CHRISTINE M. KNIGHT

An Australian author who provides insight into the human condition.

On Writing: Song Bird

‘Song Bird’ is the third novel in the Keimera series and a sequel to ‘Life Song’, but the story stands independently and on its own merit. When read within the context of the series, the reader’s knowledge of the characters in that world is enriched. The reader grows with the characters over the course of the three novels. As I am an Australian author, I use the British spelling system.

To date, I have used a different central motif in each novel to organise the story. I use a motif to weave together the thematic complexities of characterisation and plot. The motif is the palette used to shape my characters and the world that they inhabit, to comment on characters, and to point to the story’s underlying meaning.

Some of the key elements of the motif are the golden road, red shoes, the land of glitter and gloss, the colour green, and the Holy Grail pursued by the protagonist and other key characters. A few of these elements are incorporated into the book’s cover design and into marketing imagery used to launch and promote the novel.

The title ‘Song Bird’ meant that this story focused on Nikki Mills (aka Mavis Mills) and her journey now that she has achieved fame and fortune. The novel’s subtitle is ‘Matters of the Heart’, a key focus in the plot and subplots. The subplots were constrained by their relevance to Nikki’s journey in this stage of her life. I developed them in broad impressionistic strokes. They support and expand upon the major plot and its insights. I also use subplots to change the pace of the storytelling and to shift tone and mood. I’m told the story is fast paced.

In contrast, my other novels focused a lot more on the world and issues in which the protagonist and other characters lived. I developed the subplots in those stories in greater depth as they provided insight into the respective worlds and allowed me to explore the themes from differing perspectives.

The complexity of each novel stems from the paralleling and contrasting of lives, relationships, and the ripple effect that people’s actions have on one another in a community. My novels are character driven stories anchored in the physical and social settings of the times. I use point of view shifts from inner thought to dialogue to the situational arena to explore themes and examine them from several standpoints. I’m intrigued by and interested in the notion of reality versus perception, myth versus real-life, the discoveries that characters make about life, the connections and discordances between people, and the complexities of love.

As part of the writing process for 'Song Bird’, I composed lyrics and music that helped me focus on character relationships and the central theme. ‘Road to True North’ and ‘The Flame’ are two songs that evolved from that process. They were ultimately engineered and produced at Karma Sound Studios in Thailand and are on sale through CD Baby and iTunes. Dagny (London) provided the vocals for 'Road to True North'. Thanapat Yartcharoen (short name: Film) provided the male vocals in 'The Flame' and Jirana Williamson (short name: Funnie) provided the female vocals in that song. 

My publisher also commissioned a song through crowdsourcing for ‘Song Bird’. ‘The Golden Road’ by Justine Camilleri and Chris Gale was chosen from a highly competitive field of entries. The lyrics were the outcome of a number of discussions between Justine Camilleri and me about the imagery that I used in 'Song Bird’ and the plot’s concerns. It is one of two songs used in the book video trailer. The other song is ‘Road to True North’. My song is engineered and produced by Shane Edwards, who also provided all of the instrumental work.

Performer bios

Dagny is a Norwegian singer songwriter who has blossomed from a musical background in Tromsø in the very north of Norway. Interestingly, her promotional brand is song bird of the north. In many ways her music reflects her personality ‐ a folk/pop sound infused with eternal optimism. Dagny is no stranger to big crowds ¬‐ she opened for Sir Elton John, playing to a crowd of over 10,000 people in March 2012. Later that same year she was the exclusive support for Sting at the Impact Arena in Bangkok and in June of 2014 she opened for Bryan Adams at Clam Castle in Austria receiving an amazing reaction from a crowd of over 9,000. In late 2013, Dagny moved to the UK where she has become a firm favourite on the indie folk/pop scene.She is on Facebook.

Justine Camilleri is an Australian born singer/songwriter with a passion for coffee and comfortable shoes. Starting her career in the mid ‘90’s as a singer with MO Award nominees, Sisters Incorporated, Justine was taken under the guiding wings of her mother, Billie Wilde, and the late Sharyn Crystal. Performing regularly on television (Midday with Kerrie-Anne and John Mangos), P & O Cruises, corporate sector events and clubs throughout N.S.W gave Justine the opportunity to grow and develop her own stage presence. A meeting with multi award winner Allan Caswell, best known for ‘On the Inside’ (the theme song for the Australian television series ‘Prisoner’), solidified Justine’s desire to not only write songs but to write them from the heart. In 2009, she formed a rewarding song writing partnership with Melbourne musician Chris Gale. The rocky ‘Golden Road’, a purpose written song for Christine M Knight’s third novel ‘Song Bird’ was given its punch with the help of her brother and drummer, Jason Bryant, and guitarist, Warren O’Neill. She is on Facebook.

Thanapat Yartcharoen (short name: Film) is one of the male singers (the tenor) in the Thai Pop Opera group, Fivera. Fivera can be located on YouTube. Fivera also has a Facebook page. Jirana Williamson (short name: Funnie) is one of the singers in the Thai all girl pop group Karmiix. They don't have any videos as yet but can be located on Facebook. 


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GLOSSARY SNIPPET

The ARIA AWARDS are the Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards.

ANZAC is an acronym formed from the initial letters of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC spirit refers to the ANZAC legend dating from World War 1. For more information visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_spirit

arvo is Australian slang for afternoon.

Carry on like a pork chop means that ‘someone is behaving in a silly or stupid way. This expression is a shorter version of the longer and more widespread phrase be like a pork chop in a synagogue. This colloquialism has been around since the 1950s. Since pork is forbidden food for Jewish people, to describe something as being like a pork chop in a synagogue means that it is highly inappropriate, embarrassingly out of place, and quite unwelcome. The Australian expression carry on like a pork chop has now shifted the focus from inappropriateness to foolishness’. For more information see http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Pork+Chop

Bump in and out refers to the process of moving a band’s equipment in and off stage and in and out of the performance venue.

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LATEST BLOG POSTS

    Saturday, August 12, 2017

    Life Song - a story of metamorphosis

    Saturday, August 12, 2017

    Twenty-two-year-old Mavis Mills first appears in my novel In and Out of Step. Outgoing, gregarious, and confident, Mavis is a significant secondary character in that novel.  Mavis' story - a subplot - is used to provide contrast to and insight into Cassie Sleight's (the central character) journey. 

    At one point in the novel, effervescent Mavis is severely injured – physically, emotionally, and psychologically - by domestic violence and the fire of her partner’s rage. He also destroys her guitar and the copies of her original songs. Part of  the subplot from In and Out of Step explores the context of the domestic violence and provides insight into the psychology of it. Excuses are not made.

    At the start of Life Song, Mavis is twenty-eight-years-old and very different from the young woman who shone throughout most of In and Out of Step. She is the central character in Life Song. She has become subdued, distrustful of her own judgement, and an echo of her former self. Unexpectedly, she discovers she has a choice: continue to live a life tainted by domestic violence or seize the opportunity before her and try to rise above her circumstance and, like the phoenix bird, leave the ashes of her past life behind.

    'Could she live the rest of her life as she'd been living. She couldn't, not now she'd glimpsed another world, fleeting though that vision had been.'

    Life Song is not a cliche 'chic musician on the road' story and is definitely not a romance. It is about the woman Mavis becomes and the people who stand by her as she undergoes transformation – physical, psychological, and to an extent spiritual. She does not solve her problems in the arms of a man but makes the hard choices herself.

    The drama comes from the tugs-of-war that Mavis has to work though. It is made all the harder because Mavis' heart is in conflict with itself. One person, no matter how strong, cannot win a tug-of-war alone. The same applies to Mavis.

    Readers learn about the things that give Mavis strength and that enable her to boldly embrace the inevitable changes coming into her life as she becomes Nikki Mills, the Song Bird from Oz.

    I recommend you listen to two songs from that novel: Sunshine Days and Life Song (A Vision Splendid) to get a feel for this story.

    There are many kinds of wins in life, most of them personal rather than widely acclaimed. It's those personal 'brave heart' moments that define Mavis. Reader feedback through my publisher and website is that Life Song is a gratifying read.

    As part of your journey in reading this blog,  I suggest you listen to Move On.  In my imagination, it is first sung by Mavis' support network, but ultimately the song becomes her personal mantra.

    Australia is a diverse landscape and has diverse communities. Life Song gives readers an opportunity to spend time in some of those communities. The title alludes to the fact that each character's life has its own melody and when sung in concert become the symphony that is Life Song

    Notes:

    Life Song is one of four novels in The Keimera Series. Each novel is a standalone narrative and has the backstory woven into it.  The Keimera Series is an opus.

    Keimera does not in any way allude to chimeraa monstrous fire-breathing hybrid creature from Greek mythology.

    If you would like to lend me your support so that I can produce more music from my novels, you can buy any of my songs from CD Baby.  Each of my songs can be purchased for the very small price of $1.69. My music is also on iTunes and other major online music sellers as well.



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    Sunday, June 25, 2017

    The story behind my song 'The Flame'

    Sunday, June 25, 2017


    'The Flame' features in my novel ‘Song Bird’. In the novel, it is sung by rock legend Rick Brody who serenades Nikki Mills (the central character in the novel). In real life, it was sung by Funnie Williams and Thanapat Yarchartoen (aka Film). I produced the song through Karma Sound Studios in Thailand.

    BACKSTORY TO 'THE FLAME' - The Singer or the Song?

    In ‘Song Bird’ and its prequel 'Life Song', Nikki Mills - the Girl from Oz - is a survivor of domestic violence. Once an innocent, she believed the very convincing serenade of her first significant love, Terry Kikby. Long before Nikki met Rick, his song 'The Flame' resonated with her.  She believed that Rick's songs really expressed his own ideas and values.

    Having been at the top of the music industry for sixteen years, Rick finds his music is dropping in the charts. Defined by his 'bad boy' image, he has lost sight of his real self. Consequently,  his music has lost its connection with his fan base. Interested in Nikki as a woman as much as in her skill as a lyricist, Rick collaborates with Nikki on a new album. 

    Flattered by Rick's interest in her and impressed by 'The Flame', Nikki embarks on a relationship with him.  A subplot in the novel explores the ramifications of that decision.  Can she help Rick find the heart that his music once had?  Will Nikki be hurt or healed by the relationship with him?  The answers are found in my novel 'Song Bird'. 

    Readers of this blog may also find the pop rock song 'Masque' and interesting insight into Rick and Nikki's relationship issues.

    I currently have 8 songs on CD Baby and iTunes. You can help me raise the money to produce the rest of my songs by buying one or more of my songs at the very small price of $1.69 per song. They are on sale at CD Baby and  iTunes. Online music streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer promote my music, but I only earn approximately one cent per one hundred streams. 

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    Sunday, June 25, 2017

    The Story Behind Pop Rock Song 'Masque'

    Sunday, June 25, 2017

    'Masque' is a duet between charismatic rock star, Rick Brody, and singing sensation Nikki Mills (the Girl from Oz). They are fictional characters in my novel, ‘Song Bird’, which is on sale through Amazon, Book Depository, and other online booksellers as are my other novels' 'Life Song' and 'In and Out of Step' - in paperback and eBook formats.

    'Masque' features the vocal talents of Australians, Skye Elisabeth and Nic James. I am the composer and executive producer for all of my music. Although I am a musician, I no longer perform publicly but use talented session musicians.

    I use music as part of my writing process when developing a novel as it allows me to explore character perspectives, challenges, and personal journeys.

    My song ‘Masque’ evolved out of my exploration of Rick and Nikki’s relationship when developing 'Song Bird', the novel . The song helped me better understand rock legend Rick Brody, the impact of being a rock star on Rick's relationship with Nikki, and the core obstacles they faced. Rick Brody is one of four pivotal men in Nikki Mills' life.

    Wider Relevance
    The song has relevance for anyone who feels compelled to be what others expect the person to be rather than being true to self, something that is much easier said than done.

    'Masque' also has relevance for a diverse number of people. For instance, I play many roles: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, author, musician and so on. I understand how the expectations and demands of others put me under pressure not to let others down. In trying not to short-change others, it was so easy to forget about who I was separate from those roles and what my being real meant.

    The context behind the song 'Masque'
    In ‘Song Bird’, Rick Brody is charismatic rock star who has been living the cliché - sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Like the Tinman from Oz, Rick is injured by his trade. For the Tinman, it was his axe. For Rick Brody, it was his status as a rock star and image of 'bad boy’. He became defined by those roles. Life became a masquerade.

    In both cases, the Timan and Rick become manufactured men in want of heart.  Rick’s preoccupation with living the cliché meant that his music lost its heart and the appeal that had drawn audiences to him as he rose to the pinnacle of the music industry.

    By contrast, Nikki refused to sell out in order to achieve success. She was determined to get to the top on her own terms and to not be treated as a commodity in the industry.

    At the Australian Recording Industry Awards, Rick asked his manager to connect him with Nikki after seeing her perform. Rick claimed his primary interest in Nikki was musical collaboration, but his libido and history of conquests shaped his reason for collaborating with her and definitely shaped the way he interacted with her.

    Although Nikki pretended not to be attracted to Rick, she was flattered that he was ‘interested in her of all people. Unlike his fans, Nikki did not have an urge to flash her breasts, hand over her panties, or suggest a threesome.’  She maintained a mask of cool indifference and stayed work-focused throughout the early stages of their musical relationship. Consequently, Rick viewed Nikki as a challenge. Committed to the long game in winning her, he courted.

    A survivor of domestic violence, Nikki was cautious about the men with whom she mixed.  ‘Song Bird’ explores the ripple effect of her decision to work with Rick. Can she help Rick find the heart that his music once had? Can he become real with her? Will Nikki’s relationship with him injure her?

    You can read more about 'Song Bird' here and on other pages at my website.

    You can help me raise the money to produce the rest of my songs by buying one or more of my songs at the very small price of $1.69 per song. They are on sale at CD Baby and  iTunes. The online music streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer promote my music, but I only earn approximately one cent per one hundred streams. 

    Note: As the novels are set in Australia, I use the British spelling system and language conventions. There are minor differences to the American system.

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