Inspiration Through Music: VAST

Contrary to popular belief, I am not a lazy butt. Yes, I was supposed to have Inspiration Through Music up on Monday evening for you. The truth of the matter was that this weekend was the release of my second book. So, in short, it was crazy. I spent the weekend marketing and that always takes a bit out of me. So, I apologize that this wasn’t up on time for you all.

Horror fiction is not just about scaring the reader. The reader needs to believe that they are the character. They need to identify with them based on more emotions than just fear. Finding ways to make these characters seem more human in the wake of disaster can be hard work, too. Often, I see characters responding to situations as if they’ve had an inner ninja locked away inside and now its busting out. Haven’t you always wondered why these seemingly normal characters suddenly are able to handle multiple kinds of guns and practice karate… whilst never being alluded to doing so before? I can’t stand reading stories where there’s no explanation. These characters, most of them, are just like you and I, being thrown into a situation that sometimes defies explanation. Have them do something human! When I need inspiration in that field, I resort to a little band known as VAST.

VAST is an American industrial rock band that started in 1998. The groups lead singer is Jon Crosby, someone with a voice that really gets into your head with the raw emotion that it carries. I discovered VAST when I started watching the television show, Angel. Yes. Angel was the spin-off of Joss Whedon’s mega-popular Buffy The Vampire Slayer series. And yes, I am a HUGE fan of both. What got me about Angel was that the stories were much darker and we were dealing with predominantly adult characters versus teens. Some of the plot lines were more serious and some of the situations also seemed more adult. VAST to me, is also more of a serious band with many more adult themes riddled through their six studio albums. Today, I’ll be sharing six of their songs with you and what I see when I listen to them.

Touched: He looks around. They’ve surrounded him on all sides. He’s trapped. He stares into the mist in the distance, watching their bodies materialize from it. He’s come all this way and for what? To be stopped by a few monsters? No. He throws himself toward the nearest one, his elbow up and connecting with its face. It falls backward onto the ground opening up a hole in the slowly enclosing crowd. He runs through it, kicking anothers legs out from under it. The mist and the trees are his escape now. He runs, all of the energy spiking in his throat. He sees the bodies rise up from the ground next to felled trees and large rocks. He needs to keep going. He needs to survive for her. (This is, in my opinion, quintessential action music. I listened to this while working on scenes for my 4th book in The Monstrum Chronicles series.)

Flames: In a dreamscape, they finally see one another again. Here among pools of black water and reflections of stars, they can finally be together. Here they don’t have to worry about death being around every corner. Even for just a few moments, they find themselves wrapped up in one another. Both of them have missed this. Taking every day to try and survive has strained themselves. As they hold one another, they realize that it seems to have been so long since they’ve touched another person. And if they have, its only been in violence, only to survive. They’ve almost forgotten that there could be a kind touch. They can’t let the waking world worry them for the moment. All they have are these few precious minutes to pretend that things are the way they used to be. These minutes mean everything. (This is one of my favorite pieces from VAST. It highlights romance amidst a dark time, characters who truly care for one another and who will do what it takes to make sure their love survives even as the world falls apart.)

Lost: She knows she has no other choice. She has to keep going. All that she’s ever known has been over run. The only way out of this is to follow this stranger, someone she thought she knew once but now… she can’t trust him. The world opens itself up to her in ways she can hardly fathom. As she drives, she glances at the scenery outside her window. Abandoned cars highlighted by the early morning sun burning up on the horizon, scorched buildings with black smoke billowing from them, and above all, that most perfect and eerie silence that tells her no one else is around for miles. A comforting and yet chilling noise. If that’s the case, then why was she left behind? (Another piece that I’ve listened to on multiple projects. I’ve recently “rediscovered” this one as I’ve been working on my apocalyptic novel and find that it fits well with the main character’s state of mind.)

Take Me With You: There he is, her old friend, someone she thought she’d never see again. He’s not flashing that grin that she was so used to seeing. Instead, his eyes are serious and his hand is outstretched toward hers. “Come on,” he says, his voice low. “Come with me.” She just stares at it. At any other time, if she really knew he could be there, then there would have been no question. She’d have taken his hand and gone with him, let him save her. But he’s not here. He can’t be. He’s dead. And this can only be a figment of her imagination, the last remnants of a pleasant memory. However, something makes her hand lift and take his, feeling the warmth of his skin again, the smell of his cologne. She throws herself into his arms, feeling him wrap around her like a blanket of strength. She’s lost her mind, she’s decided. She’s going with a ghost. (This is a segment from my upcoming apocalyptic novel.)

I Woke Up L.A.: It’s been many years since he’s set foot in this city, L.A. with all of its bustle, it’s sparkling city lights, and never-ending energy. If only he was back here for a vacation. But this was business. There was an answer here that could save the world, an answer that he is so close to discovering. Part of him, though, is resistant to actually finding out. This mess involves him in some way. He worries that when he finds the answers he’s been seeking, the ones he’s spent his entire life looking for, they won’t be the ones he’s expected. He walks the streets in the nighttime, noticing everything that’s changed. This used to be his town. Now… its theirs.

Thrown Away: He’s seen these monsters before, battled with them countless times. Now, he finds himself in a pit of fear, a place where the walls are too high to climb out. All he can do is turn and run, his brain telling him flight will be better than fight. He needs to stay alive. He needs to find some kind of weapon. But even as he runs, he knows he won’t get far. He can hear it getting closer, its scratching and wheezing breaths growing closer. What has he gotten himself into? Why didn’t he just get out of the city when he could? Why didn’t he leave it all behind. The answer kicks him because its all too simple. He couldn’t leave. Things were unresolved. He had to stay behind. He had to help clean up the mess. The monsters are just a part of that. Clean up the monsters, and clean up your mess. He notices the handle to a metal baseball bat sticking up out of a dumpster. As he snags it, he turns, ready to take on the creature chasing him.

Next week on Inspiration Through Music, we’ll be dropping into the soundtrack from the acclaimed video game, Dead Island. Stay tuned!



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