One night I was driving from South Florida to Orlando to meet my family at a theme park. I put on “A Star-Cross Wasteland” by In This Moment. From one song to the next, my novel fell into place. The desolate desert imagery became real. The monsters, mutated coyotes and deformed cross-breeds of desert-dwelling species, took life. The pain of the tragic love between Moni and Aaron felt blistering.
I offered my thanks to In This Moment in the opening notes of this book. Even today when I hear their songs, the scenes from my novel swirl through my head.
|In my writer's chair and wearing my In this Moment gear with my new novel.|
Most of “Silence the Living” was written to music. It helped me visualize the scenes. In some cases, there’s a connection between the lyrics and what happens in these chapters.
What follows is a guide to the songs I listened to, from many artists, for certain chapters.
Prologue - In This Moment, “Standing Alone”
Moni is standing on a mountain and staring at the inhospitable southern New Mexico desert. She should be dying from the heat, but the aliens are keeping her alive. The infection in her bloodstream is so dangerous that she needs to keep away from every living thing. Maria Brink sings: “Now I’m standing here alone. It’s the only way to survive.”
Chapters 1, 3, and 7 - In This Moment, “Just Drive”
Moni and Aaron are forced on a hasty cross country drive. They’re fleeing the aftermath of the invasion in Florida and the pursuit of law enforcement. Meanwhile, Moni’s dealing with frightening changes the aliens are making to her body. How far must they run? Maria Brink sings: “Tonight is the night, let’s get ready to go. Leave your bags behind and let’s hit the road…We will drive no matter how far. Yes we will drive until the ending of it all.”
Chapter 2 - Straight Line Stitch, “Taste of Ashes”
Florida policewoman Nina Skillings is furious at Moni for all those who died in the invasion, especially the police captain who was her mentor. Nina vows to track Moni down and kill her, at any cost. This was the music for most chapters with Nina. Alexis Brown, who screams “Thorn in your side!” is as angry as I’ve ever heard a woman.
Second half of Chapter 4 and Chapter 12 - In This Moment, “The Promise”
After close encounters with people who try to hurt them, Moni realizes that it’s dangerous for Aaron to stay with her. Either she will infect him or the people after her will kill him. Even though she loves him, she tries to convince him to leave her. She doesn’t want to hurt him, but she has no choice. In this duet, Maria Brink and Adrian Patrick (from Otherwise) sing, “No matter what you say or what you do, I know how this will end. So I’m turning away now. I’m dangerous for you…My promise is I will hurt you.”
Chapter 5 - In This Moment, “Comanche”
This is the song I listened to for every chapter written from the point of view of “the mutant.” It’s a misshapen monster lurking in the waterways of Florida that was left over from the first invasion. This song is intense and angry. Needing to shift into the mindset of a monster that kills for pleasure, this did the trick.
Chapter 14 - In This Moment, “A Star-Crossed Wasteland”
Moni walks into the desert by herself for the first time. It’s still and quiet, yet she fears she won’t be safe and she misses Aaron terribly. Maria Brink sings, “The dust is clearing, the desert is calm. The skies are quiet and I can’t make a sound. And I just wait for you.”
Chapter 15 - Otherwise, “Full Circle”
Aaron is out on his own in Las Cruces, hoping to find a way to help Moni. He’s regretful over the mistakes he’s made that have led him to this point, but he’s determined to set things right. Adrian Patrick sings, “I will believe, in spite of me, and what I have become. I’ll find the one I used to be, to bring me full circle.”
Chapter 16 - In This Moment, “Gun Show”
The pitch black nightfall is all Moni can see, but she hears them closing in on her. She can feel their minds. The coyotes are after her. Will she accept the aid of the aliens inside her to survive? This song starts out in such an ominous way, with the sounds of the storm, a wind chime, ravens, a horse trotting, all setting the stage for an Old Western gun battle. Then it just explodes into madness. That’s this scene. I listened to the same song for Chapter 48, another fight that starts in the desert night. Oh, and there are plenty of guns.
Chapter 18 - In This Moment, “The Last Cowboy”
Moni meets Blake, a New Mexico state ranger who patrols the desert. She’s impressed by his rugged outdoor ways.
Chapter 20 - In This Moment, “The Road”
Moni tracks an infected animal through the desert, and eventually into a cold, dark cave. Maria Brink sings, “No matter how dark the road. You’ll light my way. No matter how far from home. I’ll find my way.”
Chapter 29 - Otherwise, “Die for You”
While Moni must confront her own problems, Aaron is forced to chase after an infected animal as it enters a children’s amusement park. So far, he’s pledged to place his life on the line for her, but now he’s about to really put that promise to the test. Adrian Patrick sings, “I would break, I would burn, I would suffer. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do, do for you…You make me feel so alive. So alive I’d die for you.”
Chapter 33 - Avenged Sevenfold “Crimson Day”
Moni and Aaron sit on a mountainside, watching the sun rise over the desert landscape. They both know they must go separate ways. They’re not sure when, or if, they will see each other again. If Moni can’t get this under control, the world my never be the same. They both wish that time could stand still. M. Shadows sings, “The sun came out and brought you through. A lifetime full of words to say, a hope that time will slow the passing day.”
Chapters 36, 38, 40 and 41 - Tool , “Reflection”
A team of Navy SEALs and a marine scientist dive into a pitch black underwater caves of Peacock Springs in north Florida to catch “the mutant.” They worry about running out of air with dozens of feet of rock between them and the surface. While they hurt the creature, it hunts them. Tool’s whole “Lateralus” album was the perfect musical backdrop for operating in such a distorted environment. “Reflection” is so creepy. And the song goes 3:44 before the lyrics start. Pure Tool!
Chapter 44 - Tori Amos, “Marianne”
Yes, Tori Amos music inspired much of the first novel in this series “Mute.” Here, Moni hearkens back to the time when she had to care for an orphaned girl named Mariella and let her down. That's because Moni has now found Ramona, an immigrant girl stranded in the desert. She must find a way to care for the girl without infecting her. Meanwhile, Tori Amos is, “Having thoughts of Marianne. Quickest girl in the frying pan.”
Chapters 55 through 60 - In This Moment, “Blazin”
Soon after Aaron and Moni enter the small border town of Columbus, New Mexico, it comes under siege by a horde of alien mutants. This song is pure adrenaline-fueled violence. Maria Brink sings, “We’re not gonna stop tonight. We’re gonna burn this city down. We’re not gonna stop tonight. We’re gonna blaze till the morning sun.” That’s the invader mentality right there.
Chapter 61 - Volbeat, “7 Shots”
Meet the most twisted, cold-blooded cowboy in the desert land. Volbeat plays amazing Western-themed metal. Michael Poulsen sings, “Playing around with the good and the evil in his mind. Alone in the desert and cold, so cold.”
Chapter 63 - Five Finger Death Punch, “M.I.N.E. (Ends this way)”
Sometimes lovers just aren’t meant to be together, no matter how much they long for each other. FFDP is well known for their thrash metal, but they are underrated for ballads. Ivan Moody sings, “I know I’d hurt you, deserted you. And now I see it clear. I pulled you closer, tighter. ‘Cause I knew you’d disappear. I just can’t compromise, apologize. There’s nothing you can say. We both knew. It would always end this way.”
Chapter 65 - In This Moment, “Iron Army”
Moni prepares for war, and, follows the advice of one Maria Brink. “I build myself a f**king iron army!”
Chapters 70 and 71 - Shadows Fall, “Burning the Lives”
Brian Fair’s opening lyrics, “Soon a darkened pyramid will rise,” gave me the idea for this scene, and the chaos that follows.
Chapter 80 - Civil Twilight, “Human”
Moni feels more alien than ever. When she sees Aaron, it’s the only thing that makes her feel human. Steven McKellar signs, “It’s only love, it’s only pain. It’s only fear, that runs through my veins. It’s all the things you can’t explain. That make us human.”