28 Piranha to Paradox

As you may have noticed if you've read SRB, I used a lot of long lyrics in it. I guess every era has its distinctive soundtrack, but that seemed especially true of the '60s. Above are fragments of the notes I scribbled during an afternoon spent at the Lincoln Center Branch of the New York Public Library, where resource books will tell you what songs were playing on the radio in any given year, and in many cases remind you of their lyrics. I also found the words for a number of the folk songs that are used in the book.

There are limits to the number of words you can quote from a song lyric before you begin crossing the line from "fair use" to copyright infringement. These limits were not too much of an impediment to me; folk songs are largely in the public domain and in most cases only tidbits of the pop and rock songs that still enjoy copyright protection were needed to briefly establish a mood.

The songs sung by Anna Dellyne Pepper were an exception. I needed whole verses and choruses of those and I needed them to convey thoughts specifically related to the subtexts of the scenes that featured them. So preparing for those moments in the book meant getting into the appropriate mood by listening to old Billie Holiday numbers, then writing original lyrics that I could use without asking permission from anybody. For those lyrics ("Secret In The Air" and "Can't Leave Me Behind") no actual tunes exist (yet).

LETTER TO PATSY (January 2, 1994)

No, my book isn’t finished. But I just this week finished chapter 19 and believe I can safely predict that by next Christmas the book will be done.

My publisher, which up until now has been Piranha Press, has decided to change its name to Paradox Press for some reason. I find "Piranha" more interesting than "Paradox"; it has a dangerous, subversive sound that appeals to me. But whether the imprint is "Piranha" or "Paradox," it’s still a division of DC Comics, and DC seems ready to throw its corporate cloud behind publicizing the book when it comes out. They've decided to release it in hardcover as well as softcover, which is a positive sign. …