The Last Mailman Soundtrack

My pal Jessica Meigs (pronounced Jess-i-ca) recently published a blog post about her books’ soundtrack and the way she shared the music was so good that I just had to steal it.  I too have been holding onto a soundtrack in my head for a long time and was looking for a way to share it.  Hopefully, my link to the playlist on Spotify will work…my technical blogging ability begins and ends with clicking on Publish.

Anyway, like I’ve said before I don’t actually listen to anything while I’m writing.  I need absolute silence, as I am very easily distracted.  (Damn you, Angry Birds!  Damn you AV Club comment threads!  Damn you, internet!)   My process is letting the action unfold in my head like I’m watching a movie.  And movies have soundtracks.  So sometimes, I will be “watching” my movie and think of a song that I imagine to be playing as the scene unfolds.  Or I’ll hear a song later and think that it would be a perfect fit for a scene I have been working on. 

Now that the book is  in widespread release, I feel I can finally unveil the soundtrack I’ve been keeping to myself for almost 2 years.  Of course, if you still haven’t read it, the remainder of this entry will be MASSIVE SPOILERS!!!! 

1. “Titus Andronicus Forver” – Titus Andronicus

When you’re cruising around in the wild, dodging zombies left and right, what better song could there be than basically one lyric over and over “The enemy is everywhere!”?  Plus, there’s the creepy weird dialogue at the end that very well sums up DJ Haddox’s frame of mind.  It’s apparently a Lincoln quote, which is kind of depressing and I wish I could un-know that. “I am now the most miserable man living.  If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on Earth.”  This is the song DJ is listening to in the truck as he pulls up to the Whitman house and I imagine him shutting the engine down just as the song ends.  Here’s a miserable guy and let’s begin his miserable story…

2. “Lust For Life” – Girls

There’s a big jump in the action before I get to the next musical accompaniment.  I don’t actively pursue a soundtrack.  So we go from the absolute beginning of the story to Chapter 6: The Lap of Luxury.  The survivors have made a stop at an abandoned hotel and are having their first safe and even fun night.  The song itself kind of has a fun, whimsical vibe and the lyrics are about wishful thinking.  “I wish I had a sun tan. I wish I had a pizza and a bottle of wine….Instead I’m just crazy.”  I don’t know how to write the ol cinematic montage and I only briefly touch on what the guys are doing during this fun time, but if this actually was a movie, there would be a montage of pool and darts and drinking… and this song would be playing.

3. “2/11 Don’t Forget” – Times New Viking

Stacey Pepper is the only character who gets her own theme song.  All I can picture when I hear this song is, I don’t know, like weird psychadelic dancing or something.  I feel like it has a seductive, feminine sound to it and whenever Stacey is doing something cool, I imagine this song playing.  Particularly when the gang watches her killing zombies in the middle of an intersection, this song accompanies the fluidity and grace of her movements.

4. “Month of May”- Arcade Fire

This song isn’t on the playlist because Spotify doesn’t have it (BOO).  Arcade Fire isn’t exactly known for up tempo rock-sounding songs, and it’s not one of my favorites by them, but this song is just perfect for a crazy pit fight.  DJ jumps into a hole full of zombies with no plan and no weapons and this song starts blaring.  http://youtu.be/XAAyYvzRb5U

5. “Swim” – Surfer Blood

DJ does crazy things.  And he prefers to do it with a kickass soundtrack.  Much like the pit fight being kicked off with an action song, “Swim” kicks off the most exciting part of the book: when DJ is being chased by 200 super zombies. His only plan seems to be “don’t die” and even that plan is not very realistic.  I love the manic energy of this song, it fits perfectly with the scene and it was the first time I realized that music could enable me to enjoy the movie in my head even more.

6. “Let it Die” – The Dutchess & The Duke

This song plays for me after DJ has just survived the farmhouse super zombie debacle and is very upset about Maria’s death, Bill’s disappearance and how much his plan ultimately sucked and cost a lot of lives.  He’s in a very bad place now but he has no choice but to keep going.  This song didn’t really do anything for me at first, but when I heard it at the same time I was writing this scene, I fell in love with it and listened to it about four or five times in a row.  The song again captures his frame of mind…sometimes literally: “I’m out here all alone now.”   Not to mention the meaning the title “Let it Die” takes on in a post-apocalyptic universe.  

7. “Terrible Love” – The National

The National is the go to band for moody, depressing masterpieces and so when my hero was down in the dumps, I naturally turned to them.  This song doesn’t really accompany any particular moment and the lyrics aren’t the closest match I’ve had, but it’s sad and very much conveys the bad mental place DJ has allowed himself to go.  Cinematically, the song would play over a long shot of the house where he ends up or maybe as he’s constructing the homemade tombstones.  That’s the absolute low point for the character.  Then he goes crazy and things get comical because who wants to read about a depressed guy? 

Honestly, I struggled with where to go with this for a long time.  Permuted Press wanted an expansion and I initially thought, “Oh, that’s easy, I’ll just complete the round trip instead of splitting it into two books.”  Easier said than done.  Part Two was already partially written and DJ was nowhere to be found because…I really had NO IDEA what to do with him.  So there I am sitting with no less than three unfinished versions of how the story continues after the Stacey POV switch and the only thing they had in common was that the main character was spinning his wheels.  So basically, I said, “what if spinning his wheels IS what he is doing?”  I finally had a launching point to finish the story, and  crazily enough, it ended up being one of  my top 5 favorite parts.  It was the first time I had to just put the character in a place and trust that he would take me somewhere instead of vice versa and thankfully, it all worked out.   

8. “Colours” – Grouplove

This song has become a big hit, so I it kind of has an asterisk next to it in its place on my soundtrack.  At the time of my writing, it was just a quirky cool little song I had recently discovered and I thought it had a nice beat to match Mike’s big moment with its HUHs and HAHs.  Mike is a very underdeveloped, fairly unimportant character and playing this super song that has dominated Sirius Alt Nation’s countdown for most of the year over his big moment would just overshadow him.  But even so, I still like it for the scene.

9. “Truth” – Alexander

“Let it Die” was originally my “things suck but let’s keep moving on” song when the farmhouse was the ending of the book.  Then the expansion came along and Alexander came along and blew everything out of the water.  THIS is the real “things suck but let’s keep moving on” song!  DJ manned up, decided to save everyone he could and go home at last and what does he get for it?  He killed his best friend…twice.   This song’s mood plays so well for the ‘resolved, yet in a depressed kind of way’.  They even used it in same exact way in the premeire of the latest season of Breaking Bad and I felt totally justified and validated by my song choice.  Score one for me and my cranial cinemetography! 

10. “Solitude is Bliss” – Tame Impala

It’s the closing credits of a happy ending!  I need something completely different than anything else since this was mostly an unhappy story.  This song sounds kind of happy but it’s all an act.  “You will never come close to how I feel.”  “Solitude is bliss.”   These are not happy thoughts.  I like the idea that DJ knows that it’s all over now and he’s safe and he should be happy…but is he?  He’s spent an entire adventure learning that he cares about people more than he thought he did and he now knows that solitude is NOT bliss, so there’s an irony there.  I like the idea that this is a happy sounding song that’s about sadness and DJ is a guy who is now projecting happiness but it remains to be seen if he truly is happy.

The Last Mailman

Sweet Release

Just in time for the holiday shopping season comes the long-awaited return to the market for my book:

THE LAST MAILMAN: NEITHER RAIN, NOR SLEET, NOR ZOMBIES!

The Permuted Press Edition is chock full of new stuff.  First of all, it’s made of paper.  You can hold it in your hands and flip through it.  (some people are into that sort of thing).  The font looks great.  The cover art is phenomenal and the praise quotes make me blush. 

Okay, so you don’t think paper is that big of a deal and you’re totally on board with the digital revolution but you still want to read my book.  Not a problem.  The ebook version is also available  from Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nookbooks and Smashwords!

But Kevin, you say, I’m blind and/or illiterate!  How can I experience the awesomeness that is The Last Mailman?  Don’t worry, you still can!  There is an AUDIO version too!  If you would like to fall asleep to the soothing sounds of wisecracking DJ Haddox & co. slaying zombies as they navigate their way through the wastelands, then that is totally a viable option for you.

But Kevin, I already bought your book as an independent release earlier this year!  Why would I buy it AGAIN?  That would be fiscally irresponsible on my part, don’t you think?  First, no I don’t think that.  If you’re reading this, you probably know me personally and want to love and support me on my path to my chosen career.  Second, the cost of buying the ebook last March, plus buying the new book in all forms on all websites is LESS THAN THE COST OF A NIGHT OUT AT APPLEBEES.  I like Applebees just fine, but is it really better than a kickass zombie book?  I submit that it is not.  And third and most importantly…

THE NEW VERSION IS BETTER!

Permuted Press wanted the book but they didn’t want it in its original form.  I had to revise and expand it.  What does this mean?  This means I heard the reviewer’s complaints about the cliffhanger ending and it has been resolved.  Every new chapter appears after the original book ended, turning The Last Mailman into a self-contained, complete narrative journey.  The sequel I am currently writing is not the conclusion, but is instead a brand new adventure, because this one is DONE.  Find out who lives to make it back to New York and who doesn’t.

Two of my favorite parts of the book are part of the new material.  Find out what happens to DJ immediately after the first book’s conclusion.  (It’s not pretty, psychologically speaking).   You’ll also find out what happened to Bill in a chapter told from his perspective.  Incredibly, that chapter was  written in one sitting, in one take with no editing or revision required!  I never felt as good as I did while writing that chapter.  I really love it.

So I hope I have convinced you to check it out.  It’s easily the best novel I’ve ever written and Top 5 of all things I’ve ever written.  The spoof of Se7en I wrote for my primitive comic book  during the college years might still be the best, but that is not the point.  Don’t think that you can’t like this book because you’re not all that into zombies or horror.  I can honestly say that the zombies were just a launching point as a thing that I love.  TLM is more like an action movie in book form than it is a horror novel.  And it’s funny.  Funnier than I realized because I am with myself all the time and don’t always notice how funny I am.  But I have been told that it’s very funny repeatedly enough that it must be true.

And now the links:

 Amazon paperback:    http://www.amazon.com/Last-Mailman-Neither-Sleet-Zombies/dp/1934861979/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321978626&sr=1-1 

Amazon Kindle:   http://www.amazon.com/Last-Mailman-Neither-Zombies-ebook/dp/B006AFAKQS/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321978626&sr=1-1

Amazon audio:   http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_p_n_feature_browse-b_mrr_3?rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Athe+last+mailman%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A1240885011&bbn=283155&keywords=the+last+mailman&ie=UTF8&qid=1321978626&rnid=618072011

Barnes & Noblehttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-last-mailman-burke-kevin-j/1034072965?ean=9781934861974&itm=2&usri=the+last+mailman

Nook Book:   http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1036559416?ean=2940013499409&itm=1&usri=the+last+mailman

Smashwords:   http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/96723

Zombie Movie Night: Nov. ’11

Gotta admit, I didn’t know what to expect from Blood Creek.  I wasn’t even sure it would qualify as a zombie movie and that’s all I need is to have a SECOND disqualification under my belt!  (Thanks a lot, Carriers!  Why are you on a Wikipedia list of zombie flicks?  Asshole!)  Happily, Blood Creek not only has zombies in it, it has an amazing sequence where our heroes are attacked by ZOMBIE F’N HORSES!

Basically, it’s your standard tale of a Nazi who journeyed to Virginia to find some mystical stones that would help his side win the upcoming WWII.  When he discovers one, he moves in with a family and turns them into his unaging slaves, who must kidnap people to feed to the Nazi so he can drink their blood and become an immortal with power over the world.  Or something.  You’ve heard it before.  Almost every movie starts this way.  There’s really way more backstory and mythology than is necessary and I could type thirty more sentences about it and still not completely understand it.  And don’t even get me started on oddball character motivations.  Everyone does what the plot requires, even when it makes no sense. 

The impressive thing about the film is that NONE OF THAT crap matters.  The movie navigates its way through all its trappings and failings and somehow manages to come out the other end as a solidly entertaining film.  Not saying it’s going to win any awards or be particularly memorable a year or two down the line, but it didn’t make me feel like I wasted my time and it actually exceeded my expectations.  On Zombie Movie Night, where we have sat through our share of mind-numbing crap, sometimes that’s enough.

Blood Creek gets a B- grade.

So I can keep my landlords from aging, but I have to look like this? Maybe I read the ancient text wrong

 Next up was the classic (?) Italian film, Nightmare City.  A mysterious plane lands at an airfield and the passengers have been transformed into zombies!  Smart zombies who use weapons, cut phone lines, and remember where they parked.  There’s really only the most marginal of plots.  This movie is an hour and a half of zombie attacks, running from zombie attacks and bump scares.  The make-up and gore is really cheesy (it was the 80’s!) and the nudity is really gratuitous (it’s European!).  Everything is treated as camp for the most part, which is why it’s so jarring when the two main characters try to have serious conversations about WHAT IT ALL MEANS.  Plus, the lack of plot means that every fun part leads to another part that kind of drags.  We usually scoff when a movie is less than 90 minutes, but this one could have been knocked down to 75 and been better for it.
And then came the twist ending!  Maybe in 1980, the “it was all a dream” resolution wasn’t yet a cliche (it probably was) but man, what a laughably disappointing way to close the film.  So the guy dreamt the whole thing?  Even the parts he wasn’t in?  Why was he dreaming about high-ranking government officials he’s never met before and their families?  I mean, come on!  It was a dream!?  The title of the film is literal!?  LAME LAME LAME!
 
Nightmare City gets a grade of C.
 

That is, however, a pretty nightmarish looking DVD. Or the world's worst sex toy.