Monday, August 20, 2012

Crafting the Musician, Carrie Clevenger tells her secrets

When I set out to write Crooked Fang, I didn’t think about how difficult it would be. All I had was the idea of a vampire that lives in a tavern and plays the bass guitar. I could hear his dialogue and see his friends as clear as if they were standing in front of me. What I didn’t realize was that musicians are a different sort of artist, and not the sort of character you can write half-assed. There’s equipment, specific jargon and slang that a real musician employs. They generally can set up their own equipment and know the parts of their guitars. They experience something wholly unique performing on stage.

I am not a musician in any aspect of the word. Although I own three guitars, including the five-string blue ESP bass that my character plays in Crooked Fang, I can barely pick out a simple tune. But guitars are pretty and look lovely sitting there on their stands beside my desk. Call them expensive inspiration. It wasn’t until I hefted a bass guitar of my own that I got a feel for the piece. Asking questions from real musicians helped me get familiar with the bass guitar’s parts.

I subscribed to a few music magazines and bought singles of others that looked useful in my ongoing research. I started immersing myself in the rich live music scene here in Austin, Texas. I was lucky I already lived in a Mecca of music resources.

I never stopped asking questions. I watched tutorials on YouTube. I played tabs on both the guitar and bass. I watched friends set up their gear for live shows. And the whole time I listened to how they talked, both to me and to each other. A new language, casual and exclusive only to those in the real ‘know.’

A musician creates or emulates music, which means they have to know music themselves. As a result, my music library went from a paltry 30GB in my iTunes to the present size of 120GB. I explored not only classic popular hits but underground cult favorites as well. Bandcamp proved to be a fantastic resource for finding even more indie groups with either free or inexpensive downloads of fresh music.

I had a sort of mentor, and I mention him with great thanks and respect in my book, Stephen Canner, who answered a good deal of questions about music history and the not-so-magical routine of gigs and touring. He started the fire of my need to discover everything out there. And there is so much music that we humans have created, even in the past fifty years. Once one puts all of the progressions together in the mind, one can easily see the evolution of music in action.

Applying it to Crooked Fang was a breeze after that, and I only needed to double check a few terms because of all the exposure I’d gotten to the whole feel of being a musician. Again, I turned to friends in the industry to confirm I’d done a good job of representing their culture.

Another issue I came across was respectful reference to the Navajo, or Diné as they are called amongst themselves which felt like walking through a minefield. I managed with a little outside help but that’s a blog post for another day.

Crooked Fang is a vampire tale, but it’s not about vampires. Xan Marcelles is a bass player, kind of an asshole with a soft spot for women’s wiles and troubles and a vampire. Sequestered away in a tavern in teeny Pinecliffe, Colorado, he’s content to take up a chair, pluck a few strings, and keep a drink close to hand in order to stifle his darker nature.

When a blue-haired girl and her abusive boyfriend have a public spat after a Crooked Fang show on Halloween, Xan intervenes, not knowing that his gesture of chivalry will change his quiet lifestyle. With zombie-like creatures, faces from his living past, even possibly a ghost, Xan is forced out of his comfortable space and back into the world…at least for a little while.

Crooked Fang is an urban fantasy, first in the Crooked Fang Series, published by Katarr Kanticles (print) and contracted by Lyrical Press (ebook). For more on Xan and Crooked Fang, visit
Official Blurb for Crooked Fang:

Sometimes a vampire's past can bite him in the ass.

 Xan Marcelles--bassist for Crooked Fang, vampire and full-time asshole, is content with his quiet existence in the backwoods of Pinecliffe, Colorado. But life at the Pale Rider tavern is set to become a little more complicated when he gets entangled with a feisty, blue-haired damsel and her abusive soon-to-be ex-boyfriend.

 To add to his woes, he’s gone from hunter to hunted, and his past returns to haunt him when a phone call draws him back to New Mexico. With the help of friends from his living past, he must get to the bottom of a murder, and figure out where he stands with his lover and his band, all while keeping one step ahead of his enemies. Hiding won’t be easy for him, especially with a mysterious woman dogging him every step of the way.


Carrie Clevenger landed in urban fantasy when she couldn’t decide between humor and horror. She writes in multiple genres, often blending several just because she can. You can learn more about Carrie at

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