Music For Heat and Writing

Kage Baker, as I have said before, loved heat. As long as she could strip down in the privacy of her home, sit in a breeze, somehow get all that hair off the back of her neck, and have an endless supply of cold drinks to hand. Fans, ice, rum, Coca-Cola and really, really big hair pins usually took care of most of her requirements. Then, even while I melted into a whining pool of self-pitying sludge, she would put Falla’s El Amor Brujo on infinite repeat and write like a madwoman …

Want to hear some Mendoza music? El Amor Brujo is some primo stuff. The entire piece is pure Mendoza (with bits of Joseph here and there) but the “Danza Ritual de Fuego” is the soundtrack of Mendoza’s journey through the L.A. Basin and the Hollywood Hills with Edward – desperately racing to Wilmington, to charter a doomed boat to Catalina Island …

There is lots of other Mendoza music, of course – including a weird sinister little waltz from one of the Monkey Island games. Kage painstakingly made a 45-minute disc of that waltz and nothing else and listened to it endlessly. Oh, and Synchronicity by the Police: why, neither of us ever figured out, but it is utterly entwined with Garden of Iden.

It’s pushing 100 degrees in portions of Los Angeles today (anywhere I go, apparently). Sitting in my darkened room in Kimberly’s stucco house, it’s not too bad – we have fans on, doors open where the trees shade them, and plans for mango sherbet later on. I have my own hair pinned up under headphones, so I can listen to Rimsky-Korsakof’s Scheherezade: which is the ultimate summer music for me.

It’s also the ultimate music for Kage herself, her whole introspective, cast-of-thousands memories, fire in the head self. The repeating motif in “The Story of Kalendar Prince” – horns, harps, flutes, oboes, violins, each in their turn repeating in a different mood and tempo – that is most particularly Kage. It’s also the music behind the very first stories in the Anvil Universe, created and told to me on hot days just like this, under the netted fish leaves of the eucalyptus in the back yard.

Her hands moved when she talked. Especially when she told stories – those who saw her read at cons or signings might remember. She was even more animated when just telling tales, as she liked to do around the fire on camping trips: I saw all of it, but I can share the memory as well with the select few she chose to enchant: Becky, Wayne, Kelly, Neassa, Tom, Stacy, all those hardy veterans of the nights at China Lake where we carved turnips and ate home-made marshmallows, and listened to Kage tell stories of the jealousy of the sea.

I remember how her hands moved through the rhythms of Scheherezade. There are stories in those memories, of the children of Gard and the Lady, of the rise (and fall) of their house, of its eventual resurrection through the auspices of the Children of the Sun. There are crazy stories of nymphs and lava storms, of cliffs where molten gold falls into the steaming sea to create gilded reefs, of interesting places like the Ash Hills or the haunted City in the Ice. There are even crazier stories of what happens when Lord Ermenwyr takes up the life a merchant and joins the local Chamber of Commerce …

I would say more, but … my computer has gone down three times while I have written this, felled by the heat. I need a dedicated fan in my desk. At the moment, I am writing on the Buke and paranoidly saving at the end of every sentence.

So I shall leave you here, Dear Readers, and go fan shopping. Play yourselves some hot weather music, and imagine doomed lovers galloping through the sage brush desolation of the Los Angeles Basin; or Lord Ermenwyr choosing the menu for the annual Resteraunters’ Award Dinner. Have a Pimm’s Cup and a Fudgesickle.

Kage would.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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