The music I’ve been composing lately is … a little strange. It occurred to me that I might find great sources of inspiration in fantasy novels. There are some wonderful books out there! But I’ll save my summer reading list for another time.
After playing around a bit with the 13-note-per-octave microtonal scale, I went hunting for fantasy novels with the number 13 in the title — and by golly, I struck pay dirt. Recently published: 13 Treasures, 13 Secrets, and 13 Curses, a fantasy trilogy by Michelle Harrison. Coolness! These are YA (“young adult,” meaning the intended reader is probably 11 to 16 years old) stories. As such, they’re not necessarily books I would have sought out if I didn’t have an agenda. But 13 Treasures turns out to be charming and well-written.
Tanya has been bundled off to spend the summer with her grandmother in a large, isolated, and creepy mansion. There are no ghosts per se, so we can’t call it a haunted house. But all is not well. The house is lousy with fairies. No one but Tanya can see them. And these are not nice fairies. Some of them are merely mischievous, but others are actively malevolent.
I had read only a few pages when I decided to write some music about nasty fairies. The result: “The Lodgers in the Clock.” There’s a grandfather clock in the hall, you see, and fairies are living in it. They make sarcastic remarks when Tanya walks past the clock. Sometimes they come out and steal things.
There’s a lot more to the story than that; if you’re curious, you can pick up a copy for $6 on Amazon by downloading it to your Kindle (or to the free Kindle software reader in your laptop). Harrison’s vocabulary may be a bit expansive for 12-year-old readers … but she lives in England. Maybe young readers are better educated there than here.
What’s next? Who knows? Right now I’m reading Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay. I’m also wondering what kind of music Daleks would listen to. I mean, they must have headphones and iPods in there, right?