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When I read Secrets of the Sands, the first book in Leona Wisoker’s Children of the Desert series, I had what seems to be the same reaction that everyone else did: I thought it was fantastic. At a number of conventions I would pitch the book to potential readers, occasionally in front of Leona. It almost became a game. I would praise her book and watch her blush. Good times.

In a matter of days at Ravencon, Fires of the Desert, the fourth book in the series, will be released. To help celebrate, I have written a song inspired by the books that I will be performing at the book launch party.

I have written a handful of songs based on other people’s books and webcomics. When I begin the creation of a derivative work, there are a few different ways to approach it. If the story is compact and full of closely knit plot points, I tend to write a plot heavy song. A song regaling the action, often speaking in first person as one of the main characters. If the book emphasizes mood, setting, or internal monologue, a story song is usually not very effective. Broad strokes to capture tone and imagery are usually the way to go.

After reading all four of Leona’s books (yes, I got advance copies!) I found myself facing an interesting challenge. These books have a large cast of vivid characters traveling over a sprawling world speaking in multiple dialects attempting to achieve multiple objectives. How do I approach condensing four thick fantasy novels into the three verses of a single 3-4 minute song?

The answer to How came by changing the question to Who. Who is the audience for this song? Once the song is recorded and added into my live set list, folks that hear it will likely need an introduction to the world, the tone, and the characters, requiring a sort of blending of my usual approaches. As the performer of the song Children of the Desert, I am more of a bard than in previous songs. Let me tell you a story and take you away. I think this is the way the characters in the story would encounter a song and the sort of song that it would be.

So far, I’ve kept the song a secret.  But that secret ends at Ravencon. Hope to see you there.

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Jonah Knight“So how,” you ask, “does a person get to be a SF/F convention musician? Are people just born knowing they want to write songs about, well, creepy stuff?”

We heard you. Mercury hears everything, you know. That’s his schtick.

Fortunately, Elizabeth Campbell, Lady Darkcargo, is tuned into his vibe as well. She got Jonah to answer that question on Darkcargo.

Read on.

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