11 Strongest Influences On “The Songless”

The following will probably be boring.

Feel warned.

“Why are you telling us this, Kate?” you ask wearily.

Um. So you don’t charge at me with a pitchfork in the comments section? I just have a creeping feeling that this is not going to be my most riveting post, okay?

But I still want to write it, because… because this is my blog and I do what I want!

And also because… I’m a horrible author who actually enjoys giving things away and, I don’t know… perhaps some of my diehard fans will enjoy all the trivia about my firstborn child?

Oh, hush, I know I have diehard fans out there somewhere!

Maybe.

Ahem! Onwards!

I shall now proceed to list a tidy list of shows or movies or songs or other books that have contributed something to The Songless. And there will be lovely pictures. So maybe stick around for that, if nothing else?

 

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1. Prince Caspian: Runaway

I was just a kid when I began, so you must forgive me for my blatant plagiarism.

The Songless was essentially a genderswapped Prince Caspian when I first wrote it. Character names, for example, were Telmar-esque and Endelyn had a father who was similar to King Miraz in both appearance and attempting-to-kill-a-close-relative.

I am happy to say that The Songless does not resemble Prince Caspian in the slightest now! I do love the story of Caspian, though… It could use a few more retellings, methinks.

 

2. Wormwood: Fallen Angels

Wormwood is an extremely obscure book, so I don’t expect you to have read it. But it is also one of my favorites and shaped The Songless in some important ways.

One of the main characters is Tegatus, an angel who “fell in love with the wrong woman” and whose fate seems to be in a kind of limbo. Another angel, Abram, tells someone that he is a fallen angel – but what fascinates me is that Abram still actively works for the good side.

The Songless, and all of my other stories, center around a race of beings called Kwanza. Like angels, they are immortal and have certain superhuman abilities like healing or foresight or telepathy. Unlike angels, they live on earth in order to protect humanity and can both rebel against their Maker and be redeemed after doing so.

Like in Wormwood, even after having “fallen,” the Kwanza can still choose to serve their Creator.

 

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3. How To Train Your Dragon: Joka

Some of you know that, in its infancy, The Songless‘ basic plot was: Gril runs away from home. Girl gets stuck in trap. Dragon-riding dude saves her. They are both thrown in prison.

Anybody want to venture a guess as to where the dragon-riding dude came from?

Not that Makovu was much like Hiccup. On the contrary, Makovu was an adult man, tall and strong and mysterious and not much of a conversationalist.

The dragon, on the other hand…

I’m positive that my first description of it sounded something like this… “There was a small catlike dragon with wide adorable eyes like saucers. He was black, but had livid spots if you looked really close. He was playful and nice once you got to know him but was kind of hostile at first.”

There is still a dragon in The Songless, which pleases me muchly. His name is Joto la Joka and he is an infant. In dragon years, that is. In human years he is about a thousand. Or so.

I’ll admit… Joka strongly resembles Toothless, even now. But I’m hoping that since Joka is so tiny he can fit into the palm of your hand, my plagiarism won’t be too apparent?

4. Oliver Twist: Honor Among Thieves

After reading Oliver Twist, a band of thieves mysteriously appeared in my story. Complete with a teenage girl, her lover, and two mischievous imps.

Could I have been any more obvious?

Ugh. My younger self was so… uncreative.

Some vestiges of this influence still remain, however! The Nomads are still, at their core, the “thieves” and I still try to convey that in the midst of their cruel and proud ways, they value honor and loyalty and have a certain code of ethics even they do not dare to break.

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5. Hercules: Meg’s Deal With Hades

Ooh! This is a more recent influence.

Which means I must be quite secret. So I’ll just say that, yes, one of my characters – Endelyn, to be exact – did indeed sell her soul to Hades. Who happens to be the father of the man she is in love with.

Whew! Glad I didn’t give anything away!

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6. Brave: Mother-Daughter Friendship

Aww! I remember when my story was sweet and innocent and oddly Scottish…

This was back when Endelyn had met her biological mother but her father killed her. Or perhaps Endelyn herself murdered her mother? It was never quite clear to me whodunnit, to be honest. So it’s probably for the best that this plot was cast aside…

Anywho. In this draft, Endelyn had a mother. That’s the important thing!

They were close, like sisters and did everything together. Including horseback riding. Which isn’t reminiscent at all of a certain Disney film. Not at all.

But you will be happy to know that all signs of this influence have been eradicated! Ha!

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7. On Stranger Tides: Mermaid And Sailor Romance

I’m not even sure she is a mermaid? I’m just guessing because of the… towel.

In case you couldn’t tell, I have not seen this movie. But soundtracks are a thing… especially at my house. Daniel is kind of obsessed. By the way, the soundtrack is the most haunting, terrifying, and utterly beautiful I have ever heard, so if you ever get a chance, listen to it.

Anyway. I saw this picture and their frightened, “caught” expressions and suddenly… The Songless had a sequel! In this sequel, Endelyn’s son, Timothy, fell in love with a mermaid and turned her human. There was no plot? Unless you count sneaking a towel-clad girl into your house a plot? Which… I don’t?

Needless to say, the sequel was scrapped.

But I am still as fascinated with mermaids as ever and will absolutely be writing about them someday.

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8. Game of Thrones: Despairing Eyes

Just… just look at their eyes for a moment.

Isn’t it heartbreaking? Not one of them has any hope. You can tell. Just by the eyes.

And, no, I have never watched this show. But a picture like this one was inside the booklet that comes with the soundtrack – please say you know what I’m talking about – and their eyes were so… powerful.

I see greed and anger and hurt and fear and danger and evil and ambition. And hopelessness. Despair. Submission. Apathy.

This… this is exactly what Endelyn looked like as a child. What everyone looked like who lived in the Empire.

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9. The Walking Dead: Aesthetic

My older brother watches this show.

I do not.

Just so you know.

My stomach for violence is… small.

But my big brother is a fan and I remember one day he was describing this scene… and it just came to life in my mind. He said that the group – almost like a pack of hunters – were living in a desertlike wilderness and each night would form a circle around the campfire and that one of the girls would sing.

I still have this scene in The Songless. It was too important to leave out.

The similarities to The Walking Dead are prominent and striking and not unintentional. You might say the later drafts were inspired by or based off of this show.

My characters live in the desert, living as fugitives from the insane Wale Giza and from the fact they are all on the verge of insanity themselves. They have a pledge that if anyone in their “pack” starts to… turn, they will kill them before the disease takes over their mind. One of my characters, Wimbo Nzuri, is based off of the girl who sang.

I have no idea if I’m even imagining this show right, but I like to think that The Walking Dead is a kind of aesthetic for The Songless.

10. Closer: Alcoholism 

Well, whaddya know about that?

One lonely song has made its way onto this list. Which is odd, actually, because two of my other novels are inspired almost entirely by an album or an artist, so music does have an impact on my writing. I’m not a completely uncultured swine, I will have you know.

Though… you may doubt this fact because Closer by Halsey isn’t exactly the most classy selection? And I’m sorry about that. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of mainstream pop, but the sass levels in this song and the raw regret… well, I love this song.

You might consider Closer Makovu’s… anthem. This song kind of sums him up perfectly. One line leapt out at me… “I drink too much and that’s an issue, okay.” 

Profound, right?

Now I can hear you snickering at me because it isn’t profound at all, but it inspired me. Alcoholism doesn’t get much press, I don’t pretend to know why. But when I heard it, I just knew – drinking was Makovu’s big struggle. His demon to conquer.

11. Forbidden: Darkening

I love Ted Dekker! Most of the time, that is… He can be a brilliant genius and a total creeper, alternately, and his books are not for the faint of heart, but I got hooked at age nine and faithfully read every book he writes even now.

Forbidden is one of his more recent books, and the premise is quite fascinating… But I won’t bore you with the details. In this book, a certain group of rather intimidating people have black blood and pale skin so that you can see all the veins in their necks and arms and their eyes are all pupil, all black. It’s scary.

I may have stolen this.

All the rest of the characters are in various stages of… darkness. Some are “dead” and others “awakened.” A third group is kind of “twice-awakened.”

I may have stolen this also.

Oops?

My setting is entirely different so I don’t think Ted will mind much when he finds out?

Thus concludes my list!

Were you totally bored out of your mind? Who else loves the song Closer? If your novel was a TV show, which one would it be? Are there any Dekker fans in the audience? What are some things that have influenced your writings? Do you ever get inspired by a single song or lyric? Weren’t the picture lovely?

The Big Reveal: Metal Hands, Metal Soul

I suppose I should start off by apologizing for the unintentional hiatus I took this month?

Ahem, well, yes. About that.

Firstly, I have Excuses. Obviously this thrills your little soul to the snapping point. Alas, I have been fighting a losing war with my health and my role in a musical production of Beauty and the Beast is eating up my weekends – time formerly spent nurturing my firstborn child, Story And Dark Chocolate.

Secondly, I must admit that I don’t know when my posting schedule will get back to normal – normal being something like two posts every week? Play practices will continue to take up my free time until June… and I had been planning to tell you guys that as a General Rule I hiatus during the summer when I have no schedule and can’t be expected to use precious brain capacity trying to stick to one.

So. This is awkward.

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We’ll just… see what happens, okay? I maketh no promises.

And now that I have gotten the preliminary excuse-making and apologizing out of the way…

I’m writing a new story, guys.

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Are you excited? I’m excited.

In the beginning, it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling… which is ironic, because I had no idea that I would be participating in a musical of that story and was also relatively unaware of the existence of the live-action film coming out in March. And, not that this has anything to do with anything, but now that I am in the musical, I am going insane with excitement for the movie! I will probably die from the strain before the 17th rolls around, but whatever. Unimportant details.

Where was I?

Ah, yes.

It was a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Sort of. Now, to give you a bit of background, I don’t love this story.

Not that there is anything wrong with it… it was simply never a favorite. In fact – and prepare yourself for something dreadful – I have never, to this day, seen the Disney’s iconic animated version. Stop glaring. I had a weird childhood, okay?

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As far as fairytales go, I was always more attracted to the ones with a bit more potential. Rapunzel and the Little Mermaid and Jasmine and Mulan. Shut up, I know she’s not a Disney Princess.

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Sleeping Beauty and Belle and Cinderella… well, they were boring to me. Sweet and good and utterly unrelatable. Obviously you are welcome to disagree, as I know some of you adored these classic characters. I just… didn’t.

So you’re probably scratching your head – and I must recommend quitting, because it’s a gross habit – at this point, wondering why I would choose a fairytale I don’t even like to write a retelling of. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me either, to be honest.

My only real reason is that I feel the story needs “fixing.”

The Beast, for example. What is he, exactly? It is never made clear, but Disney’s version painted him as a kind of lion-bear-sabre-toothed-tiger hybrid with ram’s horns. Disturbing, honestly. And, forgive me for being dark, but I always wondered just what we were encouraging? Belle doesn’t fall in love with the Beast knowing that he will turn into a man. She falls in love with a beast… with an animal.

And this is, apparently, considered okay, normal behavior?

Yeah. Actually no. Not where I come from, sister.

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Another thing that bothered me hugely was that he transforms into a human as soon as Belle falls in love with him. This isn’t fair. This isn’t how things work. 

Ugly people don’t get magically hot, okay? They have to come to terms with the face they see in the mirror every day and learn – slowly, painfully – that the right people love them not because of how they look but because of who they are.

Wow, that just got intense.

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It’s just not right, okay? It’s not.

Besides, how would you like it if you fell in love with one dude and then got cheated out of him because he turned into somebody else? You wouldn’t like it. Belle fell in love with an ugly guy, ugliness and all. Change the ugliness, change the whole person and end up with one sad Belle.

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Therefore. I set out to fix these glaring mistakes. Enter a disfigured man with claws instead of fingers and a French teenager with attitude, a cursing problem, sociopathy, and short blond curls.

Because we are crushing stereotypes over here, alright?

And then… the story took on a personality of it’s own – I’m still not sure whether or not to be happy about this – and things evolved from there. It’s looking a lot less like Beauty and the Beast now…

Instead of being set in 19th Century London as originally planned, my story decided it was a fantasy of the same breed as The Songless. Rest assured, the world will be 19th Century Londonesque in the extreme. It’s just set a couple thousand years in the future instead of being historical fiction. No big deal or anything.

Tessa Emily Hall wrote an awesome post on Go Teen Writers about “the story of your heart.” This post inspired me to write what I love instead of vainly struggling to force this story to be something it clearly did not want to be.

As in The Songless, my story’s primary focus is the angelic beings who populate future-Earth.

Langdon is my “beast.” His parents altered him so that he could protect himself in a world that was becoming increasingly hostile to his race – they replaced his fingers with seven-inch steel claws.

Isabella was also altered, but in a far more invasive way. Her soul was removed, leaving behind a robotic, hollow shell of a teenage girl who only knows how to follow orders. And cannot read the books she used to love. However. Perhaps her surgeons did not do as perfect of a job as they first presumed. Isabella likes food, Isabella is lefthanded, Isabella has a sense of curiosity – all things that should not be true.

I’m calling it Metal Hands, Metal Soul. Because Anna said that sounded better than Hollow Steel, the alternate option. I was planning on calling it Mechanical Heart because of it’s anthem, Shatter Me by Lindsey Stirling, but then I realized that monkeyeverything was using the same title for her serial story and I didn’t want to steal because stealing isn’t nice, kids. Learn from me.

So. In an effort to help you get to know my precious children, I am going to answer a series of questions Cait and Sky posted on their blogs for that purpose.

Shall we?

How and why did they meet?

Well, this one’s easy. Isabella is being used as a weapon against her own race. Since she has no emotions, she is uniquely suited to her job – annihilating all the others like her.

Langdon is simply one on a rather long list.

What were their first impressions of each other?

Langdon immediately noticed that something was off about Isabella.

Isabella, on the other hand, cannot form impressions of people.

So.

How would they prove their love for each other?

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That escalated quickly.

Ahem.

Who said anything about love? I mean, in just the last question I explained how the whole relationship is founded on Isabella’s mission to eliminate Langdon. As in, kill him?

Okay, fine. Isabella stays with Langdon when he has a seizure and subsequently, uh, does not murder him. Langdon breaks his promise never to hurt anyone again and kills an operative sent to kill Isabella.

What would be an ideal date?

Something involving food, undoubtedly. That was one of the ways in which this story surprised me. There is a truly shocking amount of food in it.

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This has nothing to do with the fact that I was unable to eat solid foods when I was brainstorming it.

Is there something they emphatically disagree on?

Perhaps the fact that Isabella wants to kill Langdon? Maybe?

List 5 “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)

My characters are, alas, not this well-developed as yet. The only food quirk I’m aware of is, well, that they love food. Especially cake…

What’s one thing they know about each other that no one else does?

The questions are getting deeper…

Isabella knows everything there is to know about Langdon because she read his file. But I suppose those are only the things that can be evaluated or measured…

Well, he tells her about his promise not to hurt anyone ever again. And Langdon is the one who discovers that Isabella’s surgery wasn’t entirely successful.

What’s one thing that they keep a secret from each other?

Langdon won’t tell Isabella what happened that made him so terrified of hurting people. Isabella’s altered mind doesn’t understand the concept of secrets, so she is completely open about her past.

How would their lives be different without each other?

Well, Langdon would be dead, so his life would, quite literally, not be. Isabella would have been killed as soon as she outlived her usefulness and she may never have discovered the remnants of her personality.

How touching.

Where do they each see this relationship going?

They want to survive. There is no relationship, to be honest. Langdon is in his thirties and Isabella is a young teenager. And I doubt either of them will make it out of the book alive, so it doesn’t especially matter.

I find myself in a quandary, though, and thought perhaps you could help me. Now that I am more familiar with the story of Beauty and the Beast, I have thought of several retellings that I think would be fantastic.

Like… what if the story was told from the perspective of one of the girls in Gaston’s entourage?

Or what if Gaston really did love Belle, but she just hated him for some reason?

Or what if Belle rejected Gaston because she was in love with LeFou?

And, lastly, am I the only who has thought of the fact that the Beast has clearly gone through this whole abduct-a-random-village-girl routine before? What are the implications of this? A story about one of the “failed Belle’s”…

Let us commence to shriek together!

What are your thoughts on my new novel? Do you like it? Hate it? How do you feel about retellings? Yes or no? On a scale of one to ten, how excited are you for the live-action version coming out? Have you seen the Disney animated version? Do you love it? Did you grow up watching the Disney Princess movies? Which Disney Princess is your favorite? Which of my newest ideas piques your interest the most – Failed Belle, Belle And LeFou, Gaston’s Girl, or Nice Gaston?