Hello dear readers! Today I am welcoming Cat Gardiner, author of the newly released Denial of Conscience, to Austenesque Reviews! Cat has penned an extra-special post to share how music and song lyrics inspire her! I hope you greatly enjoy Cat’s post and share with us any music that inspires you!
by Cat Gardiner
Once Upon a Time … in 1965, a mother sat with her two small children in a theater in the Bronx, New York City, after having walked a mile to view a new movie release. Pregnant with her third bambino, her unborn baby most likely kicked and danced when Julie Andrews sung “My Favorite Things.” Yup, I’m positive of it, because I was that bambina and for 50 years, The Sound of Music has been MY movie, its soundtrack committed to my soul. Because of its music, it is the movie I turn to whenever I need a lift up or just to get a pat on the back, singing “I Have Confidence.”
Yes, I’ve outted myself… I will be 50 in September, and music has always been the driving force behind my muse. Mom once said it was because she’d placed my high chair beside the radio to keep me company. I can’t sing. I can’t play an instrument, and like Elizabeth Bennet in Denial of Conscience, I have two left feet, but I love melody and lyrics. Perhaps that’s the word girl in me. I am fascinated by evocative lyrics that paint such imagery as from Bruce Springsteen’s storytelling “Thunder Road.”
The screen door slams
Mary’s dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Can you see it? Can you imagine The Boss’s gravely voice and our heroine swaying to Roy Orbison on the radio?
There is song in everyone’s narrative. It adds to our life story. Heck, in many cases – it is the story! No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’ll remember things such as that miserably sad song on a car radio after you broke up with a boyfriend. You know the ones – they sing of heartbreak, cheating fools and, no doubt, a dead dog or a broken tractor. Maybe you have a fond recollection of a happy tune that had you spontaneously dancing and singing, holding a hairbrush as if a microphone. I have tons of those “song moments,” but it’s always the poetic lyrics of a ballad that do it for me. Those brilliant writers, who capture the essence of emotion with just a few sentences, are my idols. Oh, if only I could use the same brevity in my novels!
About ten years ago, the muse-ical first struck, opening my eyes about telling a story using song to paint a romance. The particular love story is that of my parents’. In celebration of their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary, I found this little piece of paper tucked among my mother’s belongings. (Note the faint lipstick kiss.) It was a long-forgotten memento that her sweetheart had sent to her from a foxhole in the Korean War. *Gasp* Forgotten you say? You betcha. Music may have been one of the cupids in my parents’ romance, but although these songs have now faded away from the Billboard charts, they still reside in their soul. This tiny, worn note, written in a strong hand by a man in the heat of war ended up in my coveting hands, cherished and laminated for posterity. I created a CD of the music in their honor. One day their love story will become a novel penned using these songs as the symphony behind a romance that began when mom was just five and dad, living across the street, was the tender age of nine. It seems appropriate to mention that on Aug. 28, they will be celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary.
When I began writing my first JAFF—which still hides on my hard drive―one song started it all: “Brighter than the Sun” by Colbie Callait. My latest WWII JAFF, My Dearest Darling, was inspired by “Again” by Doris Day. Forty-three angst-filled chapters evolved from only one scene written solely from the inspiration of that compelling song.
Many who have read my two WWII JAFFs know that I have a thing for 1940s music, whether it big band or ballads, I’m all over it, dissecting lyrics and, as though a bobbysoxer, swooning from vocalists like “The Voice” Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and “G.I Jo” Jo Stafford. The words from these singers and standards embody the era: simple and pure romance during a time of worldwide upheaval. That decade of music had some of the most emotional, evocative words I have ever heard. It was a time when most men were gentlemen and not afraid to express in letters what was in their heart as they longed for their sweethearts and all that was good and pure in the world: home and love. As if a love letter sent from German-occupied Italy, take these lyrics from Mario Lanza’s “Because You’re Mine”
And when we kiss
That isn’t thunder, dear
It’s only my poor heart you hear and it’s applause
Because you’re mine
Because you’re mine
The brightest star I see
Looks down, my love and envies me
Because you’re mine, because you’re mine
Goodness, you could write a deep love story around those words!
Many of my JAFF friends have read Lucky 13 and, hopefully, enjoyed the soundtrack, which was an integral part of Elizabeth and Darcy’s romance. I still listen to it and dance, remembering Darcy’s calendar audition to Elvis’s “A Little Less Conversation.” Now, we have the recently published, modern Denial of Conscience where the soundtrack harmonizes the progression of Darcy and Elizabeth’s burgeoning and hard-won love affair. Enhanced by rock, opera, country, pop, and classical, the reader is brought on a journey of emotions completed by lyric and melody.
Our couple shares something in common, and although Darcy is all leather, Harley Davidson, and rock-n-roll, he grew up on opera. He immediately recognizes a duet that would forever hold meaning in his heart: “The Flower Duet” from Elizabeth’s favorite, Lakme.
Excerpt from Chapter Three:
Faint operatic music came from the distance down the dirt road. A soprano duet grew louder, drowning out the song of the seven-year locust as the music neared Darcy’s hide site. French lyrics sung of gathering flowers at the bank of a river, flowing and rippling under white jasmine.
Darcy knew that piece of music. He knew it well. In his other life, he grew up loving opera.
He waited patiently, hoping to see the vehicle through his riflescope and eyeball the driver when they turned onto the private dirt road. Within seconds, a beat-up, topless, old Jeep flew past him toward the house, traveling down the private road, kicking up a fog of dirt and rocks. The female driver’s long brown hair whipped around her head, taking flight as she listened to the “Flower Duet” from the opera Lakmé. Through the small aperture of his scope, as the driver’s mane blew from the force of the wind upon her face, Darcy instantly recalled the sketch of the horse he had stolen from the greenhouse. The image was imprinted in his mind. Henceforth, he knew that faceless, nameless woman would be called Lakmé whenever he referred to Operation Virginia Reel.
The last piece of music in this adventurous modern romance of resistance, attraction, and combustion reaches its zenith with the passionate delivery of Prince Calaf’s aria “Nessun Dorma” to Princess Turandot in Puccini’s Opera Turandot. It is Darcy’s favorite opera.
Prince Calaf calls her the Princess of Death, yet forcefully kisses her. Turandot begins to weep, for that was the first time she has ever been kissed. He then tells her his true name. With Calaf sitting on the throne, Turandot approaches and turns around to the crowd. She announces to them that she has learned the stranger’s (Calaf) name: It is “Love.” (Synopsis taken from AboutEntertainment.com)
Nobody shall sleep!
Nobody shall sleep!
Even you, o Princess,
in your cold room,
watch the stars,
that tremble with love and with hope.
But my secret is hidden within me,
my name no one shall know…
On your mouth, I will tell it when the light shines.
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!…
(No one will know his name and we must, alas, die.)
Vanish, o night!
Set, stars! Set, stars!
At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!
Does song inspire you? Do you hear a melody and allow it to take you someplace special? Are there words that have stayed with you with the same resonance as Mr. Darcy’s proposal?: “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. …” Or is it just something simple, yet equally powerful as from Queen’s “Breakthru” Your smile, speaks books to me.
Thank you, Cat! I love that you came to my blog and talked about music! I find it very inspiring! 😉 I love that you feel a special connection to The Sound of Music as it is the musical closest to my heart! If I had name one piece of music I feel most inspired by (and naming just one is NOT easy!) I’d have to say the Allegretto from Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. It speaks to me and I just feel when I listen to it.
Connect with Cat
Today Cat comes with some lovely little gifties to share with some lucky readers! Her first prize is a paperback of Denial of Conscience with its specially made accompanying soundtrack (open to residents in the US). Her second prize is ONE ebook copy of Denial of Conscience (open to residents worldwide)!
To enter this giveaway leave a comment, question, or some love for Cat below!
- This giveaway is open worldwide (ebook only). Thank you, Cat!
- This giveaway ends August 19th