One epic chapter allowed me to squeeze in a few more musical references via section breaks—either a song title from a different Benji Hughes album or a lyrical snippet, with the precedent set in previous longer chapters to give the reader a reasonable breakpoint every 10ish pages if needed.
Specific to “Girl In The Tower,” the sections are:
Rallying Many Men
Beat of My Heart
Coming For You Ready or Not
Your Voice is a Music That I’ve Never Heard
It’s Crazy, You Probably Won’t Believe Me
Fans of A Love Extreme will recognize 2 from this song. The last one is a lyric from Monterey off Another Extreme (aka XXOXOXX).”Your voice is a music…” quotes the Cohen-esque unreleased “Masters In China” covered by Priscilla Ahn.
That leaves “Beat of my Heart”—a song that’s a music that most haven’t heard.
Around 2016-17, Benji Hughes had two new sections in his online store. Why Do These Parties Always End the Same Way? let fans book a private house concert. And Love for Sale took commissions on custom songs for special occasions. “Beat of My Heart” was a gift for my wife’s birthday that fit so well with the Heartman & Songstress section I couldn’t not reference it in L Extreme.
More to come on that song in an upcoming origin story post, but for now we’ll switch up the beat with the usual,,,
- Big props to Dr. Rachna Khanna for consulting on realistic medical landmarks for Heartman and his merry band of travelers to encounter while traversing the body.
- “Sometimes winter is cruel” comes from “Magic Summertime” by Eleni Mandell, as covered by Benji on Songs in the Key of Animals.
- “Benji set Jessica’s heart on fire. He wasn’t even trying” is a direct paraphrase from the aforementioned “Beat of My Heart” song.
- More medicine: Hallux the big toe, Pollex the big thumb. Of course they’re cousins!
- Anatomical snuffbox might be the coolest term I learned while researching L Extreme.
- I contemplated writing a scene where the crew visits the voice box to gain the power of speech, but decided there was already too much going on in this chapter to justify an overly explain-y side quest.
- “She had a strange urge to sing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ or maybe ‘God Save the Queen’ like she did at a minor league baseball game once…”
- By total coincidental accident, the shopping list from “All You’ve Got To Do…” was already sword shaped when I had the origami idea. I actually went back to change it and was pleasantly surprised it already looked the way I wanted. Hat tip to my past self for having the idea or my later self for giving it to him.
- “Swedish pop stars referred to it as a suburb of the brain.”
- The hide and seek connection is a little too obvious from the lyrics, so I had Heartman be completely against Hallux’s idea to add a little conflict as a reminder they started off as rivals.
- Heartman admitting he got confused about whose heart was congested is him speaking on my behalf. As I think I’ve said before, when I make a mistake as an author I like having the character acknowledge it in the story. Adds some realism when a character errs, and as a bonus it sometimes makes rewrites simpler 🙂
- Only In My Dreams“—which also inspired the tone of Heartman’s contemplative journey. Twenty-five years was inspired by the Goldenrods song “
- The Circle of Willis came from Dr. Khanna’s list of landmarks, but I picked it as an in-joke reference to my friend Sean Willis. He passed away a couple of weeks ago. I know he started reading L Extreme, but never heard if he made it far enough to catch his subtle name drop. Unrelated side-note: Willis was one of the first people I told about A Love Extreme once I discovered it. I sent him a text suggesting he listen; barely an hour later he wrote back “Wow. You’ve got it made, because you’re made so well. Thanks!” RIP.
- The doors are labeled SAL & MON in reference to the labels on the two discs/sides of Songs in the Key of Animals. They’re also more important to the story than they seem here. More on that later…