Welcome to Biting-Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein. We’ll cover urban fantasy, vampires, pop culture, and all things Joss Whedon. Unlike other fantasy blogs, we don’t insist on body cavity searches (unless you ask politely). Snarkiness is most welcome...though we won't promise not to bite back!

Sunday, February 05, 2012
  The Muse and music
Mario here:

How many of you demand absolute peace and quiet to write? Not me. I need sounds to distract the chattering in my head and let my brain concentrate on dredging words out of the mental sludge. Apparently so did Ernest Hemingway (good company, no?) as he couldn't work surrounded by quiet. He needed white noise to filter his thoughts and release the literary ones on the page. In his Key West home, Hemingway set up his writing desk where he could hear his servants and outside traffic go about the chores of the day.

Everybody has different tastes. A writing friend cranks up the heavy metal. Others like familiar golden-oldies. Me? After a foray into electronic and ambient (a.k.a. wallpaper music), I've gravitated to jazz. All the stations at the top of my list come from public radio, such as Jazz24-KPLU from Oylmpia, WA. Besides a deep playlist, I appreciate the self-deprecating jabs at their genre. (You want me to play a tune? I thought this was jazz. And...wherever jazz is, I is.)

Closer to home, in fact, two blocks away is the local station, KUVO, with some of the coolest voices to DJ their turntables--Erik Troe, Rodney Franks, Doug Crane, plus the syndicated programs Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland, and late night, Jazz with Bob Parlocha.

Then up Interstate 25, there is KUNC, in Greeley-which hooks me with their laid-back vibe, what I remember FM radio was back in the day. A show I discovered through them is Jazz After Hours, hosted by Jim Wilke. The cat oozes mellowness and cool. I enjoy when he announces shows at various venues about the country. The Blue Note. Bohemian Caverns. Snug Harbor. Dazzle. Yoshi's. Makes me feel so cosmopolitan just listening.

I also have Pandora bookmarked. I'm sure you all have built your own stations using their music genome.

Interestingly, at home, the spoken word like talk radio or the news distracts me. But at a coffee shop or diner, I find the random chatter and assorted noises--the gush of the espresso machine, the rattle of china--rather soothing. For that reason I don't write in a library. All that damn silence is so damn loud! If I can fade in and out, like when painting or doing paperwork, I do listen to spoken word. My favorites include iWine radio, hosted by the Wine Fairy, Lynn Kreilow Chamberlain, who interviews vintners, oenophiles, restaurateurs, epicures, and in general, wealthy lushes, for the lowdown on the fermented grape industry. Rich professional drunks--what I aspire to.

If I need a laugh, then there is the NPR program, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, infamous for their snark and wonky satire of the week's news.

Speaking of things to listen to, try those cool Canadian cats behind the Paul The Book Guy website. Listen to your favorite authors or find new ones on Paul Alves' iTunes podcasts.

And then, the call for help goes out and who comes charging to the rescue? Who else but the League of Reluctant Adults? Fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss asked for donations in support of World Builders and we answered the call. His favorite charity with them is Heifer International, which promotes education, sustainable agriculture, and local industry. They give away sheep and goats. Ba...a...a!

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Anyone in searching for our books can use this link:


and it will show you every wonderful thing you can bid for!!!

Good charity worth considering!!

My neighbor contracted with some landscapers last summer and for three months the air was filled with the sound of stone cutters shrieking as they cut through flagstones. Three of us on the block work from home and we agreed we were slowly going insane, and killing our neighbor and burning his house down didn't seem like a bad idea at all.

We resisted the lure of murder and he finished his back yard patio with fireplace and waterfall, and for some reason pigeons decided they love it and they sit on it all day and poop on it. I swear I didn't make any sacrifices to voodoo gods, but I can't vouch for my neighbors...
Jeanne: Of course. Go bid, everybody.
Bonnie: Murder & voodoo. Yes!
Like everything having to do with writing, my quiet/loud, solitary/crowded, music/no music moods are all over the place.

When rewriting and editing at home, I prefer quiet, like with earplugs, the rifle range #3 earplugs that make it so you can't hear even the voices in your head.

I tend to go to Stella's and use an iPod when writing first drafts. Here's a sample of my favorite writing playlist, called Floaty:

Teardrop; Massive Attack
The Crystal Cat; Dan Deacon
Coat of Senses; Coloma
he near krxern; grandma
To Kiss Or Not To Kiss; Richard Gibbs
Sadeness Part 1; Enigma
We Travel the Spaceways; Sun Ra
Masoom; A.R. Rahman
Elysium; Hans Zimmer & Lisa
When It's Cold I'd Like to Die (LP Version); Moby
House Of The Ancestors; Afro Celt Sound System

Mostly songs without words, or without words I can understand.
Chris: You had me at Enigma. Great list. Now I have more to add. Thanks.
Chris-- unlike Mario, I can't listen to music while I write. Like you, it's because if it's a song with lyrics I know, I have to sing along with it. Too distracting! I do like the ambiance of a restaurant or coffee shop, though. the background hum doesn't bother me...unless the couple in the next booth is having a knock down, drag out fight and then I have to listen...book fodder, you know.

Bonnie, I had a neighbor with two barking dogs that drove me crazy for ten years...yes, I know. I tried to be a good neighbor and remind them not to leave the windows open so the dogs could bark into my yard but they would "forget." then...suddenly, wonderfully, the dogs died within a week of each other and I SWEAR I had nothing to do with it!!!! The peace in our neighborhood now is a joy to behold!!!

I listen to punk or some folk rock. All with lyrics, which tend to influence and inspire me.
Each of the songs on my playlist says something specific about a character.

(and how many parties could I clear out with Joan Baez and Slayer both on my list?)
Betsy: Folk-punk? The Indigo Girls do the Sex Pistols?
Daven: I'd stay for free booze.
No matter what I'm writing -- horror, SF, fantasy, erotica -- I like love songs, and the more emotional the better. They just fill me such emotion and I get high. A lot of the time, though, it's just what's on my computer, set for random. I need something in the background. I could probably dive right in at a coffee shop. I should try it one day. Good topic, Mario.
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