinking through the plot for the novel, I latched onto “Rabbit Heart,” due to the emotional punch of some of the lyrics.

This is a gift, it comes with a price // Who is the lamb and who is the knife? // Midas is king and he holds me so tight // And turns me to gold in the sunlight (“Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” Florence Welch and Paul Epworth

Without giving away spoilers, those lines hit home for me in terms of the main characters and the action of the middle and end of the novel as I had them outlined in my head. The lyrics don’t directly line up with the plot and the characters, but the emotions that the song evoked for me were fantastic fuel for my mind as I channeled geekiness and tried to figuratively bleed all over the page.

When I got into the middle of the novel, I wanted to find some music to convey another feel, something solidly distinct from the Florence + the Machine of Ree’s normal world. I decided on Daft Punk’s wonderful score for Tron: Legacy, since I drew on some Tron imagery for that section of the novel and because I knew from personal experience that techno makes my brain happy in action sequences.

I had to take a break in writing the first draft during the summer of 2011, since summer is one of my busy seasons. So by the time I came back to the novel, Ceremonials, Florence + the Machine’s second studio album, was coming out. And it’s good that I waited, because I would have been lost on how to create the novel’s grace notes in the epilogue without “Shake it Out.”

“Shake it Out,” for me, is a song for a grown woman, with girlhood in her rear-view mirror. It’s a song for a woman who has gone through the Bad Times, found herself, and emerged stronger. When Welch holds the note leading into the last set of chorus repeats, I feel the energy of a defiant survivor, someone who knows themselves better and is ready to face the world. That’s the kind of feel I wanted to give the epilogue, and I hope it shows through for the readers.

Florence + the Machine features strongly in the soundtrack for the sequel to Geekomancy (tentatively titled Celebromancy), but I’ve added some other artists for variation, to make them feel different in my mind as I’m working. But when I hear “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”, “Shake It Out,” or nearly any song from Lungs, I will always think of Rhiannon Anna Maria Reyes, aka Ree, and the joy of taking the journey of Geekomancy with her.

About Geekomancy

Pocket Star, July 10, 2012
eBook, 400 pages

Clerks meets Buffy the Vampire the Slayer in this original urban fantasy eBook about Geekomancers—humans that derive supernatural powers from pop culture.

Ree Reyes’s life was easier when all she had to worry about was scraping together tips from her gig as a barista and comicshop slave to pursue her ambitions as a screenwriter.

When a scruffy-looking guy storms into the shop looking for a comic like his life depends on it, Ree writes it off as just another day in the land of the geeks. Until a gigantic “BOOM!” echoes from the alley a minute later, and Ree follows the rabbit hole down into her town’s magical flip-side. Here, astral cowboy hackers fight trolls, rubber-suited werewolves, and elegant Gothic Lolita witches while wielding nostalgia-powered props.

Ree joins Eastwood (aka Scruffy Guy), investigating a mysterious string of teen suicides as she tries to recover from her own drag-your-heart-through-jagged-glass breakup. But as she digs deeper, Ree discovers Eastwood may not be the knight-in-cardboard armor she thought. Will Ree be able to stop the suicides, save Eastwood from himself, and somehow keep her job?

About Michael

Michael R. Underwood grew up devouring stories in all forms: movies, comics, TV, video games, and novels. He holds a B.A. in Creative Mythology and East Asian Studies from Indiana University and an M.A. in Folklore Studies from the University of Oregon, which have been great preparation for writing speculative fiction. Michael went straight from his M.A. to the Clarion West Writers Workshop and then landed in Bloomington, Indiana, where he remains. When not writing or selling books across the Midwest as an independent book representative, Michael dances Argentine Tango and studies renaissance martial arts.

You can find him at or @MikeRUnderwood on Twitter. Geekomancy is coming July 10th from Pocket Star.

1 comment:

  1. Soundtracks for books fascinate me...because I am not wired that way to come up with them for the stories in my own head.

    That, or I'm musically challenged. Take your pick.