Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Weight of Their Own Fictions: Narrative Music by S.G. Redling

photo by Toril Lavender
-->Today S.G. Redling, author of several books including the Dani Britton series, drops by for a Narrative Music conversation and touches on a topic I don't think we've covered yet: music to create narrative to. Tunes that leave psychic impressions - like a Rorschach for writers... and characters. Give it a read, then check out her latest novel, Baggage, and keep up with her at her website.

The Weight of Their Own Fictions
by S.G. Redling

It’s possible I am the curator of the least noir soundtrack ever compiled. My favorite story songs include The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, 500 Miles, and that Jim Croce classic, Roller Derby Queen. Not exactly gritty gumshoe stuff.

But when it comes to songs that move me to create story, the selection gets a little less corny. One of my favorites right now is Waitress Song by First Aid Kit. It starts off with a classic escape fantasy –

I could move to a small town and become a waitress.
Say my name was Stacy and I was figuring things out.

They sing of the childish fantasy of running away to the circus. They talk about sleepless nights in Chicago over a loud bar that are still the result of a fiction.

Girls, they just want to have fun. And the rest of us hardly know we are.

As a writer, what I love about this song is that she isn’t telling a story, she’s singing about the stories we tell ourselves, the narratives we dream about escaping to. The song returns over and over to the hard lamentation.

It’s a dark, twisted road we are on, and we all have to walk it alone.

But then ends on a soft, wistful hope of walking along the ocean, being awed by its power and realizing how small our lives are. The song closes with this revelation:

And we’ll never feel lost anymore.

The gorgeous vocals on this track cast this line in the same tone as the stories of the waitress and the circus, bringing up the fear that this philosophical realization is just another fantasy we hide behind.

For me, songs like this throw light into the corners of what makes stories work. It’s more than selling a believable lie. Dark fiction that satisfies readers requires characters who stare down, not only the Villain, but also the weight of their own fictions.

S.G. Redling is a fifteen-year veteran of morning radio, an avid traveler, and a so-so gardener. S.G. Redling currently lives in West Virginia. Her last book, Baggage, can be purchased at Amazon.

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