Music is my bread and butter. Growing up, I’d find any excuse to make a mix tape, whether it was for a friend or crush. Whenever we were assigned book projects in high school, I saw that as a golden opportunity to create soundtracks for those books. In recent years, I’ve noticed that creating sountracks for novels have become the “it” trend. As I wrote CUT HERE, I was inspired by some songs, and imagined which songs would fit into certain scenes in the novel. Other songs found themselves being mentioned in the novel itself during pivotal scenes of action. So here are thirteen songs that I’ve selected that were either mentioned in the novel, or I envisioned would be perfect to set the mood of the novel in certain scenes. Enjoy the darkness.
During the writing of CUT HERE, there were several songs that I listened to on repeat as a way to create the ideal mood for me to emerge myself into the dark world of Lena and Jonathan. One of these songs is the infamous Smashing Pumpkins song, Today. Appropriately, this song is about suicide (a major theme in the book), but many people don’t seem to know this. Throughout the years, many listeners have misinterpreted Billy Corgan’s of the lyric, “Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known,” as it can be evidenced by the use of this song in the movie, If I Stay, where the characters of that movie were singing the song together in a sort of happy gathering amongst friends. To them, the song was supposed to be interpreted just as it sounds, “Today is the greatest day,” but boy are they wrong. Dead wrong. Pun intended.
When Corgan sang that lyric, he meant that it was the greatest day he’d ever known, because he wouldn’t be living for a tomorrow. The song is musically upfliting in sound, which gives the lyrics a darker twist. The song sounds happy, because looking towards death was seen as the best thing that could be happening to the singer. Now, a character in my story, Amelia Stevens, loves the Smashing Pumpkins, and there’s a brief reference to them. But the reason why I found listening to to the song so powerful in helping me get into the right mind-frame for writing CUT HERE is that each of the characters in CUT HERE are broken in their own way. The lyrics of Today drip heavily with the blood of a broken person, and what better way to delve into the psyche of broken characters than by obsessively listening to a song that does just that?
CUT HERE availabe for pre-order HERE. Book releases on February 13, 2015.
I began writing “CUT HERE” in January of 2011. Jonathan Russe is the male protagonist of the novel, and many influences went behind the creation of that character. He’s originally from New York City, where he lived till his parents divorced at the age of twelve. He lost his brother in Coney Island. Not lost as in his brother died, but that he actually lost his twin brother. The inspiration of having a twin lose his twin came from the novel, “The Solitude of Prime Numbers,” where the male protagonist of that book leaves his twin sister at a park, because the thought of bringing his retarded sister to a birthday party with him was far too appalling.
Having Jon lose his brother through a slight distraction on his part gave him the baggage needed to become a self-mutilator. Jon spends his nights awake for fear of having the same dream every night, of finding himself at Coney Island and losing his brother, Robert.
When it came to creating Jonathan’s looks, I was highly inspired by the actor, Ryan Donowho. Many times while I’m writing I create a mini-cast in my head of possible actors that could play my characters, and when I imagined Jon, he had the lanky, tall body of Ryan Donowho, with the lackadaisical look of someone who is disgustingly gorgeous, but not one to be smug of their own attractiveness. One of the first things Jon thinks when he sees Lena Martin for the first time is, Your lips would make a lollipop too happy. That is a phrase that a guy who reminded me of Jon personality wise, told me years ago.
Not only did that guy inspire Jon’s thought about Lena, but also Jon’s unhealthy obsession with the grunge band, Nirvana. Although I was a pre-teen during Nirvana’s reign, I never really paid much attention to that little Seattle band that changed the music scene for years to come. Chalk it up to my personal obsession with bands such The Doors and David Bowie. In other words, I was stuck in the 70’s when it was the 90’s. Up until 2008 I probably only knew a handful of Nirvana songs. You know, the ones that any idiot with radio or MTV (back in the day when it played music videos) has heard, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are, and Heart-Shaped Box. So when said charming guy gave me a mix CD with the song Molly’s Lips from Nirvana saying that it reminded him of me, I was intrigued. During the nine months that we knew each other, he bestowed upon me all the useless trivia about Nirvana and Kurt Cobain that could only impress a die hard Nirvana fan. Nonetheless, all this useless trivia turned out that it wasn’t useless at all. Nirvana was going to be Jon’s obsession. The useless trivia would be his to know.
When it comes to writing, inspiration comes from various sources. You never know which people or what art may inspire or help flesh a character out. A character is merely two dimensional, unless you breathe life into it. Let the character have passions, obsessions, a past. In other words, a life that lives beyond the novel and before the novel. The novel is merely a snapshot of a medias res moment. A photograph of what occurred during a short span of time.
“CUT HERE” is available on sale on February 13, 2015.
First posts are always difficult. It’s like trying to introduce yourself at a party. First impressions can be so crippling, especially when everyone you know has a blog, and they’re all awful, navel-gazing trainwrecks (both the blog and the bloggers). Unfortunately, this is no exception. I’ll tell you from the start that this is going to be one hell of a navel-gazing trainwreck, so hit that back button right now. You’ve been warned. Unless you’re a masochist. In which case, carry on reading this blog. It may feed into your pain-seeking thrills.
The concept of “CUT HERE,” all began with a dream I had in the summer of 2008. It wasn’t really a dream, but more of a nightmare. It was Christmas time in Catania, Sicily and a girl sees a book on display at a bookstore kiosk entitled CUT HERE. The book’s cover had a bloody line across a faceless person’s neck, bleeding the title. Shortly after, sounds of sirens invade the dream, and as the girl rushes to the sounds, she sees a trail of blood on the asphalt and a mink coat on the ground. Everything is red.
Flash forward to me seeing the same girl again, but this time she’s in a bookstore, holding a copy of the book, CUT HERE, waiting for it to be autographed by a Japanese author. But the girl is in danger, and so she runs away. I soon wake up with a sense of dread. I usually don’t write down my dreams often, but that time I wrote down that dream cause it left me with a haunting feeling. At the time I didn’t know if I’d ever use that dream for a short story, poem, or novel. It sat there gathering virtual dust on my computer for three years before I decided to re-read that dream, one night in Janury of 2011. Soon, that dream would become Lena Martin’s tortured past.
Being a huge music addict, I don’t know if the title of the book that the students of St. Lucy Academy are obsessed over, came to me because of the infamous Cure song by that title, or because of a shirt I saw long ago that had a scissor pattern along the neck with the same words, whatever the case, enjoy the song below, as that may make you feel as though you didn’t entirely waste your time by venturing into the depths of this blog.
Keep your eyes peeled, CUT HERE will be unleashed upon the world on February 13, 2015 (I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have the book launch on Friday the 13th. There will also be a blog tour starting the 16th of February, but more on that when the time comes.
As an ending note, just remember aspiring writers, inspiration can come from anything. Just because you don’t use something right away doesn’t mean that you can’t eventually use it for a project. My nightmare was stashed away for three years before it became the protagonist’s backstory. So never underestimate the worth of something just because it doesn’t click right away with an idea. File it away, and eventually it can be used for something.
As for what I wish to accomplish with this blog? The short answer is, take you behind the scenes of the development of, “CUT HERE,” which will include how Dario Argento was a prime inspiration, Clive Barker’s Dread, Ryan Donowho, and Smashing Pumpkin’s ‘Today,’ all fell into a melting pot of thriving ideas to help forge a novel that is dark, and a little twisted. Stay tuned.