A surprising number of teenagers in 2019 (some them, no doubt, encouraged by hit films like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman) are fans of 70’s and 80’s rock. So, too, is Alyx, the Feisty Teenage Heroine of This Wasted Land, my latest young adult dark fantasy novel.
To go along with that, I set up the table of contents for TWL as a “playlist,” and named each chapter after a hard rock song. Each relates to their chapter in some way, whether it evokes the mood, mirrors events, reiterates themes, or simply inspired it.
Track 1 of TWL is “You Could Be Mine,” my favorite Guns N’ Roses song. Released in 1991, it appeared on their album Use Your Illusion II. It was also the theme for the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but it actually has nothing to do with killer robots from the future.
While you’re breakin’ down my back n’
I been rackin’ out my brain
It don’t matter how we make it
‘Cause it always ends the same
You can push it for my mileage
But your flaps r’ wearin’ thin
And I could sleep on it ’til mornin’
But this nightmare never ends
Instead, “You Could Be Mine” depicts a relationship that could be warm and loving, but has, through the faults of the couple, fallen to bickering and bitterness—as is happening to Alyx and her boyfriend Sam. Here’s s scene from Track 1, where Alyx and Sam are caught in a traffic jam:
We don’t get to the ramp or the highway. A semi laying on its side across both lanes. Blue and red lights: police, fire trucks, EMT ambulance. Cars backed up in front of us.
I flip up my helmet’s visor. “Crap!” Sam shouts over the engine. “My mom’s gonna be pissed.”
I kill the bike, turn my head so he can hear me. “Can’t help it!” I want some water from the bottle in the mesh sleeve on my backpack, but I don’t feel like asking Sam for it. He’s already stressing out about being late—because of course he is—and if I ask him for shit right now, he’ll probably go off on me. So annoying when he does that.
Headlights from the cars stopped behind us. He’s tapping his phone. “I’ll text her we’ll be late.”
I also use the song title as a play on words, given the witch Freydis’ abduction of Sam for her own, selfish pleasures, as the reader finds out later in the book.
Enjoy this video clip of some very talented teens performing their rendition of “You Could Be Mine,” and come back next Thursday when I discuss Track 2: “The Wanton Song,” from Led Zeppelin.
Kenton Kilgore writes killer SF/F for young adults and adults who are still young. In his latest novel, This Wasted Land, high-school senior Alyx Williams learns that witches are real when one attacks her and her boyfriend Sam, dragging him off to a nightmare world where Alyx must go to get him back.
Kenton is the author of Lost Dogs, the story of the end of the world as seen, heard–and smelled–by a dog. He also wrote Dragontamer’s Daughters, like Little House on the Prairie…with dragons! With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature. Kenton also published Hand-Selling Books to help authors better their sales.
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