My writing has always leaned on music. Whether inspiration, mood, or energy to keep me going through the many hours of drafting and editing, it can be an important force and fuel for what I do. These tracks in particular were especially crucial, helping me build or refine a character, a scene, or a whole story arc.
One word comes to mind when I think about this track, and that’s “propulsive.” That’s exactly what I needed Corinne’s story arc in Prophet of Chaos to be. The Midnight Juggernauts are one of the many musical finds I’ve come up with after plumbing the depths of a Spotify radio station based on the stranger corners of my listening portfolio. I really fell for their odd dance-rock, heavy on the synth. This one in particular stood out. Its simple drum rhythm plunges forward, trilling guitar with layers of percussive synth pulses entwined around it. The organ chords come in and out, providing a background resonance over the chorus that feels like a force rising from defeat to strike back, something rising in flight as it battles its way through the danger. I had included Corinne as a character in Hand of Chaos and knew I wanted to bring her back, but I didn’t know exactly what her powers and skills would be or what role she would play in the overall story.
I knew she would be a warrior, a lethal weapons-expert whose combat skills would be unparalleled. That said, I wanted her to be more than simply a bland tank of a character that was good with swords or guns or what-have-you. After all, Corinne is an agent that works for a covert government entity that fights and uses magic. Simply being a ninja or killing machine wasn’t good enough. There had to be something special about her. I toyed with a lot of ideas, but as I thought of her as this warrior who could evoke a brief and powerful surge of flight, things began to click. The rhythms of “Lara Versus the Savage Pack” helped me think of how her fighting style and plot arc would work, how she would soar and slice her way through the adversities thrown her way in Prophet of Chaos. She starts out in a dark place, the grief of losing one of her best friends and a plague of questions rattling her to take on a fight she never expected to find.
Corinne Massey was one of the first of her family to go legit. A badge, a gun, and a job that gives her the authority to right wrongs that most of her relatives and ancestors had to resolve through extra-legal means. Descended from a long line of mystics and mages dedicated to fighting black magic and arcane menaces, Corinne is a Devastator. A warrior with Arcane powers that vary by their evocation, a Devastator calls on the power of Limbo to enhance their fighting skills and prowess to super-human levels. In Corinne’s case, her evocation is the Roc, a bird-of-prey that frequents the more savage parts of Limbo’s Planes. Paired with expertise in swords, archery, and a variety of martial weaponry, her evocation grants her temporary bursts of flight, speed, and strength that she’s used to drop all sorts of supernatural threats from human to Demon to Angel in the name of Limbo.
She holds a badge from the NSA’s Division of Unconventional Weapons and Tactics, known colorfully as DUWAT, where she works as a field agent. Knowing what some of her relatives have to go through without the same protections she has, she’s comfortable at her job. She never questioned DUWAT and the degree of protection and latitude the organization gave her, until now. After a routine surveillance operation turned into an ambush, her partner and best friend Dorian lies dead. Eager to even the score, Corinne finds her superiors hesitant to take the risk of pursuing Dorian’s killer given more clear and present threats that need DUWAT’s immediate attention. Sidelined with a paid suspension after an emotional outburst over Dorian’s death, Corinne finds she can’t let it go. She has to find Dorian’s killer and know why they were targeted, especially since she has a feeling Dorian’s murder is just the beginning.
Risking her job with an unauthorized investigation and grasping at some tenuous leads, Corinne finds that it’s all connected to a string of missing enchanters and a mysterious group of Hell-worshipping acolytes operating under DUWAT’s radar that are up to all sorts of bad. Before she realizes the danger she’s found herself in, she’s faced with some of the worst Hell has to offer, and with the one man who actually is trying to stop it all: a man known to most as the Prophet. What started as a simple quest for answers has turned into something much more fundamental: a quest for survival.