I know it might sound odd, but Eagles band member, vocalist, and songwriter, Glenn Frey influenced my novel, In the Shadow of the Dragon King.
I didn’t really notice it until I started going through my notes and saw all these references to Eagle songs. “Incorporate feeling here.” “Listen to I Can’t Tell You Why. Fill David’s gut with this raw emotion”
Frey wasn’t a magic man, a wizard. He didn’t own, fly around on, or, to my knowledge, even believe in dragons. He didn’t write fantasy stories or live in a hobbit house, so how could he possibly inspire me to write a YA fantasy book?
The answer is simple. He was an amazing storyteller, and his lyrics of love, heartache, life, touched me and my characters in more ways than I even imagined.
As I went through my notes on Dragon King, I was surprised to see all the references I’d made to Eagle songs. Trust me there were other artists referenced: Billy Joel, Pink Floyd. Aerosmith, but none as many times as the Eagles. And I found it equally weird and remarkable that the songs seemed to center predominately around two characters: my grand knight, Sir Trogsdill, and my very young, inexperienced protagonist, David. There are over 30 references to the Eagles/Glenn Frey songs in my notes. 30. That’s mind-boggling to me.
What were the songs that kept popping up?
- I Can’t Tell You Why
- New Kid in Town
- One of These Nights
- River of Dreams (lyrics start around 1:45 – referenced in notes for book 3)
And the references continue to show up in my 2nd and 3rd books in the trilogy. Phrases, words of wisdom, notes on how to incorporate the message into the book. Some explore feelings within a character. Take New Kid In Town for example. The whole beginning of this song is exactly how David feels when he is entrusted with his quest. Everyone is watching him and he can’t let anyone down, however, I didn’t write the novel around those lyrics. The lyrics simply ‘fit’.
Desperado is a song steeped in wisdom of the heart. I can so hear Sir Trogsdill giving similar words of advice to his squire, Eric, and to David. They are also words and emotions he wrestles with on his own as he battles his own demons. Again, no lyrics were used or re-worded. It’s more of a feeling. An interpretation.
Writers get their inspiration from a million different places. It just so happens that most of my inspiration comes from song lyrics, mainly because of the emotions they stir within me. If I want a character to feel a certain way, I delve into my memory banks and latch onto the song that makes me feel the way I want my character to feel. I note it in the margins, in comment boxes. That way, if I fall short in what I was trying to convey, I can listen to the music and then hone in on the emotion.
Still, it never ceases to amaze me how the music of one person, one band can touch your heart and soul. There have been many artists who have found that special place within me, some more than others. Glenn Frey’s passing didn’t devastate me, not like Elvis’ did, but I can assure you, his music will be missed just the same.
So, Glenn, if you can hear me, thank you for your songs, thank you for the inspiration.
And more than anything, may there always be a rainbow above you. Rest in peace.