Guest Post & ARC Giveaway: Author Jeramey Kraatz

Villains-RisingI need silence when I write—I’m too easily distracted to have anything else going on when I’m really trying to concentrate. But, music does play an important role in the writing process for me. When I’m brainstorming while out driving or walking (or, more often, pacing around indoors), I’ve always got something blaring. Music gets me amped up. Or in the mood. Or just inspired to create something.

I’m currently in the middle of a trilogy called The Cloak Society—books about a twelve-year-old with telekinetic powers born into a family of supervillains. I’ve got playlists for each book, full of songs that remind me of characters or events or a chapter’s tone, or just tracks that I spent a lot of time listening to while working on the books. Here’s an exclusive look at the official playlist for the second book in the series, VILLAINS RISING.

Without spoiling the first book in the series, it’s safe to say that Villains Rising deals with young supervillains and superheroes trying to figure out their places in the world and who their allies actually are. There’s a lot of room for loneliness and questioning oneself, wondering if you’re the crazy one or if it’s the rest of the world that’s insane. It’s probably pretty easy to see how that’s reflected in a lot of the tracks above. It’s a pretty long playlist, so instead of going song by song, here are some of the highlights for me.

Lost In the Trees

I’m a sucker for orchestrated forces.

I listened to Lost In the Trees’ most recent album on near repeat when I first discovered them last year, so it was a chore to pick only two tracks to put on here. I chose “Garden” because it’s a great example of how unique their sound is—Brass! Strings! Accordions!—and lyrically it embodies a lot of the ideas that the book deals with. “Icy River” is just so haunted and lonely, and Alex is definitely a character who embodies these qualities at times in the book.

“Heavy Cross” – Gossip

“It’s a cruel, cruel world, to face on your own/A heavy cross to carry along”
Confession: until I looked up the lyrics just now, I thought the line was “A heavy cross to carry alone.” There goes a year of car singing down the drain. Still, this song reminds me of one of the core themes of the book: getting it done together versus going about things on your own. Plus, I have a lot of love for Beth Ditto’s voice in general. Clear and controlled one moment, a scream the next.

“Dancing On My Own” – Robyn

Look, I’d love to lie and say the reason I included this track is because it really ties in to the addition of new characters and the stress this puts on Alex’s relationships in the book, but I just really, really like Robyn.

“Song For The Warrior” – Swans

Man, the ending of this song is so great. “Use your sword/Use your voice/And Destroy/ And Destroy” will be stuck in your head for days. But it’s the very last, fragile line, half spoken and half sung—“Then begin again”—that always resonates with me. It’s something that everyone involved in arts or creating can probably relate to.

“Playground Love” – Air

This may seem like a strange track to include since this is middle grade and there’s not really a love story per se, but it just fits for me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been brainstorming and editing to Air’s music for a decade now (The Virgin Suicides score is my go-to background music). I think in terms of color splotches for a lot of music. It’s not something I can really articulate easily, but the color scheme for this song matches the one for Villains Rising. It makes me think of golds and browns and autumn and leaves and a somber dissonance, like something is not right with the picture.

5778695“Dance of the Knights” – Prokofiev

This is the only song that’s actually mentioned in the book. Why? For one, it fits the character listening to it: Gage is a super-smart kid with an ear for the classics. Also, I really like this piece—it’s both foreboding and fun at the same time. Also, also, the main character of the Cloak books is Alex Knight. And finally, part of the Cloak Society’s origin came from me asking the question “what if instead of the Montagues and Capulets you had the Avengers and the Masters of Evil.” This selection from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet is also known as “Montagues and Capulets.”

For more about my questionable taste in music, you can listen to the actual playlist (or, check out my playlist for the first book in the series over at my blog).

Jeramey Kraatz has wanted superpowers ever since he opened his first comic book as a kid. He’s a graduate of Texas Christian University and the MFA writing program at Columbia University, and is the author of The Cloak Society and it’s forthcoming sequel Villains Rising from HarperCollins. His work has been featured in places like Salon, Gizmodo, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Jeramey lives in Texas, where he works in the animation industry. You can find him at http://www.jerameykraatz.com, or on twitter @jerameykraatz.

Thanks to Jeramey for his post today. You can find out more about The Cloak Society series at his website, and you can find order links at HarperCollins. 

Time for the giveaway….(THE GIVEAWAY IS OVER)

Up for grabs is an ARC of Jeramey’s upcoming release, Villains Rising from HarperCollins.  Click here, or on the Rafflecopter logo, to enter. Good luck!