I am not a very musical person. You wouldn’t think so, considering I decided to write an entire blog post about music, but while I do listen to music, it tends to be the same handful of songs on repeat. I can’t for the life of me build character or novel playlists. And yet, my first published novel, Viral Airwaves, was born from a musical prompt!
I’ve been talking so much about City of Strife these days, I figured it’d be nice to go down memory lane and share Viral Airwaves’ origin story!
The very first draft of this story happened during NaNoWriMo (this is true of every novel I have published so far). About a week before November, I was chilling in our chatroom with a friend and we decided to mess around with prompts. Just in case we ran out of inspiration–as if the outline for an 80k novel wouldn’t suffice (it didn’t).
The prompt went as follows: use shuffle to get two random songs in your music and combine them. It got:
A Criminal Mind, from Gowan
Hot Air Balloon, from Owl City — this is not the official video but it is adorable and super fitting with Henry so. Watching this one. XD)
The prompt became: An unapologetic criminal hires a hot air balloon pilot to cross a border.
The unapologetic criminal is Seraphin. The balloon pilot is Henry. I added an antagonist to pursue Seraphin (Captain Vermen) and I was off! In the first Viral Airwaves draft, Henry already owns his balloon, there is no Galen and Omar, no radio, no Plague, and nothing about Henry’s dad tying it all together. It’s all about the pursuit, and in all honesty, it’s almost 80k of character development for Vermen (most of which I crammed into the first third of the finished novel LOL). It has evolved so much, and a lesson from this is: if you love your characters, don’t be afraid to rebuild their stories from scratch. You’ll find the right place eventually.
Bonus irony point: Seraphin never even steps into the hot air balloon in the finished novel.
So those are the songs at the start of the novel! I hope you enjoyed the insight into Viral Airwaves’ beginning. It’s on sale right now, too, so you can grab it for $1.99 on Amazon or $0.99 everywhere else! In fact, everything I have published is on sale, so if City of Strife (friendship-centered fantasy, $0.99) or Wings of Renewal (solarpunk dragons anthology, $2.99, money goes to Standing Rock) are more up your alley, get those instead!
Thank you for dropping by!
Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailing from the very-French Québec City. Her long studies in biochemistry and immunology often sneak back into her science-fiction, and her love for sprawling casts invariably turns her novels into multi-storylined wonders. Claudie is a founding member of The Kraken Collective and is well-known for her involvement in solarpunk, her database of aro and ace characters in speculative fiction, and her unending love of squids. Find out more on her website!