Chapter 11 of Prophecies and Penalties, and a musical interlude

Not everything among the Children of the New Revelation is benign, and even benign things can sting, as Emily Fisher finds out in “Hazards,” chapter 11 of Prophecies and Penalties, my weekly serial about a murder investigation set in a Vermont religious commune.

We have plays with music, musicals, so why not books with music? In the old days, writers would sometimes quote song lyrics to set a mood, expecting the reader would know the tune and the song from which the lyrics came. I would have thought the logical progression would be books with music discs included. (I actually do have one.) But the more common practice these days seems to be for writers to give the reader a list of popular songs that are supposed to go with the book. The idea is that the reader will download the songs into an mp3 player, and listen to them while reading.

I’ve never seriously considered doing this myself. Like many people, I have less time and interest in following popular music as I get older. So if I were to construct such a list for my stories, it would be heavily weighted toward songs that are decades old. And I normally am happy to let my stories stand on their own.

However, every so often a particular episode or story reminds me of a song. This chapter of Prophecies and Penalties, particularly the opening section, is one such example. It evokes an old Paul Simon song, one from when he was just starting his solo career in 1972. It was a minor hit then, but I’m happy to see it listed among the “under-appreciated songs” of Simon’s career, and that it was even got recycled onto a movie soundtrack in 2006. Anyhow, here’s a link to the song, “Duncan.” Give it a play just before or after you read the chapter, and let me know what you think.

All female street preachers should look like Sister Sharon Falconer (played by Jean Simmons from the movie "Elmer Gantry")

All “young girl in the parking lot” preachers should look like Sister Sharon Falconer (played by Jean Simmons from the movie “Elmer Gantry”)


About Brian Bixby

I enjoy history because it helps me understand people. I'm writing fiction for much the same reason.
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5 Responses to Chapter 11 of Prophecies and Penalties, and a musical interlude

  1. L. Palmer says:

    I usually check out the VH1 top 20 every few months just to keep a pulse on current pop culture, even if it means listening to the first 10 seconds of a song and moving on with my life. It’s well worthwhile, because this is how I met The Civil Wars and Fitz and Tantrums – very different bands, but both great music.

  2. crimsonprose says:

    As you might guess after reading Neve, for me music does more supplement the words. In a movie, to just play a few bars adds greater depth to a scene. That’s what I was trying to do with Neve. I was disappointed that WP has no facility for this, you have to upload to YouTube then add in a link. But I didn’t want to lose the reader while they checked it out. I wanted it to play while the reader was reading. For example, had you checked out the music when Raesan puts Foo Fighter’s ‘Stranger Things Have Happened’ on Neve’s iTunes, you’d have realised this was a very poignant scene. He was saying more than simply sorry.

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