Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Books and Music in Socialite series

Hi everyone.  Readers of my books have probably noticed that I reference a variety of literary and musical genres in the text.  I have many reasons for doing this, but mostly it's because I love finding these gems in the books that I read.  When I find one I will research it to learn more about how it adds to the themes developed in the story.   Some of the references that I use are overt.  For example, the second seduction tool that Elle uses on Jacob, in Book 1, is poetry: she recites one of my favourite poems by E. E. Cummings - "i carry your heart with me".   Other references are more personal and obscure.  For example, after Elle uses her first seduction tool, sympathy, on Jacob, by wiping  the blood from his face, Jacob walks back to school thinking about a lyric from a Vancouver folk song.  That song is a lesser known piece by the Vancouver rock group PRISM, better known for their hit "Spaceship Superstar."

Throughout the series I have carefully placed these references so that they seamlessly integrate with the story, are consistent with the personalities of the character that uses them, and so they will meaningfully contribute to the major themes being developed.  Some of the references are broader reaching than others, of course.  I won't give it away, but there is one major classical piece of fiction that is referenced over and over.  In fact, in the story, that book is the reason that Elle's ancestors decided to begin the preparations for her mission.

Many of the references are also an homage to some of my favourite authors and musicians.  Hemingway, Shakespeare (I hope readers enjoy the comedy skit written in iambic pentameter in Book 2) and many others are included in the author list.  Of course in Book 2, the Christmas Book, I had to include a reference to Charles Dickens.  In Book 1, Jacob compares the song he sings ("Wander Free" about his mother's separation anxiety, which always makes her cry when she hears it) to the Beatles.  He actually tells his audience that they shouldn't expect it to sound like the Beatles - who could, after all?  The Beatles are one of my all time favourites, so I had to reference them again in Book 4 when the teens discuss John Lennon's philosophy and his relationship with Yoko.

Philosophical references used in the books are less easy to tie down to an individual source.  Most of the evolutionary theory that is discussed is consistent with Darwin, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett - authors that I have read extensively during my graduate studies.  Readers may see some resemblance in the philosophy of the evangelist Benny to past and present evangelists, though Benny's ramblings are merely an amalgamation of the teachings of various religions and cults, and not meant to identify him with any specific group.  His true beliefs are meant to be obscure, right until the final chapter of Book 4 - which provides a useful point to develop in the next series Socialite 2, which I am currently working on.

Some of you may be surprised by the paucity of references to famous Science Fiction.  Part of this stemmed from my desire to have the scifi aspect of the novels emerge gradually for the reader, so the story seemed more realistic and plausible.  In book 4, I do give a shout out to Voltaire as the author of one of the first, if not the first, published scifi stories, Micromegas.

I look forward to hearing which authors and musicians that you came across in Socialite 1 count among your favourites.   Keep checking my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/socialitebooks) for updates and announcements related to the Socialite series.  And thanks for reading, sharing with your friends and reviewing the books!

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