Name: RIO YOUERS
Author of: HALCYON (2018)
On the web: rioyouers.com
On Twitter: @Rio_Youers
There’s a time for peace and quiet—on those meandering countryside walks, for instance, at one with your thoughts as the sunlight creeps through the branches and the scent of pine sap fills the air. And first thing in the morning, when you’re waking to a fresh new day and your mind is reluctantly extracting itself from that sluggish yet wonderful dream state. At such moments the only sounds you want are birdsong and the faint creak of the earth’s rotation.
Sometimes—and The Tremeloes will back me up on this—silence really is golden. At other times, what you need—what you really need, my friend—is rock and roll.
Like when you’re driving down the highway, windows open, with “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses making the stereo bleed. Or when you’re getting ready for a night on the town, putting on your gladrags, getting your hair just right. And the stereo in your room (maybe it’s playing The Rolling Stones or The Foo Fighters or Post Malone) makes you feel damn near eternal. Don’t you just love when that happens? When the right song hits you at just the right time, it feels like walking on air.
What I’m getting at here (in my roundabout way) is how music, or silence, can resonate with you, and create an incredible energy. I find this happens when I’m writing. There are times when I need to escape all distractions, when silence is my best friend. And then there are times when only rock and roll will do. Because music can elevate me. It can push me forward. And when the song fits the scene, the words flow beautifully. It’s that walking on air feeling again—or writing on air, I suppose.
I reference music often in my writing, and have written three music-themed stories (Sister Free, Soulfinger, and Quoth the Rockstar), as well as a story for an upcoming anthology inspired by a line in a Frank Turner song (which I’m not allowed to talk about, so don’t tell anybody I told you). There’s a creative link between melody, rhythm, and prose. I love when the words make a drumbeat sound, or when a sentence is enriched with cadence. Prose is like music, in that it has the ability to reach people, and create incredible energy (providing the timing and rhythm is right, of course). I have a playlist for most of the stories I have written, filled with the music that helped give the story its flavor and character. These playlists vary from mostly classical compositions (The Ghost of Lillian Bliss) to surfy/hippie tunes (Westlake Soul). There are often songs that I would never listen to in my everyday life, but are right for the story, for helping me find the groove. And that, for me, is what it’s all about.
My new novel is called Halcyon. It’s about an island in the middle of Lake Ontario that offers a refuge for disillusioned and broken Americans, a place to escape from the violence, fear, and greed. It presents itself as a kind of utopia, but there’s more to the island than meets the eye—a dark and secret energy, and the novel’s protagonist, Martin Lovegrove, sets out to discover exactly what that darkness is. For a story like this, finding the groove was not just important, it was essential. Oftentimes I found it with silence. But sometimes I turned to rock and roll.
I put together a playlist as I worked on the novel, and have included a portion of it here. Some of these songs are mentioned in the book, and are integral to specific scenes. Others, quite simply, helped me find the right feeling, and lifted me when I needed lifting. The full playlist can be found on Spotify by searching for “The Halcyon Playlist.”
Good Morning Freedom – Blue Mink
The Dolphin’s Cry – Live
Ballrooms Of Mars – T. Rex
If You Leave Me Now – Chicago
Woman, Woman – AWOLNATION
Blackbird – The Beatles
Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
Feasting on the Flowers – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Would Halcyon have been the same novel without these songs driving it forward? Somehow, I don’t think so. They gave me a rhythm, and a cadence, that I brought to the characters, and to every scene. And yeah, I know it’s a pretty mellow soundtrack … but it’s still rock and roll to me.
And sometimes, my friend, that’s all you need.