I have two addictions – books and music – and the two often intertwine in unexpected ways. Often the story is already in motion, the characters set, when a connection to a song occurs to me. Occasionally, though, the song pops into my head first, with a story to follow, unrelated to the song, but driven by it just the same. The latter is exactly what happened with one of my stories for Triptychs, the third book within the Mind’s Eyes Series.
This series is a collaboration between authors and photographers, in which each story is inspired by a unique photo. The photos are randomly distributed to the authors, with no details whatsoever. We then stare endlessly at the photo, pondering its very existence, until the image offers its secrets. (Well, at least that’s how it happens for me.) Sometimes the story forms almost immediately after I look at the image. Other times, I stare and stare and nothing happens. That’s when, however unintentionally, I leave space for all sorts of weirdness. You know that word association game, where I say a word, and you reply with the first word that pops into your head? Well, my mind seems to do a similar thing with photos, where I see an image, and, absent the immediate story idea, my mind instead offers me song lyrics.
I received this image, for Triptychs…
…and I thought, Nice photo. Sparkly and happy. I don’t write sparkly and happy. Now what? I probably would have cursed Helle Gade for taking such a pretty photo, but she’s simply too nice to curse. So I left it on my computer screen for days. Nothing happened. No story. No characters. Just silence.
Then, a few days into my standoff with this photo, my mind gave me this, “Fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me…”
And I thought, Umm, Ozzy?
What was I supposed to do with a Black Sabbath song and a sparkly photo? I ignored Ozzy’s voice in my head. He kept singing. The day went on. Finally, I gave in. I sat, and wrote:
The song sifted into my mind, nudging me awake. Ozzy’s unmistakable voice singing about fairies wearing boots. Black Sabbath used to be one of my favorite bands, though I haven’t listened to them in years. I didn’t even have the albums anymore. I’d tossed the vinyl long ago for the convenience of MP3s. So where the hell was the music coming from?
This wasn’t true for me. I still occasionally listen to the band, and I’d never toss my vinyl. In fact, Paranoid, the album this song appears on, was the first Black Sabbath album I bought, probably back around 1977. You’ll notice the tear on the bottom left, where our puppy chewed the album cover. He did that to several of my albums. And my shoes. I preferred when he chewed my shoes.
Anyway, back to the story. While that opening paragraph wasn’t my truth, it was the truth of that voice in my head telling me his story. I had no idea where the story was going, nor did I know the relevance of the song. So I listened to the voices, of both the character and Ozzy, and I followed. Later in the story:
Ozzy’s voice was pleading for me to believe him, fairies do wear boots, he saw them. The song, the boots. A memory tickling the back corner of my mind.
Eventually, the photo and the song gave up their secrets. I was surprised where they took me, and surprised that the photo brought me to that place.
If you’d like to read Fairies Wear Boots, along with the rest of the stories in a collection I’m proud to be part of, you can find it in Triptychs:
This book, and all the others in this series, are free to read if you have an Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited membership. If not, it’s also cheap, and full of great stories.
Thanks for reading. 🙂