Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rock This! Thursday: Sounds from the Page with Sean Keefer

I love music. I’ve been a guitar player for years.

I love to write. I’ve been a writer for almost as long as I’ve been a guitar player.

I always thought I’d have a CD/album/whatever you want to call it out before I ever even thought about publishing a book, but things don’t always turn out the way you want. Not that I’m disappointed. I continue to work on my first musical release, but while I do, I have a novel out that people are reading and seem to like. (For the curious it’s called The Trust.)

The book is a mystery/thriller set in Charleston, South Carolina. When I wrote it, I wanted to blend in my love of music which, I found, wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

I could have taken an interesting approach and have provided a “Suggested Listening” preface to each chapter, but I thought that a bit transparent. I also avoided the temptation to any sleuthing musicians.

I’ve seen some interesting things in the way of music in books. One author made a reoccurring theme the existence of a list of his 100 greatest albums of all time. It wasn’t a key part of the plot, but it was something the characters revisited a number of times through the book.

As I read the book, I simply had to know the list but all I got was teasers.

The story was compelling, but what I remember most is that in the final scene when the loose ends were being tied up one of the characters offers up to the main character an envelope. The envelope contained the list and the book ended with albums 1 through 100. Neat use of music in a book without a single note being played from the page.

As neat as this approach was, I needed and wanted something else.

So I came up with something different.

One of the scenes in the book takes place in an empty, abandoned bar. There’s a storm, literally, coming and our main character is getting ready to open a door not knowing what is on the other side.

I wanted to create a certain feeling and as I was writing this section of the book, I started to hear music in my head so I transferred it to the page.

The main character is alone in the bar, he hears a song from down a long dark hall. The music is repetitive and unnerving, but he knows the song which is actually a bit comforting. Comforting yet disturbing at the same time. The song repeats, heightening the tension as the main character makes his way down the hall towards the front of the bar.

Suddenly he’s knocked unconscious.

He awakes, tied to a chair in a spotlight. He’s still in the bar. The song continues and amps up the tension and since the same song is playing, he has no idea how long he has been out….

When I wrote this, blending it all together allowed the main character to be comfortable but confused. Familiar, but unsettled. He knew the song, knew it was repeating. It was playing when he was knocked out and was the first thing he heard when he awoke, but he had no idea how long he had been out. Confusion all around and exactly what I needed.

I was able to accomplish this and, from what the readers tell me, I was able to create a good deal of suspense and the tension by weaving in a simple song.

If it wasn’t for music and being able to literally play a song from the written page, I would have had to tell the reader what they were supposed to be thinking; however, with a little music, I created a feeling that will be there for everyone that reads my book (a lot of people I hope) but that will be a feeling that each reader will (hopefully) interpret for themselves.

So as long as you’re here, why don’t you read an excerpt from The Trust or even buy a copy of your own. Visit my blog – The Trust Blog.

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