Tag Archives: miles davis

Wild Territories: JazzSaints of the Bell Forging Cycle

The Jazz Saints Of The Bell Forging Cycle

Red Litten World is out the door. The third adventure of Waldo Bell is now in the hands of you, my incredible readers. This puts us halfway in what I currently expect to be a six book series. (You can find out more at bellforgingcycle.com – hints abound.)

Since many of you have been asking, I thought it’d be fun to start a series of blog posts where delve into some of the decisions I made with the world building of The Bell Forging Cycle. It’ll be a space to offer a little more insight into places, people, and cultures of the Territories and share a little more of my process.

First up… the jazz saints.


If you’re a longtime reader, there is no doubt that you have noticed that Jazz often plays a subtle role in each book. It’s the background notes of Lovat. It’s the sound emanating from the radios, it’s the crackly voice behind the static. Film noir is often punctuated by Jazz, and I wanted that same feeling of noir to punctuate The Bell Forging Cycle.

Throughout the series, you’ll find that the jazz musicians of our yesteryears are treated like saints within the Territories. (How Jazz came to fulfill this role is an ongoing mystery.) They carry titles with their names, often born of religious themes. Over the generations since the Aligning their songs have shifted from that of entertainment and are treated as something closer resembling today’s hymns or canticles.

I thought it would be fun to chronologically explore some of the songs that show up within the books. As I do, I’ll go into more details explain why I chose them, and why I thought they fit in the world. First up…


Billie HolidayGloomy SundayBillie Holiday

Mentioned: The Stars Were Right – Chapter Two

Of course, it’s Billie Holiday who get’s the distinction of being first. Early in The Stars Were Right Wal hears the noodle cart vendor whistling the first few bars from this iconic ballad when he’s on his way to meet Thad. In a lot of ways I picked this because it sat the mood, Lovat is a damp gloomy place most of the time and especially in the lower levels. I figured it’d be fun to use a song as haunting as this like this to really amp up that feeling.


Miles DavisI Waited for YouMiles Davis

Mentioned: The Stars Were Right – Chapter Eleven

I’m a big fan of cool jazz, and there’s no one cooler than Miles Davis. Referred to as “Brother Davis” by Wal, I wanted to have a song that worked for the scene where Wal waits to meet Hagen. The fact that Wal recognizes the song also hints at his inner workings. He’s not someone who goes on at length about Jazz and its musicians, but he clearly is able to recognize particular songs even instrumentals. I liked that, it was a little detail about his personality that wasn’t too overt.


Duke EllingtonTake the A TrainDuke Ellington

Mentioned: The Stars Were Right  – Chapter Nineteen

Okay, I am cheating here a bit. I don’t actually mention the title of this track, Wal just hears a maero whistling a tune he recognizes as coming from “Saint Ellington”. In my mind those that song will always be Take the A Train, or in Wal and Hagen’s case I guess the A-monorail.


Count BasieA Hard Day’s NightCount Basie

Mentioned: Old Broken Road – Chapter One… sorta.

Okay, so I’m kind of cheating twice. In the bar scene during the opening of Old Broken Road. Wal mentions very briefly that an old jazz number is playing on the piano. In early manuscripts, I had called it out as a “W. J. Bassy number” but ended up cutting it. Look, let me have this one, it’s the only Jazz mentioned in Old Broken Road. (Basie also gets a brief mention in Red Litten World chapter six as well.)


[!] Note: The next few numbers are mentioned in Red Litten World. While they’re not exactly spoilery, you might want to hold off reading further until you’ve finished the novel.


Continue reading The Jazz Saints Of The Bell Forging Cycle

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Friday Link Pack 01/31/14

10 Key Terms That Will Help You Appreciate Fantasy Literature

It’s time to share a few interesting links I have found throughout the week. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming year? Let me know!

Writing:

Mapping the world of Mark Twain
It’s no secret that Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors. I was excited when this showed up in my RSS feed. When I saw the map, I was blown away.

10 Key Fantasy Literature Terms
Nice write up covering the terms for the various sub-genres of fantasy. Everything from Portal Fantasy, Secondary Worlds, to the New Weird (technically the subgenre The Stars Were Right falls inside). It’s good info and worth checking out.

A Novel List of Atypical Sci-Fi from the Seattle Public Library
My home town’s Library compiled a nice list of solid science fiction. There’s a lot of good stuff on here, some of my favorites: Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age and China Mieville’s The City and The City.

Art:

Joao Ruas’ “Verso”
Thinkspace gallery is featuring the work of one of my favorite artists: Joao Ruas. If you live anywhere near Culver City, California get yourself over to see this stuff. His work is incredible.

I Am Hello Kitty
Very beautiful and fascinating look into the people behind the iconic characters in New York’s Times Square.

Random:

So the new Space Shuttle is amazing…
Meet the next Space Shuttle. It’s tiny. It only needs one rocket, and it can be towed behind a pickup truck.

Art of the Title: Black Sails
Art of the Title interviews the creators of the Black Sails title sequence. I love it, the music, the motion, basically everything. It’s awesome to know the creators were inspired by Kris Kuksi.

Please Advise
Letters of Note shares this quick memo sent in 1969 by record producer Teo Macero to executives at Columbia Records over Miles Davis’ album: Bitches Brew. (In my humble opinion: one of the best jazz albums ever.)

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Temple
A german u-boat and its cruel captain face terrors under the sea.

Farewell Gif of the Week:

Mine! Minemineminemineminemine...