By the time the new novel started to morph from a collection of rambling conversations between random people into an actual story, I knew two things for sure:
1) After the previous book, which covered more than twenty years, this new one would take place over a much shorter period of time—the first five months of 2019. I printed out a calendar, placed events from the book on exact days, and used dates for my chapter titles.
2) After struggling to finish fourteen songs for The Weight of Sound, this new book would have no original soundtrack.
Three years later, I am here to confess I was wrong on both counts.
It turns out that plotting a long novel in a compressed time frame is more complicated that spreading a plot out over several decades, so I needed that calendar to keep events straight; what I didn’t do was tie the book to a specific year. I hope there are writers out there addressing the chaos of this moment in time, but I didn’t want that chaos intruding into this novel, and didn’t want readers wondering where all the chaos had gone. (Subconfession: this desire sprang, initially, from a determination to not mention the current leader of the free world in the novel. Anywhere. Even once, even obliquely.)
And a soundtrack? At first I didn’t want to force the creation of one, just so I could make that my schtick, but as writing progressed one of the subplots gained importance. It involved another fictional rock band, and I wanted to hear those songs. Then I realized that one of the main characters tries to make sense of the world through music, and a song she writes becomes so important that it also needed to be heard.
Luckily, I have lots of adventurous friends who are up for challenges. The music for “All I Have (Long Is Samsara)” was written by Kim Ware, who also sings lead vocal. Jim Bryson plays keyboards and sings backing vocals, and Lee Wiggins plays drums, percussion, and bass, and mixed the whole damn thing. Once again, I could not have told you exactly what the song should sound like, but as soon as I heard Kim’s first snippet of music I knew that it was perfect. No video yet, but I was ready to get this out into the world.