Monday, February 24, 2014

Pathways Of The Dead Tour: Guest Post & Giveaway!

Today I'm happy to host a stop for Pathways of the Dead Tour, organized by Dark World Books!
(Click on the banner above to see the schedule.)

(Among the Dead #2)

Matty doesn’t want to end the world. Unfortunately, she has no choice.
Through a series of harrowing events, Matty DiCamillo discovered that she is the heir to an ancient prophecy, destined to destroy her own reality to save countless others. Now she finds herself locked away and interrogated by beings known as the Aetelia, who are out to force the apocalypse to their liking. After a breathless escape and an attack by the band of rebel Aetelia known as the Watchers, Matty must not only cross worlds but time itself to elude capture and face her destiny on her own terms. Aided by her lover Kristy; Tommy, a man trapped in a boy’s body; and an ageless woman named Omarosa; she must face death itself to reach the City of the Dead.

Add Pathways of the Dead to your Goodreads list!

*Check also "The Corridors of the Dead", the first instalment in the series*

(Among the Dead #1)

Long ago, a mysterious being known as The Lost Aetelia crafted an elaborate series of Watchtowers, along with their resident guardians, the Aetelia, to watch over the Universe. In time, they sent a select group of their own to Earth, tasked with watching over the fledging human race. This group used humanity to challenge the established structure of the Universe. A bitter war ensued, and these rebels, who had come to be known as Watchers, disappeared from history.
The time of the Aetelia – now known as angels – is returning. After a fateful night of violence, Artist Matty DiCamillo finds herself drawn into this world by a mysterious savior, who becomes a driving force in Matty’s new life.
Both driven by and fighting the words of prophecy that lay out her destiny, Matty, her lover Kristy, and her best friend Daniel, follow this mysterious savior on a journey from Northern California to Las Vegas on a path that crosses through the boundaries of time and space.
As Matty struggles to understand her destiny, she discovers that her savior may not be what she seems, and that even the denizens of this twilight world have no idea what lurks behind the stage dressing of reality. Matty finds herself not only racing to rescue the woman she loves, but learning that she herself could be the cause of the Universe’s day of reckoning.


Born and raised in the rural Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Jonathan wrote his first fantasy/sci-fi novel at the age of 13. After studying writing and communication at James Madison University, Jonathan turned his passion for writing into a full-time technical writing career in the DC Metro area, working for companies like Sprint/Nextel, Time Warner Cable, and Sirius XM Radio, where he had an opportunity to combine his love of music with his love of writing. He may have drifted away from fiction at times, but it was always his first love – and he always returned to it. Now living in Bethesda with his wife, two cats, and two quirky guinea pigs for which his publishing company is named, he crafts the kinds of stories that he had always hoped to read but just couldn’t quite find.

The "Music" of Pathways of the Dead

Hi there and thanks for joining me on the Pathways of the Dead virtual book tour. As always, I’m humbled at the chance to share with a new audience and thank our gracious host. Today I want to give you a glimpse behind the curtains of the creative process of the novel, along with an idea of the music that drives my creativity.

I’ll warn you up front, I’ve never really understood book trailers and turned my nose up at the idea of “unofficial” soundtracks to books, figuring that these were at best remnants of a writer’s desire to write a movie or TV show and at worst a complete misunderstanding of the medium. Misinformed opinion, I admit it, and have softened my stance accordingly.

I realized that music has been my constant writing companion since the beginning. While the artist or genre may not directly relate to the work, those songs did create a soundtrack to my stories. This connection grew stronger as I discovered that certain genres or sounds could better drive emotions or evoke imagery. One of my planned books, for instance, saw its genesis in the Shawn Colvin song “Sunny Came Home”, which seemed to directly implant images of a woman facing down her childhood oppressors. I learned that my biggest mistake with this  “soundtrack” business lay in the belief that an author intended the soundtrack to accompany the novel, rather than the creative process co-conspiring with the music. 

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about my silly notions but rather the music that inspired Pathways of the Dead. I have created a publicly shared playlist on my Spotify account for the specific purpose of sharing with folks who are interested, but be warned, the list is 33 songs of varying genres, so it’s not a quick or easy listen and not necessarily intended for a listen straight through. I won’t discuss the entire list today, as I could write a book about the whole thing, but I would like to highlight songs that provide thematic keys to the novel. 

Without further ado, ten choices:
  • Solaris by Bustan Abraham. The novel’s prologue takes us to the ancient Middle East, at the height of the Watcher Empire, where we see Grabbe, a supporting character, during a clandestine meeting with his secret lover in an open-air marketplace. The Middle-Eastern themes of this song put me in the middle of that market, walking alongside them as they obliviously walked toward a deadly trap.
  • The Passenger by Iggy Pop. Matty, the novel’s protagonist and a big punk fan, would approve of this choice. This song is designed to capture her feelings as the novel begins. She is held prisoner, kept at arms length from her destiny and detached from the world outside. I’ve always read the song as a treatise on alienation, with the songwriter watching the world go past behind glass. This very much describes early-novel Matty, a woman swept along by fate until she can take no more.
  • Warning Cry by Jacob Groth. From the original Girl Who Played With Fire soundtrack, this song is both a nod to Matty’s genesis in the character of Salander from that series and thematically follows along with Matty as she attempts a jailbreak. 
  • Our Town by Marc Canham. This one comes from the soundtrack to the video game “The Secret World” and is an homage to the creepy music of 70s horror movies. It’s one of my absolute favorite “mood” songs and while it doesn’t correlate to any one scene, it popped up over and over during the writing of this novel. Its growing sense of dread and menace strikes the right thematic chords.
  • Away by the Toadies. I confess that I’m not 100% certain about the song’s subject matter. It sounds like someone on a drug bender, but I have no confirmation of that. Doesn’t matter, though, as it radiates a tenser, rawer version of the menace in our town, from the opening notes with the wailing guitar to the deliberate, plodding bass. It propelled me during the scenes where the Watchers attack. 
  • Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order. Many songs on this list are synth-driven, with a heavy dose of lyrical enigma. Admittedly, that reflects my own musical preferences, but it also matches the novel’s overall theme. New Order’s classic (a band referenced in Corridors of the Dead) has, a times, the sounds of an old computer, echoing the novel’s themes of old/new technology. Its lyrics also provide an important clue to coming events in the series.
  • Red Right Hand by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Random bit of trivia, this song was one of the few uses of licensed music in the X-Files. For me it also works perfectly for Samyaza, the villain of the novel. Like the song’s character, Samyaza seems to come from nowhere, bringing with him an army of followers and a haughty, mysterious air.
  • Are ‘Friends’ Electric? by Gary Numan and Tubeway Army. Another synth-driven song, this one delivers the same alienation and isolation that I mentioned with the Passenger, but whereas the Passenger seems to detach by choice, the protagonist of this song feels like an alien among humans. I’d rather not say exactly which character this applies to, as he/she is a surprise toward the end of the novel, but the sensation applies to him/her. This song helped me get inside that character’s head.
  • Only by Nine Inch Nails. The third synth-driven song on this list, though it has the most conventional sound of the three with a steady disco beat accompanied by a fuzzy guitar. This song is, through-and-through, a description of the novel’s second major villain, Jazshael. Lyrics like “I’m becoming less defined as days go by/sometimes I think I can see right through myself” and the song’s overall pleasant descent into madness capture his (unstable) state of mind. 
  • Short Change Hero by The Heavy. A fantastically moody song that blends R&B with the sound of a spaghetti western. It made a great companion for the latter scenes in the novel, where just about everything goes wrong. Plus it’s badass.
The playlist features many other songs and artists in the mix, some of them brooding, others airy and light, but it captures the changing moods and tightening tension of the novel. I didn’t slave away on the list or initially intend it for public consumption, but  it provides some insight into the process of writing the novel and the moods that I needed to capture.

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