How big of an influence was music in your life and was this the reason you chose to write about someone who was a musician?
Music has almost always been an influence on my life, though not as much as perhaps it is to a professional musician. Chapter 12 opens with a line about a song reminding the protagonist of someone else. I’ve never met someone who didn’t have this experience at some point in their life. Songs don’t just bring back good memories (and a few bad ones from time to time), but they also have the potential to carry us through periods of life that might not seem possible to survive otherwise. During periods of stress, some pray, I listen.
Music can awaken the senses and slow the beat of the heart. Well practiced, it can become as second nature when played through an instrument as typing on a keyboard.
Like genres in books, the beauty of music is that there is such a wide variety available to choose from and no reason to listen or read just one genre, unless that is your choosing. Varying points in my life have been, in part, defined by the music I listened to, some by the music I played. I’ve never remained purely in one genre for more than a few years with music or books for that matter.
With the exception of around four or five years of my life, music has always been extremely important to me.
(As a note, there were versions of Misunderstood that contained references to songs scattered throughout it, and a few lyrics (before I better understood copyright laws). Though it is possible to secure the rights to use lyrics from the works of others, I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle for a first novel and so I removed the references long before publication. The titles to songs were also removed, almost all them anyway, in recognition that varying ages might not identify with them in the scenes, nor take the time to download and listen to them while reading. Outside of academia, I don’t know many people that study what they read by breaking away from the flow of the story in order to investigate what is written. However some do, so I still struggle a bit with the decision to have left certain references out.)
Regarding why I chose to write about someone who was a musician:
Music was simply something Misunderstood chose to do in the story. When the story began it was something I was thinking about doing, but after learning a bit about the business side, I decided it really wasn’t what I wanted as a whole. I had already invested a number of years into the story by then, so I stuck with this path in the life of the protagonist.
By Chapter Thirteen there are already a number of characters being linked to one another. When you edit your story prior to publication, how do you know what to leave in or take out?
If it is part of the story, keep it; if it has no value to the story itself, cut it out. That was the controlling philosophy behind what became the published version anyway.
I have since begun to question the value of this because there are a great number of experiences we have in real life every day that seem of no value but greatly contribute to our lives without our present awareness always recognizing them. For a movie, those tiny moments of recognition that a director draws an audiences’ attention to are like gold for me as a viewer. Like the first time a movie included a ceiling, or the first time a character became aware of himself as a character being written by a writer within the writer’s story.
The pebble in Chapter Thirteen, recognized by William, was such a moment for me, or at least a first attempt at recognizing one. For an author, life has so much to offer: a piece of debris in the lawn might have a story behind it you can only imagine, even as others complain about the trash someone threw out. Those striations in a rock or pebble may tell a story on a scale of time you’ve not thought of before (especially when you are young). Many can identify with a freshly mowed lawn and perhaps even can smell it when they read, but how many will notice the way the wind tickles a blade of grass unless it is pointed out to them? Especially, if the recognized movement of that particular blade of grass attracts one’s attention to a patch of soil that contains something of much deeper meaning.
The truth of the matter is there are so many interactions at play, you have to select the ones that support the story you are trying to tell. Let the other parts tell other stories. Connect those parts over the lifetime of your career, or leave them all independent; it’s your universe to build.