Music Magic: The Songs That Inspired War Witch (Part 6) – “Shut Up And Kiss Me” Orianthi

This week in my little ongoing series, I’m talking about the only time I went looking for a song that fit a character, rather than happening across one that made a character more clear to me.

It’s kind of fitting that this should be a unique circumstance, what with the character I’m focusing on being Izra, who wasn’t even suppose to be an important character to begin with. Nothing where this woman is concerned went according to plan.

You’d think I’d be use to that, but no. Izra developing into a main character took me totally by surprise.

First off, let me say that as a character, Izra was meant to fill a certain role in the story. Those who have read the book will already know what it is, but those who haven’t, won’t, so pardon me while I explain.

In the drafts that came before the one that got accepted, Ramora, Chara and Esteban travel to the nation of Lansing, and learn that the King there, Untar Fel, is gathering other Blessed to form a team that can find and defeat the villain of the story, a Dark Blessed named Draco. That team was never detailed or shown until the new draft, just mentioned.

It was one of the things I realized really needed to be changed. So, when I set to work tackling the changes I knew the story needed, I sketched out a team of Blessed for them to meet and interact with. I didn’t give them a lot of backstory or detail, just a couple sentences that would let me keep them distinct from each other.

One of those character was Izra.

For the most part, my goal was not just to address a failure in the original drafts, but to give the characters someone to interact with besides each other. They all served their purpose very nicely, too, except Izra, who was having none of that minor secondary character nonsense.

One of my great joys as a writer is the way I write. I develop a framework of events, things I know need to happen, and do some basic character outlines. The rest, I just sort of make up as I go. From time to time, this means my characters don’t always play by the rules that exist only in my head.

All of this is a round about way of me admitting that I sometimes get into fights with my characters. Fights they almost always win. Izra is a prime example of this.

Her place in the story was to be a perky, happy go lucky type that kept too many of the people we meet along the way from being dark or grim. She ran with this concept in ways I never expected.

Not just perky, she turned out to be flirty, funny, energetic and a complete extrovert. She wasn’t just happy go lucky, she was friendly, warm, and enthusiastic about the little things in life. Given half a chance to go shopping on someone else’s dime, she ran with it in complete giddy joy.

Most of all, she ended up being more than an another person for the characters to interact with, she became someone they trusted, relied on, and gained insight into themselves and the others from.

When the time came for the secondary characters to leave the stage, Izra refused. Vehemently. To my surprise, I wasn’t ready for her to go, either, and changed my plans, letting her not just live, but join the cast as they set out on the next leg of their journey.

This means I’ve got even more changes to make to the next book, by the way, as there is now someone who wasn’t there before. That’s a whole different problem, though.

Once that choice was made, I revisited what I’d written at that point and began expanded her role, developing her character even further. In the process, I set about finding a piece of music that spoke to her as a character, not just as I’d originally conceived her, but that spoke to where I wanted to see her go.

As I was listening to various songs, I happened across a thing with Carlos Santana, a favorite musician of mine, talking about a young woman he’d helped. Orianthi, he said, was someone people needed to hear. I’m not one to argue with Carlos Santana, so off I went, and right away, heard a song that as everything I could hope for.

Even in the very title, there is something that speaks to Izra as a character. Shut up and kiss me is something she would absolutely say, without a doubt. It’s totally in character for her. Even the feel of the song, this happy, charming, upbeat melody fit her personality, speaking to her outlook on life. She is, in every way, an adventurous, warm, goofy, and fun person.

You’re too loud, I’m so hyper
On paper we’re a disaster
And I’m driving you crazy
It’s my little game

The very first lyrics of the song nail her too well. She is a hyper extrovert that shouldn’t work well with the more serious minded characters she is interacting with, yet does. Even when she drives especially Ramora nuts by encouraging Chara to embrace her adventurous side. While she doesn’t see her duties as a Blessed as a game, most everything else in life is. A fun game she loves with every fiber of her being.

Go ahead now, admit it
You like your world with me in it
Like a record, it’s broken
Yeah, I’m a bump you’ll never get over

Ah, this was really the thing that hit it. As I have said a couple times now, Izra is very much an extrovert. The kind of person that walks into your life and seems to fit as if they have always been there, and knows it. It’s her nature to befriend pretty much everyone she meets. She’s the kind of person you like knowing is in the world, the kind you can fall in love with, and never really get over.

Most of all, it’s just the sheer feel of the song. This ballsy attitude, this certainty, this knowing others adore you and want to be around you. That’s Izra, through and through.

She’s my character and still managed to take me by surprise, creep into my heart, and when the time came, I couldn’t bear to part with her. She knew it, too, because that’s just how it’s suppose to be. Cause she’s Izra.

While this is my last character song, I’ve got a few others that play to certain aspects of the book, and I’ll start with the first of those next week when I look at the song that helped shape the first part of the story.

See ya then!


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