The Allyn-a-Dale Playlist

A while back, I shared a number of songs Will Scarlet and I like to get down to on YouTube. I also made mention of a couple of songs Allyn enjoys, thinking at the time that I’d be hard-pressed to scrounge together enough to warrant a playlist of his own.

But since that post’s drafting, Allyn’s been exposed to more of our world’s musical offerings. And though, as a card-carrying minstrel, he rightfully maintains a high standard regarding what he’ll allow in his brain via his ears, he is willing to concede that we’ve got our share of songs worthy of a replay or ten.

So pull out your headphones, Ever On Wordians, for the Merry Men’s minstrel and I have songs to share!

“Play Me” by Neil Diamond

This simple ditty had Allyn at the chorus:

You are the sun, I am the moon
You are the words, I am the tune
Play me

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“All About That Bass (Postmodern Jukebox cover)”

While you might have to cough up some cash to get him to listen to the Meghan Trainor original or most of its numerous parodies, Allyn’s enough of a sucker for old-school jazz to give this reinterpretation top marks.

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“Vincent (Starry Starry Night)” by Don McLean

Speaking of covers, words can’t tell you how I’d love to hear Allyn’s rendition of this number. A quiet, melancholy tribute to a tortured artist? That’s Allyn-a-Dale all over.

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“All the Rowboats” by Regina Spektor

Another number appealing to Allyn’s tortured side. He’s all beautiful angst during the lines:

But the most special are the most lonely
God, I pity the violins
In glass coffins they keep coughing
They’ve forgotten, forgotten how to sing, how to sing

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“Health to the Company” as performed by Blackmore’s Night

A Renaissance Faire favorite, and Allyn’s #1 pick of the five songs listed today. Its mournful piping is lovely to sit there and cry to, if you’re into that sort of thing (which Allyn and I often enough are).

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Now that you’ve got an idea of his tastes, what songs do you think Allyn-a-Dale ought to give a listen? ^^ The comment section awaits your recommendations!

Scarlet Dance Party Playlist

Sometimes I’ll do this thing where I have a song on replay on YouTube for, like, a good hour. This will generally be for my own pleasure, though I won’t lie – I’ve been known to act as the deejay for certain people in my head. Allyn-a-Dale, for instance, likes it when I play gorgeously melancholy songs like Heather Dale’s “Tarnished Silver” or the Psalm 23-based hymn “Shepherd Me, O God”.

Then there’s Will Scarlet, who’s like, “Yeah, that’s great, but what have you got that I can move to?”

Through my ears, we’ve settled on a Top 5 he and I are mutually happy to play on loop. In no particular order:

“One More Night” by Maroon 5

A contender for Will Scarlet’s personal theme song, really.

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“Dancing Through Life” from the original cast recording of Wicked

Fiyero, incidentally, is among Will’s Broadway dream roles.

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“Numa Numa” by… who exactly is responsible for this?

Feel-good tunes with indecipherable lyrics, for the win!

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“Radio Ghost Town” by NewWorldSun

For this one, he’s apparently got some “Dancing with the Stars”-worthy routine worked out with Edgwyn Wyle. ‘Cause my Wilderhark tailor may not have Will’s hip-hop moves, but his ballroom skills are on point.

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“Immortals” by Fall Out Boy

Including the “Big Hero 6” video version, here, because HECK YES, “BIG HERO 6”. Weirdly, though, as far as personal jams go, this one belongs even more to Heartsinger (of “Reality As We Know It” fame) than to Will. This song comes up, Singer breaks it down.

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Bonus Track: “Love is an Open Door” from Frozen

Not so much to dance to; he just likes belting the duet with me. ❤

Which song(s) could you listen to nonstop for hours? Sing about it in the comments!

Behind the Talette: The Soul Shepherdess (Part 1)

It’s the last Monday of the month, meaning my Channillo series has grown by one Wilderhark Talette. ^o^

Maybe you couldn’t tell from the opening poem, title tale, and closing chapter of “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”, or the recent post centered around my emerging bond with Rosie, but the minstrel point of view is a favorite of mine. And like “The Sky-Child”, the next four installments of my Wilderhark Talettes will be all about how the Wilderhark world gained a special songster – one you’ve not met before, though the name does make a cameo appearance in Book 6.5

“Gant-o’-the-Lute,” he returned the greeting. “So, that’s you, is it? Wasted no time getting started with an instrument of your own, I see. Who did you find to apprentice you, then? Barden-a-Tor? Balladry Sol?”

– Ioan-o’-the-North in “The Sky-Child”

Balladry Sol. The answer to a question that once did I wonder: Are any Wilderhark minstrels girls?

Not often, it turns out. Hardly any at all. Or at least, such was the case before Lute’s time. But in “The Soul Shepherdess” – Part 1 shared on Channillo today – we meet an exception: An out-of-the-ordinary little girl with a musical destiny.

And as we all know by now, you can’t have a Wilderhark minstrel story without music. Each chapter of “The Soul Shepherdess” will include at least one original song – which are well enough to read about, but better yet to hear. So for today’s “Behind the Talette” treat, I’ve recorded a video of me and my lute performing the very first composition of she who’ll become Ballady Sol. Ladies, gentlemen, and whoever else, I present to you, “Glass-Light Goodnight” (as shared on my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page).

Glass-Light Goodnight Still

For the touching tale of how this song came to be, make sure you’re subscribed to the Wilderhark Talettes on Channillo, and this story and more shall be yours, all yours!

The Ballad of Rosie and Me

Once upon a time, a girl desired a lute.

She couldn’t remember what exactly had placed this longing within her heart or when. She assumed her minstrel characters were at least in part to blame, since their own skill on the lute was nothing short of legendary on multiple plains of reality. High goodness knew she would have given much to be one of them when she grew up. (Whenever that happened. Keep in mind, this girl was already in her twenties.)

For years, the girl told herself she would reward herself with the purchase of a lute just as soon as she published her younger minstrel’s book. She had even begun setting some money aside into a lute fund for that sunshiny day down the road. But then, one day, and almost of the blue, it sank home: Life is short. Seize the day. There was no good reason at all that she shouldn’t buy her lute now. So that is precisely what the girl did.

And that girl… *solemn nods* …was me.

Me and my Lute, black and white triptych

And this is my lovely new 8-courser, Rosie, here all the way from the Amazon (…dot com). I about lost my mind with excitement when she arrived. The smell of her still thrills me every time I take her out to play – and that soft, full-body reverberation when the clasps on her case snap open. Tuning her is a delicate, time-consuming exercise; she loves to go flat every time I turn my back, silly girl. Ah, but then the music we make together.

Me and my Lute 08

Because most of the songs I want to play upon her are my minstrels’ compositions – and therefore, not to be found in any lute songbooks around here – I’m having to teach myself to play them by ear. And I thought trying to play piano by ear was rough going! But if I weren’t the tenacious sort, most of you reading this right now wouldn’t even know I exist, so I keep at it, more or less patiently struggling to get it right. For the first while, I made a point of practicing every day.

Then the high G string broke.

Along with my heart.

Rosie was in her case at the time. I was minding my business across the room when I heard the twang. With trepidation, I checked to see what may have caused the sound, and alas! Agony! Woe!

A blue day for me and my baby.
A blue day for me and my baby.

To my surprise (I guess this whole “getting it” thing, with him, is more than a one-time fluke?), it was Gant-o’-the-Lute who proved the greatest comfort in my throes of grief, assuring me that a snapped string was no great tragedy. “A broken string is not a broken lute,” said he, his gentle (and technically imaginary) touch upon my back a balm to my distress and disillusionment. “Take heart. It happens to the best of us. Which I would know, being the best of us.”

Thanks, minstrel mentor.
Thanks, minstrel mentor.

Of secondary comfort was the fact that I could still play most of my self-taught songs on the remaining strings. And on the side of silver linings, I got to come out of this episode feeling like a boss when I restrung the high G myself (once my Amazon order of replacements strings arrived).

So all’s well that ends well. At last I know the joy of joining in sweet union with the instrument of my heart – much like a young Jackillen Gant in “The Sky-Child”. And for those of you eager for a chance to hear what Rosie and I sound like together, I’ve recorded a video of us performing a Gant-o’-the-Lute original – “On Adventure” (as featured in “The Song Caster”). Click the pic below to view the vid on my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page. I hope you enjoy my minstrel debut. ^_^

On Adventure Vid

Guest-o’-the-Lute (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “He quite quotably described himself in the fourth of the Wilderhark Tales novellas thus:

I am called Gant-o’-the-Lute, by most. Lute only, by my friends. Jackillen, by my dear beloved. Minstrel extraordinaire, by anyone with any musical taste to speak of. And far less pleasant things by those who’ve had occasion to meet more than their match in myself in this field or that and were inclined to be rather sore sports about it.

“Welcome, Lute!” Will greets the minstrel in blue now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – what are your thoughts regarding the multiple people who have seen you on the cover of your latest book and assumed it’s a girl?”

Off-camera, Allyn buries his face in his hands. Lute’s eyes, meanwhile, flash a bit over-bright, but the fingers softly tickling the strings of the lute in his lap never tense. “It’s bothersome,” he says coolly, “but I suppose they are not wholly to be blamed. I was an uncommonly pretty lad.”

“An aesthetic you’ve yet to outgrow. Now, though I just now called it ‘your book’, the fact is that it contains a number of stories, only three of which feature you. Tell us a bit about those?”

“Certainly. Chief among them is the titular tale, ‘The Sky-Child’. It follows me from my infancy through the daring escapade that would later land me in the middle of the infamous Seventh Spell – all of it excellent, though in my opinion, it’s not ‘til I make the transition from child to minstrel that the story really starts to sing. Somewhat literally.” He smiles. “The narrative is interspersed with original songs.

“The second story of which I’m a part is a companion to ‘The Seventh Spell’, offering perspectives on the adventure not seen during Book Three of The Wilderhark Tales. And the third, the collection’s finale, serves to echo the poem at the book’s opening, as well as matters touched upon in ‘The Sky-Child’. Prepare to shed tears, Scarlet; I happen to know you’re an easy cry.”

The corner of Will’s mouth crooks upward. “I’m an easy lot of things. A slight switching of gears: Of the stories in the book that don’t include you, which is your favorite and why?”

“Hmm,” Lute hums, his inner eye skimming the table of contents. “‘Skie Welduwark ’.”

Will blinks. “Was that English?”

“Welken, actually, as is the story – an account of the genesis of earth and Sky. I’d have given much to be there,” he says wistfully. “How marvelous would it have been to watch the world first awake? Oh, the songs of it I’d sing!”

“And well worth hearing, they would be,” Will concedes. “One last thing I’d like to hear from you, if you please. Tell me, Lute, what is our mutual author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He bats his lashes. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Lute’s laugh rings ‘round the stage. “Now, that would set you crying. I’m too much for you, Will Scarlet, and I think you know it well. That leaves secrets to tell. What shall I disclose?… Mm, not the most mortifying.” He shakes his head. “She’d not soon forgive me, and I’ve need of her yet. A deep secret, then: As an author, there are truths of her to be found in near every character she writes. But of all those who populate her Wilderhark Tales – and though I would have once been mortified to admit this is so – I believe she is most like me. Not in musical skill, mind you, or in most skills at all; she’s far beneath me there. Yet in spirit, we have much in common. Far too much. Though she’s got it the worse,” he says, his smile as bright and sharp as sunlight, “for I less often bother to play at what you call ‘being nice’.”

“So I’ve had opportunity to observe,” says Will. “Hey, Allyn, how ‘bout a quick word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by Danielle E. Shipley’s The Sky-Child and Other Stories (A Wilderhark Tales Collection)’, Book 6.5 in the series.

Sky-Child Cover, front 02

Born into a world his heart knows as beneath him, an extraordinary boy becomes a man of music, hopeful that someday he’ll find a way higher.

As the first day dawns, a world comes awake, order and disorder striking a dangerous balance.

Under the stars, a princess and tailor trade age-old lore, little dreaming of the future that could trap them in the past.

All of it in, around, and far above the timeless trees of Wilderhark, the forest whose secrets reveal themselves slowly, if ever at all.

Tales of beginnings. Tales of quests for belonging. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew something of Wilderhark’s tales. Now for the stories that fall in between.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you as well, Gant-o’-the-Lute. And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

“Home is Behind, the World Ahead” (Fairy Tale Fortnight)

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In the spirit of Fairy Tale Fortnight (brought to you by The Book Rat and A Backwards Story) and in anticipation of the June release of my fourth Wilderhark Tale, “The Song Caster”, I’ve been sharing excerpts from a never-before-released (and not entirely finished, yet) story chronicling the life of our minstrel in blue prior to his introduction in Wilderhark Tale #3. Part 1 is linked here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, and below is the final installment (until the rest of the story releases in full, someday). Enjoy!

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Three harvests, the Gant family shared together. But by the time the season for the fourth had arrived, and after some weeks of illness, Jeromey Gant had died. And Jackillen was a little surprised at how terribly sorry he felt. After all, he had lived far fewer years with the man than he had without him; surely the thought of things returning to the way they had been before was not such an unpleasant one?…

But to Jackillen’s further regret, things did not return to the way they had been, for Wendara refused to give up her beloved Jeromey’s farm. She stubbornly struggled with all she had to bring in the harvest without the help of her late husband, and almost as little help from her son, who developed the maddening habit of disappearing whenever there was a task in want of tending to (which, on a farm, there always was). Many a time had Wendara begun to outline a list of things to be done, glanced away for the merest moment, and looked back to find that she was talking to an empty room. Many a time would she pause to rest in the middle of a long, hot day of toil, and turn her face into a cool refreshing breath of a breeze, only to realize with a jolt of anger that she could detect the faraway sounds of an all-too-familiar duet of voice and plucked strings, carried on the wind.

“What kind of a son are you?!” Wendara railed, when at last she had had enough. “What kind of a son leaves his widowed mother with only the scantest of farming experience to handle everything on her own?! You haven’t lifted a finger to help me since the harvest began, and now look!” She jabbed a finger at the window. “Winter’s first snowfall, and only half the crops brought in – if that! – and no thanks at all to you, you worthless, selfish, lazy boy!”

“Well, that’s a fine way to talk,” said Jackillen, his expression wounded. “Worthless, selfish, and lazy, she says… It’s not that I’m lazy; more like gone-half-crazy, just sitting around this dull town in the Down…”

“Don’t start that again!” Wendara shouted. “I’ve heard enough of your complaints about our home here, and MORE than enough of that absurd, sing-song manner of speech!”

Jackillen’s eyes flashed as he strove to keep his annoyance in check. “There is nothing absurd in attempting to word things in ways that are pleasing for ears to hear. And as for your having to handle everything on your own, that is hardly necessary. It’s not as if I’m the only able-bodied young man in the vicinity. The most able-bodied, most likely, but not the only. Why don’t you hire a fellow or two with naught better to do than root ‘round in the ground to assist you in doing just that?”

“Hire them with what?” Wendara demanded. “Where do you think a farming family’s money comes from, a goose laying gold in the barn?! We need produce to sell, Jackillen; produce from the surplus of what we harvest for ourselves. But because you could not be bothered to help me, we shall be fortunate to have just barely enough to last us through the year and put next year’s seed in the ground, with nothing to spare for sale. So unless you’re planning to sell that blasted lute of yours, which I am seriously of half-a-mind to see that you do…”

“What, sell my lute?” said Jackillen, brows lifted in surprise. “Oh, indeed, no – that would be most foolish. There is far more money to be gotten from keeping my instrument than from selling it. You go ahead and hire a boy or two to assist with the farm, come spring; promise them wages at the end of the year, for by then we will have more than enough to pay.”

Left as she was with few options other than to place her trust in her son, thus did Wendara do. And on the Forespring day when the snows first melted, this selfsame son – a boy-turned-man clothed in a commoner’s finery made all of the blues of the sky he loved so well, his lute and a traveler’s staff crisscrossed upon his back – half-walked, half-bounded away from the Down and the farm and his mother and the Jackillen Gant he’d been. For Jackillen Gant, though a wonderful name for an ordinary person, was no sort of name for a professional minstrel – particularly a minstrel as far from ordinary as Jackillen was sure he could not help but be.

A minstrel’s name was not a thing to be taken lightly, Jackillen knew; for it was that which first proclaimed to the world exactly who the minstrel was, or thought he was, which could well end up being truer than the truth, when all was said and done. Like Ioan-o’-the-North, a minstrel’s name ought to tell from whence the minstrel came, whether regarding literal geography, or no more nor less than the place inside where the songster’s fount of music sprang. A minstrel’s name, in short, bared a minstrel’s heart, and the home where the heart could be found. In Jackillen’s case, his heart was with music, and his home with the man who had given it to him: The music of a name in full, the music of a father’s love, and – perhaps most precious of them all – the music of his dearly cherished lute. In light of these things, Jackillen’s minstrel name practically chose itself. So it was that when Jackillen Gant, aged only eighteen, stepped out into the world as a minstrel, he did so as Gant-o’-the-Lute.

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Song Caster Cover, resize

And thus do the minstrel’s adventures begin, to be continued in “The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales)”! The book’s slated to launch on June 24th, but if you’re game to read and review the tale early, drop me a line via my contact page and I’ll send you a PDF of the tale in all its practically completed glory!

That’s a wrap for Ever On Word’s part in Fairy Tale Fortnight. But forget yet not, there’s still a little time left in my giveaway! Check out my feature on A Backwards Story and/or my interview with The Book Rat and enter to win a free paperback of Book Three of The Wilderhark Tales, “The Seventh Spell!

In Which 2 Hearts Hook Up for the Book Blogger Love-A-Thon (+ Book Spine Poetry!)

Ah, Valentine’s Day; the day of lovers. Lovers of significant others, or – for us romantically unattached people – lovers of other significant things. Things like, say, books! And/or blogging about books, and/or chatting it up with other people who also love books, blogging, or combining the twain. For people such as these (attached or otherwise), Katelyn of Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands and Alexa of Alexa Loves Books have put together a love-filled weekend blog hop by the name of The Book Blogger Love-A-Thon!

Everyone who signed up got paired with another bookish blogger for a blind date— well, no, it was actually just an interview swap. But my Love-A-Thon partner and I hit it off quite well, carrying on in precisely the way I once upon a time made friends with my beloved writing bestie, so if we’re calling this interview a friend date, I think we can likewise call it a success. Presenting my exchange with Mara of the Book Marauder blog, Part 1!

(Edit: Stay tuned after the interview — that is, keep scrolling down — for my response to the Love-A-Thon’s first Mini Challenge: Book Spine Poetry!)

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Danielle: Hello, Mara! Thank you for joining me. First things first: What is the most precious object in your possession, and why do you value it so highly? (No, I’m totally not planning to have any hired thugs steal it for ransom money; don’t be absurd. *looks oh-so innocent*)

Mara: (Can we please note that you chose to start this with a really meaningful question and the first one I was going to ask was “So, N*SYNC or Backstreet Boys as a writing soundtrack?” haha)

It’s probably my sister’s copy of “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoyesky. It’s the most trashed and coffee-stained book I have ever held in my hands, and usually my books need to be super clean (I think it’s gotten to a point where I need help ahhhh), but it just has so much character. I actually had a fire scare at my place recently, and it was the first thing I grabbed when I bolted down the stairs, which did surprise me. I expected I’d go for my phone or laptop, but nope, rescued that battered and dog-eared book instead.

So let me ask you, what are the top three things you’d save if your house caught fire?

Danielle: (Lol! For the record, Backstreet Boys, all the way!)

A house fire: One of my greatest realistic fears. o.o I’m pretty compulsive about the state of my belongings, too, so I get what you mean about wanting your books clean and tidy. Know what’s worse for books than coffee stains, though? Burning to ash! In the event of a fire…

1) I’d go for my flashdrive first, as it contains a careful backup of my cherished documents and pictures. I’m pretty sure my mind would snap completely if I lost those irreplaceable files.

2) Hmm, now it gets trickier. What to save next? Ahh, my ocarina! With my house burned to the ground, I’ll need the reassurance of music in my life. And, y’know, trying to lug the piano out the door might not work out so well.

3) As there can only be three, we’ll make the last item my “Wicked” hoodie. I’ll need the cozy comfort only a hoodie can bring, plus it comes with the lovely memory of when I bought it – the first (and so far only) time I’ve seen “Wicked” onstage.

Speaking of lovely memories – or perhaps not so lovely – what’s the earliest thing you can remember?

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Mara: (It’s uncanny how this is actually 100% legit the first memory I have and how I will help Bruno become famous with it ha!)

The first thing I can remember is me sitting in a stroller, looking up at a big palm tree overflowing with monkeys, and being surrounded by tigers, giraffes and bears. Well, you certainly ask yourself what a little girl would be doing in the presence of such dangerous animals, and so did I in my 2-year-old mind, but turns out it was only a toy store and my mum was buying a Christmas present for me (a very pretty monkey I named Mr. Nielson), convinced I was asleep. I feel like that monkey has been a constant part of my life ever since. For 20+ years now. Wow. He is watching me right now. And he looks really creepy now that it’s old and faded and just STARING all the time. It used to be so much more, with all that kid imagination turning him into anything he wanted to be. (Am I the only one who just KNOWS that this interview will be a walk down nostalgia lane somehow? haha)

Have you had something that long that you can’t part with? Or something that represents your inner child or helps you connect with it? I feel like that’s why I read so obsessively, because it seems to be the only time I can connect with my mini-me’s full-on imagination now that I seem to have grown up. It’s like books (and Mr. Nielson) are my own personal Peter Pan. 

Bruno requested that I get his good side. I think I managed all right.
Bruno requested that I get his good side. I think I managed all right. (And yes, I’ve given him a fox tail, because foxes.)

Danielle: Look, Bruno! You’re famous! Do you forgive me for leaving you to die in a burning house, now? ^^ …Aw, he looks so defeated. Fine! I choose him over my “Wicked” hoodie. I hope that cheers him up, some. Related note: We should totally include pics of Bruno and Mr. Nielson in our blog posts!

I don’t think I do have many things I’ve had longer than Bruno. (He’s been with me since I was 7.) But I’ve found that objects aren’t the best thing to bring back my inner child: It’s music! When I hear songs from waaay back in my childhood, it’s like emotional time-traveling. It’s crazy how old melodies and lyrics can stick in my head, even if I haven’t thought about them in a decade or more!

This calls for a musical question. (Heh, heh, our readers are getting a good look at how our minds move between topics, aren’t they?) What is the last song you listened to, and how did it make you feel?

Mara: (I’ve just asked Mr. Nielson, and he is ready to make his net debut any time we want him too! I’m pretty sure Bruno needs the confidence boost, too, after you left him to die in an inferno!)

By the way, I had to google ocarina (I am a failure, I know), and wow, it looks awesome. I wish I could play something as unusual, all I ever got were violin lessons. I’m sighing defeatedly right now, just so you know. (How long have you played?)

The last song I listened to was… drum roll… the Star Wars title theme Revenge of the Sith style. Yeah. I’m THAT cool. It always manages to make me feel empowered and, funnily enough, very on-topic, nostalgic. I always wanted to be Queen Amidala (saying “I always wanted to be Princess Leia” wasn’t an option because yes, I am too young to work the original trilogy, so there goes my awesomeness again).

What’s your favorite writing soundtrack? And, because I’m endlessly curious, what’s the one instrument you wish you’d learned but didn’t? 

Danielle: Ah, the violin! My youngest sister’s played since she was 2-years-old, the little prodigy, while my other little sister played flute, piccolo, and bassoon. I had twelve years of piano lessons, with some clarinet, tenor saxophone, and percussion mixed in for flavor. I didn’t know what an ocarina was until my first summer working at a Renaissance Faire, a couple years ago, and my parents bought one for me as a birthday present last year. So I’ve been teaching myself how to play for the last few months. All my previous music experience is helping the process along, I think. : )

My favorite writing soundtrack… I listened to a lot of “Pirates of the Caribbean” during last National Novel Writing Month (are you familiar with NaNoWriMo? ^^), since that project was set on (and beneath) the sea. I’m also a big fan of the “Lord of the Rings” scores. Other favorite songs include “Tarnished Silver” by Heather Dale, “Dancing Through Life” from “Wicked”, a whoooole lot of songs from Disney… But it’s no use trying to write when these are playing, because I’ll be too distracted by loving the music!

As for an instrument I wish I’d learned to play, I really wish I could master the lute. I plan to learn someday, so I can be like my minstrel characters! They are to me as Queen Amidala is to you. ^_^

Speaking of characters (hello, one of my favorite topics!), who are your top three favorite literary characters of all time? …or of today, since I know how these lists can change!

Mara: I just love NANOWRIMO! Ahh! And I also adore film soundtracks for reading and writing! Have you listened to the X-Men: First Class one? It’s perfection. (Can you blame Wicked for distracting you, though? I can’t sit still when Defying Gravity comes on, I have to belt out the lyrics no matter where I’m at.)

I’m sorry this took me so long to answer, but I had some serious discussion going on with practically everyone I know as to which characters to put on my top 3 list.

Mara Interview Tweet 1.5

(It still breaks my heart to leave out so many *sits in corner and sobs*) Well, here goes nothing:

1. Holden Caulfield (I know that’s pretty cliché, but damn, The Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books. People either love or hate Holden, but I think that’s what makes him such a great character to begin with – he gets a reaction out of everyone. I think it’s super important for a character to leave a mark, and everyone has had a little Holden inside of them at some time in their lives, and the fact he’s been persevering for so long makes him my top choice, I think. ARGH THIS IS SO HARD.)

2. Gandalf (because he’s Gandalf. He’s got some of the best lines in the entire book and he’s been an inspiration for so many other characters in all kinds of genres (*cough*Dumbledore*cough*). He’s almost like a real guiding light to the reader, and I love how he just “is”. He just steps right out of the pages.)

3. Richard Gansey (The Raven Boys – because, well, I love him to bits. He’s not necessarily up there with the other greats, but he’s my most personal choice, because I really, really wish I had his sense of wonder and adventureness (is that even a word? I think I just made that up). What really made me just sit there in awe after I finished that book was how it didn’t take anything to imagine him. He just sort of forms in your head and stays right there and stays with you long after you’re done reading.)

My explanations are really off, but it’s SO HARD TO PICK JUST THREE. I think I’m going to stay in this little cocoon of an existential crisis for some more.

But first: as a writer, what do you think is the hardest part of “creating” a character? What makes them real in your opinion? And how do you go about making them work on page?

(Is it possible for books to attack you? I think they know I left out all of their characters on this list… oh God, I feel so bad…)

Mara Interview Tweet 2

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How did I answer Mara’s character creation query? Hop on over to her blog, Book Marauder, for our Book Blogger Love-A-Thon interview, Part 2!

Edit: And now, for my contribution to the a Love-A-Thon Mini Challenge: My first-ever attempt at Book Spine Poetry!

Book Spine Poem

“Untitled Masterpiece (Just the Perfect Name)”

Fair is the rose.
Sunshine, fairest.
Winter’s child, one of two minds.
All good children…
…And then there were none.
This is all.