It's always scary when somebody else picks the topic you're blogging about. What if you have nothing whatsoever to say?
For example, the local university's homecoming game was last night. The whole town was abuzz and agog. (Don't you love those two words?) I, however, was happy to locate a party at a house where no TV exists. People were checking their cell phones for the scores, but we were in an essentially sports-free zone, and I was blissfully happy. If The LadyKillers ever chooses "Sports" for a topic, I'll have to resign my commission for that week, because I'll have nothing intelligent to say.
But music...wow. I've taken about 90,000 piano lessons in my day. In school, I was in the band from fifth grade onward. I've sung in church choirs and a Dixieland band and acoustic bands and a rock band. I've directed children's choirs and high school choirs. I play violin and electric bass badly. One day, my guitar playing will rise to the level of "bad."
The most visible sign of my love of music is my 7-plus-foot monster of a piano, a Yamaha C7. I intend to own this piano until I die. Here's its picture:
For me, making music is making sanity. When thoughts or emotions tangle my brain, an hour at the piano will unravel them.
To tie this subject to our blog topic, mystery writing, I'll say that I write in utter silence. This may sound strange for a lifelong musician, but I find that music interferes with my writing process. I hear the words and sentences in my head before I type them, and they have their own melody and rhythm. Music coming from outside my head interferes with those words and sentences.
For one project, however, music and mystery writing worked together very well, an anthology called A MERRY BAND OF MURDERERS. For this book, each of a group of mystery writers, including Val McDermid, Jeffery Deaver, Rupert Holmes, and me, wrote a story and a song. The songs and stories were released in a book/CD combination, and it was one of my favorite writing projects ever. It actually gave me an excuse to go into a professional recording studio and exercise my inner musical control freak. The resulting song is here.
Music has only played a peripheral role in my Faye Longchamp mysteries, but there was a moment when I was writing the closing chapters of FLOODGATES when I realized that I had set up the best possible use for song lyrics. The lyrics to "Basin Street Blues" tied in to the exact location of the climactic scenes, they alluded to the racial conflicts that impact my biracial character, and they echoed the emotional pace of the action. Several letters and fifty bucks later, I had permission to use those lyrics, which I'd sung many, many times as a Dixieland jazz singer. Weaving them into my story was one of the most fun things I've ever done as a writer.