Posts Tagged With: music

Yours Truly rocks the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers podcast

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers podcastTrue story: at the RMFW conference this year, I bumped into my good friend Mark Stevens, an award-winning author and host of the Rocky Mountain Writer podcast. Somehow, we got to talking about weird musical instruments.

I’ve just started playing one of the weirdest of all, the theremin. It’s the original electronic instrument, one that you play just by waving your hands at it. It’s been featured in plenty of old black and white science fiction movies.

Mark was like, “Why don’t you play it on our podcast?”

And I was like, “Wow! That’s a terrifying idea! Let’s do it!”

(And also, somewhere in there, we talked about my writing, too.)

Listen to the Rocky Mountain Writer podcast. 

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4 Amazing Skills I Wish I Had in Real Life

4 Amazing Skills I Wish I Had in Real Life

I’m writing a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.

One of the little-known perks of being a writer is that I get to pretend that I know all kinds of cool stuff.

Every character I create is an expert in something.

They can hack into top-secret computer networks, field strip an AK-47 blindfolded, make a peanut butter sandwich without dripping any.

These people have skills.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a writer (and writing halfway decent books is kind of a skill). But still, I wish I had the time, energy, and money to learn these four skills.  Continue reading

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What Music Do Writers Listen to?

Crystal Blue ZXZ album cover

New rule: if there’s a Lamborghini on the cover, you know it’s good.

While I was writing No Sleep till Doomsday (Dru Jasper series, book 3), much to my surprise, I found myself listening to a certain Ukrainian pop music album over and over.

Here’s why.

My book features an evil crystal sorceress named Lucretia, and there are subtle references throughout the book to the song “Lucretia, My Reflection” by The Sisters of Mercy.

Searching for music to write by, I found all sorts of cool covers and remixes of “Lucretia, My Reflection.” The one version that really captured my attention was by a Ukrainian electronic artist called ZXZ, on the Crystal Blue album.

A song about Lucretia (my crystal sorceress), on an album called Crystal Blue. Was it fate?

I decided to track down ZXZ and find out.

Continue reading

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How to Create the Perfect Writing Soundtrack

writing soundtrack

Read more on Patricia Stoltey’s website

Before I became a full-time writer, I thought music was too distracting to play while I was writing.

I thought I needed absolute silence.

Then I got a job as a staff writer, and suddenly I couldn’t hear myself think.

Stuck in the middle of a bustling open-plan office, I quickly discovered that if I wanted to focus and meet my tight writing deadlines, I needed music.

But not just any music. If it’s too slow, your mind can wander. Too fast, and you can’t concentrate. Too personally meaningful, and you’ll experience the emotion in the music instead of putting it down on the page.

The right writing playlist takes a little planning.

Keep reading >

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The official soundtrack of IT HAPPENED ONE DOOMSDAY

Here’s a selection of female vocalist covers and remixes of some of my favorite 80s and 90s songs. I listened to these tracks over and over while I was writing It Happened One Doomsday.

A few notes:

• Kelly Sweet – In The Air Tonight: a song for Rane’s anger.
• Creep (Radiohead Cover): a song for Dru’s angst.
• Imagine Dragons – Radioactive (cover): a song for Greyson’s struggle to stay human.
• Drop the Lime – State Trooper: my go-to car chase song.


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Frightfully cool music: Midnight Syndicate interview (Part 2)

In case you missed it last week, I got to talk with Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka of the soundtrack band Midnight Syndicate.  These guys make what is possibly the scariest, most evocative music in the world.  (Want a sample?  Click here.)  And now, appropriately enough, they have their own movie!

SciFiBookshelf:  So I’ve been hearing about your movie, THE DEAD MATTER.  What’s the story behind it?

Gavin Goszka: Midnight Syndicate Films released its first full-length horror motion picture on July 30th, called “The Dead Matter.” Ed not only directed it, but he also co-wrote the story and handled the score as well. It tells the story of a vampire relic with occult powers that falls into the hands of a grief-stricken young woman who will do anything to contact her dead brother. It involves both zombies as well as vampires and has a few plot twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end. The movie is available in a specially-priced 3-disc set at Hot Topic stores nationwide, and includes both the Official Motion Picture Score CD as well as a compilation disc of some of our most mood-setting tracks that’s perfect for playing outside at Halloween. 

Edward Douglas: Right now we’re all about promoting our movie “The Dead Matter” which I directed and scored and we just released at all Hot Topic stores (and online) this past month.   It’s a fun horror film that blends supernatural elements, vampires, zombies, dark humor, and a really cool story – a throwback to the classic Universal horror and Hammer horror films I grew up watching.  It stars Jason Carter from “Babylon 5,”  Andrew Divoff (“Lost,” “Wishmaster”), and Tom Savini (“Friday the 13th”, “Machete”).  You can check out the trailer, reviews, and other stuff on   Next up will probably be another CD.   We’re also talking about producing a live show in 2011.

SFB:  A live Midnight Syndicate show?  How cool is that?

G: We’ve been talking about the possibility of doing a live show for quite some time, but our schedules have always made it highly impractical, if not impossible. We’re finally at a point now where it’s more of a realistic option, and have been working on some initial plans for doing a series of shows in 2011. Outside of that, I’m sure we’ll be talking about doing a new CD again very soon. We’ve had quite a few requests from fans over the years to do either a carnival-themed release, or a darker take on Christmas, but I think there are quite a few possibilities that we’ll be looking at.

If someone had told you fifteen years ago that you’d be so successful today, musically, what would you have said?

G: I don’t know if I would have believed it! I don’t think that either of us really had any idea where this music would take us – it was simply something that we both believed in and wanted to do. We knew there wasn’t anything quite like it out there at the time we started – all you really had to pick from (outside of specific movie soundtracks) were the ‘Monster Mash’-type party compilations and the budget sound effects tapes. The support we’ve received over the years from our fans has just been tremendous.

E:  The entertainment industry is really volatile.   There aren’t any guarantees and the future is always uncertain.  That being said, when we came out with “Born of the Night” in ’98 we knew we were on to something especially once we saw people’s reactions.   We were doing something different and somewhat unique and that was exciting.    We had CDs that could not only stand on their own merit as an instrumental gothic music album but also be used for atmosphere for Halloween, roleplaying games, haunted houses, productions.  There was nothing like that out there at the time. Once you have that you just have to believe in what you are doing and work hard.   If you do that then you can find success.   Fortunately we have the best fans in the world.  Even though we’ve never had commercial airplay or the support of a major record label, we have been able to enjoy success because of their support and their spreading the word to their friends.   We owe a lot to them.

SFB:  So where can we find out more about Midnight Syndicate?

E:  I’d like to invite people to check us out on Facebook at    It’s updated constantly and features samples from all our  CDs, music videos, pictures, etc.   Of course, they can also stop by our website,  If people are looking for some good quality dark atmosphere for their Halloween party or home display I hope they’ll give us a listen.   This is the one time of the year where you can find our CDs at most party stores, and Halloween retailers.

SFB:  Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time!

E: My pleasure, thank you!

G: Thank you!

Get more:

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Midnight Syndicate: Halloween ambiance on demand

The two gentlemen comprising Midnight Syndicate make what is possibly the scariest, most evocative music in the world.  I know this firsthand, ever since the night I was driving down a particularly lonely stretch of fog-shrouded highway and popped their 1998 album Born of the Night into the CD player.  Besides a world-class case of goosebumps, I ended up with a new favorite band.
Listen to a Midnight Syndicate album and you’ll quickly realize that it breaks all of the rules.  It’s a soundtrack, but not to any particular movie.  It’s ambient and spooky, but there’s no “Monster Mash” remake.  So what is it?

Flat-out cool.  So it’s a real treat to talk with Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka about how they make their unique music.  Not to mention how it ended up at Hugh Hefner’s Halloween party…

SciFiBookshelf:  For those who haven’t listened to Midnight Syndicate before, how would you describe your music?

Edward Douglas:
  Gothic horror fantasy soundtracks to imaginary films.   Orchestral CDs that blend instrumental music with sound effects designed to transport the listener to a world or movie of their own creation.   Each disc explores a different theme (a haunted village by the sea, vampires, dragon’s lair, etc.)

Gavin Goszka:
We usually describe it as ‘soundtracks for the imagination.’ Dark, orchestral, instrumental music that’s perfect for setting a creepy mood, whether you’re hosting a Halloween party, running a role-playing game, or simply looking for something atmospheric to play in the background while writing, painting, sculpting, or anything else. We typically blend sound effects into the music as well, but in a way that’s designed to enhance it without being distracting.

SFB:  What’s your creative process like?

E:  Our first step is determining the type of world or setting we are going to create on a CD (like a haunted Victorian asylum for our CD “Gates of Delirium”) and then flesh out the details of that world (who are the inhabitants? what do we see? etc.).  Once we’ve done that, we head off our separate ways and begin writing the music.  We continually bounce songs and song ideas off each other throughout the process, but we really don’t work together in the studio until the final mix.   That’s usually when we integrate the sound effects, finalize the instrumentation, and craft the final sound of the CD.

G: We usually come up with a general theme or story behind a given album before starting to write, which serves as a guide for the direction we’ll take with the music. Then we’ll start sketching out ideas. I tend to use piano in the early stages, where Ed will bring in the strings and a few other instruments right away. Although both of us write independently, we stay in close contact to make sure that the material is on target for the theme we have in mind. After the initial sketches are done, we’ll start fleshing everything out with full arrangements — adding percussion, or sound effects, or whatever else we feel is needed. I think both of us are visual writers in that we tend to picture scenes or have images or situations in mind when we’re writing. We like to leave a lot of the specifics up to the individual listener’s imagination, but provide enough to draw them into the world of the album and spark their creativity.

SFB:  What do you suppose are your biggest musical influences?

E: Movie soundtrack composers like Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, James Horner, and John Carpenter a huge influences to name a few.   Heavy metal is another big influence, especially bands like Black Sabbath and King Diamond.

Definitely film composers like John Carpenter and Danny Elfman, but we also draw on musical influences as diverse as Dead Can Dance, Black Sabbath and King Diamond.

SFB:  What do you think is the strangest place you’ve heard of your music being played? (More to the point: Hugh Hefner’s Halloween party? Really? And did you get invites?)
E:  We have a really strong relationship with the haunted house and amusement park industries.  Before we came on to the scene, there were no good Halloween music CDs.  It was all recycled cheesy sound effects cassettes and Monster Mash compilations.   Professional attractions that wanted to set an authentically creepy haunting atmosphere had very little options.   We changed that with our discs and as a result we formed relationships with the top haunts and amusement park companies early on.   We have hundreds of attractions all around the world using our music every October (which is very cool).   When you’ve become a part of the sound of the season, cool opportunities naturally come your way.  Mr. Hefner loves Halloween and spares no expense for his parties, so it was a natural tie-in.   The Ellen Degeneres Show, Barbara Walter’s “10 Most Fascinating People” special, Monday Night Football, are all others that came about the same way.   I don’t know if I have a “strangest” place I’ve heard it because it pretty much is always being used to set the mood for something mysterious, creepy, or Halloween-oriented.    Two of the coolest places recently were a haunted house in Siberia and Carnival’s Halloween-themed cruises.

Siberia?  Seriously?  Tune in next week for more from Midnight Syndicate!  In the meantime, get more here:

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