And here, y’all, is my second guest for the September Drollerie Blog Tour. On the theme of “music”, E. G. Diehl has come by to share with you her musical background–which, I’ve got to say, is impressive!–and how music will be showing up in her forthcoming Drollerie Press works.
Elisa lives over here and is doing a post exchange with me this month for the tour! Peek behind the fold for her post, and when you’re done with that, go say hi to her at her place, and check out what I’ve got to say about Faerie Blood‘s playlist!
I’m sure, dear readers of Angela Korra’ti’s blog, that none of you will be in the least bit surprised that when asked to describe myself in a handful of words, I come up with “musician” long before it occurs to me to mention “writer.” This, of course, is because the odds that any of you have even the foggiest idea of who I am are slim as makes no odds, and you therefore can only assume from conjecture and context that I have ever written a book.
Aaaaaaaand now that I’m finished being quirky at you, I can give you the simpler introduction: Hi. I’m E. G. Diehl or E. Grace Diehl, or whatever I’m sticking on book covers and letterhead at the end of the day, and I’m an actor/musician doing my graduate work in Asian Performance at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said “singer” just as soon as I grew out of “firefighter” at maybe the age of five. I played the violin in orchestra through middle and high school, and I played cello in one of the high school’s more liberal jazz bands. I played the electric violin and sang lead vocals in a rock band that gigged a tiny, comfortable little beat in Tatebayashi, Gunma, Japan (mostly in one restaurant for which we were the official “house band”) for several years between the completion of my BA in Musical Theatre and the start of my grad studies, and I was very recently cast in the leading female role of the Beijing Opera “White Snake” for which I now spend about 12 hours a week in lessons with Jingju (Beijing Opera) acting masters from China trying to learn how to act stylized-elegant-female and belt out falsetto Chinese through my cheekbones and hard palate. Trust me on this, 12 hours a week isn’t nearly enough, and I am probably going to drive the world at large nuts while I practice my head off until February… which is when we’re actually going to be performing. Anyhoo, I’m also the violinist in an intermittent jug band (ß it crops up like a mushroom at theatre events ^_^), and I play the Ryuteki flute in the Hawaii Gagaku Society’s ensemble. Suffice it to say, this blurb is only the briefest, most hollow overview of how close to the center of my life music really is, but at least it can give you a pretty good idea of how close it is to the core of my intended profession.
Curiously enough, not a lot of the characters in my novels sing or play instruments, or at least they generally don’t *inside* the books. I’ve written a ridiculous number of songs (mostly for the above mentioned rock band) from the point of view of characters from the novels, but I’m not sure that counts. Most of the characters I write are snaky, zany, astoundingly competent professional types who have a job of some sort (student, detective, Edwardian Lord, swordsman, magician) and do it well, but unconventionally, and most of them have hobbies like Tae-Kwon-Do or full-contact-poker (no joke, that’s actually a sport in one of my sci-fi worlds). In everything I’ve written, with the exception of one of my shorter fantasy works, I have a total of one serious musician (an eight year old violinist) who, if asked to describe himself, would tell you he’s a scientist.
All this said and done, that “one of my shorter fantasy works” is perhaps the most relevant topic for something in this blog tour, in that I’m under contract to publish the first two novels in that series with Drollerie Press. The world in question (a folklore-fantasy version of turn-or-last-century Europe) never stops singing, and the main character rarely stops singing along with it. The character (a boy/man named Kinlea)’s sense of song is almost his pulse, and he uses it to gage the friendliness of hostility of his surroundings. You see, he’s a defender of balance within magic, and when magic is healthy, it sings.
…For someone who writes novels, I feel as though I’m not explaining this very well, but there we are. In Kinlea’s world, magic sings because it is alive and bursting with wild, fierce elation that it can not entirely hold beneath its slightly more mundane surface. Kinlea is full to the brim with exactly the same sort of power, like a wellspring of the magic well, so I suppose the story’s musical/magical interrelatedness makes sense. There’s something almost visceral and basic about the way this magic system gets under my skin, and I must admit, I love it in a way quite unlike the way I love my other works.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for a song, and I’m even more of a sucker for a world that sings. When it comes right down to it, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. What better reason to hold a degree in musical theatre?
With this thought, I leave you, and I thank you for putting up with my excessive parenthetical commentary, not to mention ellipses-abuse. Happy blog-tour reading, and if you plan to be in Honolulu in February, don’t miss out on “The White Snake.” If it’s not gloriously spectacular by then, I think I’ll replace my sinuses with bionics or ground myself permanently to rock music and belt-roles.