Today’s guest post is such a fun one!
If you love music and love books, then know you’re in for a real treat. 😉 I recently had the privilege of reading an ARC of C.S. Johnson’s latest release One Flew Through the Dragon Heart and it was so much fun!
Not only was this book outside of her usual genre (I think…), but she did it so flawlessly.
If you’re curious about some of her inspiration concerning her writing in a new genre, then definitely keep reading!
About the Book
A Chinese Legend. A British Secret. Star-Crossed Lovers with Incompatible Magic.
Brixton Flew works as a professor of wielder instruction at Rembrandt Academy, hoping to erase the regrets of his youth along with the resulting debt. But when he comes face to face with his biggest regret—the woman who broke his heart, Adelaide Favan—Brixton soon realizes his troubles have only begun.
Unable to control her magic, Adelaide knew leaving Brixton was the only way to protect him when they were younger. Now she discovers he is the key to recovering the Dragon Eyes, a legendary treasure connected to her magic and her family’s disgraced legacy—and she knows the risk is great, to both his life and her heart.
With others seeking the power of the Dragon Eyes, Brixton and Adelaide must outwit their foes and face down their families to save London from an ancient legend that sleeps beneath the magic portal in their city.
But the renewed passion growing between them may prove to be the greater peril …
One Flew Through the Dragon Heart is the first book in a new steampunk series by C.S. Johnson, blending together history, romance, mecha-dragons and magic against the glittering backdrop of 1880’s Victorian London.
**This post was inspired by The Music of the Night, from The Phantom of the Opera, which is, ironically, not on the list.
One of the things that most people will tell you, when you set out to be an author, is that if you want to be successful, it’s important to be able to build a brand out of your work, to help with marketing shorthand and help people know what they can expect from you.
That usually means sticking to a particular genre, to a certain style, and to a familiar age range.
To say I am not one to follow the crowd is an understatement. I feel more like the Horse of Many Colors from The Wizard of Oz, where you’ll turn around and see I’m doing something different than before, and even though it’s colorful and magical, there is a moment where you have to pause and wonder what I am thinking.
(The Horse of Many Colors comparison is not accidental, either; I have been amused this weekend to find out, surprisingly, how often the rainbow motif comes up in my work.)
I’ve written fantasy superhero fiction, historical fantasy, alternative history, coming of age, fairy tales, science fantasy, science fiction, and romance – and now, with the release of One Flew Through the Dragon Heart, steampunk fantasy romance.
There’s no telling what’s on my mind sometimes; it’s just complicated, meaningful fun, with plenty of wisdom tucked in there for people who would seek it (though I usually give the game away with my author’s notes at the end of the books).
I’m a strange mix of things and dreams and influences, so I thought I would share some of my favorite songs on my playlist, adding a little as to why I like them. There are plenty of others, but if you like my playlist, I think you’ll like what you find in my work.
- The Stars Look Down – Rose Betts
I first saw this video as a recommendation from a favorite author of mine, who heard it from his son. When I watched it, I immediately had to watch “Anna Karenina” before I could let the song out of repeat mode.
I love the song’s changing dynamics—moving from acquaintances to lovers, to fighting wars and facing difficult choices. Such intense drama inside the 5 minutes of a song, all hinting at an unhappy, but still hopeful, ending. I like the combination, and Rose Betts does such a good job of conveying that range all within a sweet, flowing song.
- Miraculous Ladybug Theme Song – Lou & Lenni-Kim
I’m not a huge fan of fandoms … but I’m a big fan of Miraculous Ladybug. I started watching it off Netflix with my kids when they were both sick about a year ago. Since then, we have been mentally cursing at ZagToons for the delayed release of Seasons 2 and 3.
But I like the theme song here. It’s got both the female and male lead, trapped in a secret-identity-love-square, where each of their superhero and regular identities are in love with each other in more than one way. It speaks to the sadistically romance side of me, where I like to think you can be in love with someone, even recognize them, without actually seeing it.
- Rewrite the Stars — Zac Efron, Zendaya
The romance thing continues with the duo song of “Rewrite the Stars.” I love the angle of forbidden love that ultimately triumphs over the barriers between them, and I like that element of fate, too. The idea of fate, to me, is an interesting one. I believe in God, and it’s such a complicated, fun topic to draw on for inspiration when it comes to my characters and conflicts.
- True Colors (Trolls Version) — Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick
Again, this is one of those things that came around because of my kids – another reason they’ve made me a better person, even if I feel like a worse one. This song comes at the emotional climax of the movie, but that’s not the only reason I like it.
The reason I love this song so much is not only have I been there, where I am sad and depressed and it seems like there is nothing left to believe in, and all I’ve believed in up until this point has been for naught, but because it works on three different levels.
I could easily sing this song to my kids, my husband could sing it to me, and God could sing it to me. That dynamic between romantic-family-godly love is fascinatingly wonderful. I can read it differently according to my heart’s needs, and I love, if you can’t tell from all my genre-hopping, being able to switch perspectives for different reasons. Life is complicated, and there’s no point in pretending otherwise. Sometimes we need that switch.
- Never Saw Blue – Hayley Westenra
This song is actually the song that preluded my falling in love with my husband. I love it because, just like the previous song, it offers not only something of beauty – the idea of “blue,” everlasting despite the light and darkness – but it offers a change in perspective. So much of my life has changed in a second, and I am left playing catch up with my wonder. God has always been the god of irony to me, and I know this is part of his humor and love.
I cannot stress how much at home that makes me feel in this world, even though in this world, I know I am here as a stranger.
- Remembering You – Stephen Curtis Chapman
One of my bigger consistencies in my characters and in my books is the reflective tone. That’s a large reason I like this song. “Remembering You” has become my theme song not only for how I remember God, but also how I remember all the good things I’ve been given in this life. How you remember those things – those people, those experiences, those gifts – says more about you than you would believe.
- Crash and Burn – Savage Garden
I like to think a lot of my work is character-driven rather than plot-driven (Think of Finding Nemo vs. The Avengers). I love having more of an understanding of my characters and how they will react to certain situations.
But one of the bigger things in life is facing the end of hope. It can seem like the death of hope to many. I want to be able to write believable work, even if it’s fantastical in its elements, and offering hope is something that people really need to know. That’s why I love this song; this is more like an anthem to my readers than something that I draw on for my writing inspiration itself. If you need to crash, my books will be there for you to offer complicated, meaningful fun that might help not only help you escape the troubles of your life, but help inspire you to overcome them.
While I have a lot of different things to who I am, one expectation I always strive to meet with my readers remains consistent: I want my readers to know they can trust I know what I am doing, and that the hesitation or surprise they feel at a new worlds in my work will only add to the overall fun in the end.
I’d love to know what you think, too! What are some of your favorite songs, and why?
About the Author
C. S. Johnson is the author of several young adult novels, including sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.