In this new recurring feature, I’ll be spotlighting songs that are currently inspiring me, or feature on the writing playlists of my work.
The history of the city I live in, and the complex dynamics between the LGBTQ+ community and police, is a topic best left to those far more eloquent and well-versed than I. Justin Ling does an admirable job in teasing apart the strands in his book Missing From The Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto’s Queer Community. This article sucked the wind from my lungs as I dug through old notes, memories and documentaries on multiple stories with endings that kept me awake at night, heartbroken and haunted.
We all said it, in one way or another. When out of town friends asked locals why we were insisting they walk in groups to their parked cars after a concert, we replied, “There’s a serial killer in the Village nearby.”
“We haven’t heard about it on the news!” they exclaimed.
“Of course not. The police don’t believe there is one. It’s just more dead queers.”
Exchanges like this lingered as I outlined, sketched out characters, and constructed what would become a playlist to write to. Every mood–fear, sorrow, grief, but also friendship, first love and the joy in finding one’s true self–needed to be carefully curated. One of the first songs that came to mind was an old friend from a beloved album.
Written about family conflict after the death of a beloved gay friend, it had whispered in my head the day a predator was caught. My first language may be English, but my truest one is song. The moment I dragged it into the playlist, I knew it was more than a song capturing the frustration and grief of a protagonist; it was the heartbeat of the story.
This was what I wanted to keep in focus as I set out to craft my story: the dimming of lights, and those left behind, staring at the yellow haze where once they shone bright. And while the story is fiction, the frustration and fear as the sky dims is no less real.
Remember the name Charles. He will, I hope, become as important to you as he is to the inhabitants of the world of Another Light Missing.