Mood Setting Music

When I write I prefer to do so in silence. I’ve heard that a lot of authors like to listen to certain music when they’re writing but I can’t do it. It’s far to distracting. I don’t even listen to classical. I do love music and sometimes a certain song will ring true to a story I’m writing.

That was true at the time that I was writing “Soul Conquest The Ultimate Trial.” Two songs really seemed to fit the mood of the book. The first is from the group Creed, and the song is “One Last Breath.” The other song that fit my book was “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” by Green Day. I usually listen to the radio versions though, which takes out the cussing.

My general taste in music is top 40 songs that aren’t explicit or openly sexual in nature. Some of the groups I listen to are; One Republic, Imagine Dragons, and Coldplay. I also like most 80’s music. I like a lot of other music as well but don’t pay attention to the group or the song title.

If you’ve read my book check out the music and lyrics to both songs and tell me what you think. Also if you write, do you listen to music?

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Courtney

The last character I’ll discuss from Soul Conquest is Courtney. She was older when she was abducted and comes to the gym as terrified as the rest of the slaves had been, but her age and personality help her navigate her trial differently. She is sure of her faith. She doesn’t blame God for her circumstances but is able to continue to trust and believe in Him, which gives her peace and a different kind of strength.

She loves Devin and sees in him the desire to do what’s right. She values the depth of his ability to care for others. Their differences are what help them be the strength the other one needs. Devin comes to respect Courtney’s faith even as he struggles with his own. Courtney is likewise patient with Devin in his personal journey of belief. This is one of the reasons their love grows stronger over the years.

Courtney is determined to survive and Devin helps to give her those skills. There isn’t much written in the book about how Courtney deals with the repercussions of killing in the ring, so I’ll tell you here. She does have nightmares and is haunted by the images that she can’t erase from her mind, but unlike Devin she doesn’t internalize them the same way. She recognizes the right she has to survive, the right someone else has to refuse to kill and those that are really responsible for the wickedness of her dilemma.

Courtney is an optimist like Bailey was. She doesn’t have to work as hard to see the good amidst the bad. Devin needs to be surrounded by people like that. The weight he makes himself carry is a load impossible to bear on his own. If he were alone the weight would crush him. This is why Courtney had to be a part of the story. She was the only person that could save him from the blackness he had chosen to walk in. At the moment Courtney comes into the picture, Devin had lost his will to survive. His body may have still been alive but in every other way he was dying.

The only way to save Devin was through love, and Devin had shut everyone else out, ensuring his own demise. So in comes Courtney, the imperfect girl that held the key to reopen his heart.

Marcel, Bailey, & Ante

Marcel was not a part of my original daydream. I needed a character that would help Devin emotionally so that he could become the person I already knew him to be. Marcel could guide Devin from the start, and help him adjust to his new life. Marcel had an internal struggle of his own, which is only lightly hinted to in the book. Marcel shields Devin and the rest of the gladiators from his own pain so that he can help them with their own. It was Marcel who first suggested that Devin learn to master his emotions and control his tongue. Marcel taught Devin that the less his enemy knew him the better the advantage he would have. Let’s not forget that he gave Devin the opportunity to push himself intellectually.

Now let’s touch a little on Bailey. He becomes Devin’s best friend. As it gets close for Devin’s first real match they become brothers by blood. Bailey is an optimist so he can see beyond what’s happening now. He understands that he’s being forced to act, so he doesn’t internalize what he’s made to do. Instead Bailey pushes the guilt and horror to those that are responsible for it, whereas Devin always blames himself. Bailey however is not as gifted at fighting. Thus, Bailey with the other gladiators, look to Devin for protection from Ante. Due to the horrific circumstances that they are thrust into they become as close as any two brothers can be.

Ante is one of those characters that you just hate from the start. He and Marko are very similar. They refuse to allow anyone into their stone-cold heart. Ante is jealous of Devin from the start. On the streets in Bosnia he was a great fighter so getting knocked out right after Devin and he met was a crushing blow to his pride. As hard as Ante works, he never learns how Devin always has the advantage, which always keeps Ante a step behind. Ante has nothing but glory to fight for, whereas Devin has his friends. Devin keeps his mind active and alert, always pushing himself, like controlling his temper and his tongue. Without those advantages Ante continues to fall a step behind, which only causes his hate of Devin to grow.

Marko

Now lets talk about Marko. His passion and pleasure comes from ruling others. He loves money for the purpose of controlling and using people. On the streets of Bosnia, he used his muscle and quick wits to move up as the leader of his own gang. He cared for no one, only whether a man would swear loyalty to him, and be his to command. Men joined him because he offered safety, not because they liked him.

When people started betting on fights in the streets, Marko was the first to start making money. He was able to tell which man had the drive and skills to survive. He had his men capture rival gang members so that they could set up their own fights. His power on the streets grew, but Marko wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more. Then suddenly it was gone.

The fighting was taken from the streets, by the Bosnian mafia. There was so much war and chaos in the country that no one seemed to care about some illegal side sport. Marko was angry. Most of the fighters on the streets had been taken as gladiators for the game. Marko’s power was gone, well at least most of it. Marko hated the mafia for stealing it from him. When Stefan, a leader of the mafia, came to him and offered him the job of training gladiators he refused. He had no desire to work for them. Marko wouldn’t be controlled by anyone.

Then Stefan offered him something he couldn’t refuse. A chance for Marko to fulfill his dream and have his own gladiators. He had spent years planning and thinking about how he’d set it up. He dreamed of having unbeatable gladiators and knew exactly how he’d go about training them. Marko knew his dream would be fulfilled when he met a scrawny little scrapper named Devin.

That is just a glimpse into the antagonist Marko. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Devin Andrew Steele

In the coming weeks I will be finishing my 2nd book of the “Soul Conquest” Series, “The Refiners Fire.” At the same time I will be reworking “The Ultimate Trial” and releasing a 2nd edition. During this process I thought I would create some posts about these two books and my journey in creating them. So here goes.

Devin Andrew Steel is the main character in “Soul Conquest.” His journey onto paper was a rough one. He is, I guess, my guinea pig for character development. I had tried to write down my stories prior to “Soul Conquest” and, being an avid reader I recognized poor writing when I saw it. So consigning myself to the stark fact that I could not write, I stuck with daydreaming. At least, until, one day my husband asked what it was I daydreamed about. At the time of the question, the story I had banging around inside my brain was this very story. After some insistence on my husband’s part, I sat out on the frustrating but rewarding journey of extracting a character and plot from a brain that had no idea how to translate such a project.

So in comes Devin. In my dreams he never had a name, or a childhood. He appeared at the most exciting part of the story. He was who he was. My mind automatically knew how he would act under any circumstance. Sometimes when I was daydreaming he would respond or act a certain way and I would backtrack because it wasn’t true to his character. How my mind does that . . . I don’t know.

So in comes the tricky part. How do I get readers to know him the same way I do. First I needed to give him a name. Names are a big deal to me, so I found a name that felt right and then did some research. If I like the name but not the meaning than It’s a no go. So . . . I named him, now the harder task was giving him a past, a journey, really, into the hearts of the readers.

That is truly one of the hardest and most exciting parts, for me, in writing. Think for a minute, about how you would describe all the different complex parts of your personality to a stranger. Complicated, right? I’ve had discussions with my children about Devin that got pretty deep. There is so much more to him than what is written in my book. I keep my stories pretty simple, and that much information on Devin would turn my books into something that belongs in a psychologist’s office. Which means, each reader will add their own depth to Devin’s character. He will always be Devin in my mind but the exciting thing about the imagination is you can create right along with me.

I love learning about how other people see Devin and why. If you would like to share your favorite things about him or just have specific questions, please comment. I would love to hear and respond.