The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #174: Musical Interlude – The Thirteenth Hour Theme in Piano Part 2

Episode #174: Musical Interlude – The Thirteenth Hour Theme in Piano Part 2

Way back in episode 130, I took one part of the main Thirteenth Hour theme and created a short electric guitar part to accompany an introspective part of the book, and two weeks ago, I took the first verse of the theme and made it a slow guitar part.  Last week was a variation on those episodes where I took the same theme and reworked it on the piano to be even slower.  This week is very similar, though it’s become kind of an exercise in minimalism – how many notes can I eliminate and still retain the essence of the theme’s melody?  In addition, I’ve been making the tempo slower and slower to fit better with the introspective mood I imagine this track will eventually fit (I’m picturing a contemplative scene in one of The Thirteenth Hour stories, where one of the main characters is lonely or contemplates something weighty, like the state of the world, their place in the universe, etc).  You can see little clips on the soundtrack IG page as well as this podcast’s FB page.  Next week, I’ll have a better idea what the final thing will look like, and we’ll probably add the backing layer to give it more depth.

In this episode, I include two excerpts from instrumental tracks I was using as inspiration: “A Private Showing” by Stephen Hague and John Musser (from Some Kind of Wonderful, discussed in episode 154), and “Tommib” by Squarepusher (from Lost in Translation).

The track entitled “A Private Showing” scores the art museum scene above.  It is found at around 6:29 in the first clip.

“Tommib” plays during this scene in Lost in Translation where the lonely main character, a neglected young wife accompanying her husband on a working trip to Japan, contemplates the state of her life (I guess) while the track fills in the gaps.  Check out this page for more information on how the track may have been created,


Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!


The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #154: Reflections on Rewatching Some Kind of Wonderful

Episode #154: Reflections on Rewatching Some Kind of Wonderful

This week, I decided to take on one of my all time favorite movies, Some Kind of Wonderful.  I’d been awhile since I watched the whole thing, start to finish, and given that I’ve done a bunch of these retrospective rewatchings over the last few years for this show, I’ve mostly gotten over the worry that I’ll tarnish a rose-colored, nostalgic view of a film I enjoyed as a kid when looked at through adult eyes.  In many cases, like this one, my views are somewhat different, but thus far, the basic elements that drew me to films such as these years ago have not changed much despite the years in between.

Of all the 80s teen movies, for some reason, this one was always my favorite.  In some ways, it ironically also feels like the most grown-up of John Hughes’ 80s teen movies, and from what I’ve read, was his last one of this type. Most people know of The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink, but for some reason, this one is not quite as well known.  It does sound like it quite difficult to write, and the backstory behind the making of the film is quite interesting to read if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

I identified with the main character, Keith, as a teenager and remember thinking it would be great (and probably too good to be true) if your best friend also turned out to be your significant other.  (I’m guessing a lot of guys can identify with that wish, especially if it all happens without you having to, you know, do actual work.)  I loved the way Keith and Watts bantered back and forth, and it’s probably one of the main reasons why the main characters in The Thirteenth Hour, Logan and Aurora, not only have a similar relationship but come to understand their love for each other in much the same way Keith and Watts do in the movie.

Rewatching it years later, the basic charm of these two still holds, but I found myself appreciating the other characters in the film much more.  Perhaps even more than Keith and Watts.  All in all, I thought Keith’s father, played by John Ashton, was actually a pretty good guy and, in the end, supported his son in the way we can all only hope to support our own children (i.e. the most difficult way – even if we don’t like or agree with what they are doing, we still believe in them, to paraphrase what Keith tells his father.)  I found myself siding a bit more with his father this time around.  I know, I know.  But just a bit.  I found myself wanting to take Keith aside and give him the low-down – forget about high school drama – no one is going to remember or care in ten years.  Don’t blow your college fund on a single date for a girl who you don’t really know and probably won’t appreciate it.  Not fair to you.  Not fair to put that kind of pressure on her.  And, you know, hate to say it, but your old man’s onto something.  He wants you to go to college, I get it.  Make him happy.  He ain’t gonna live forever.  He doesn’t want to be worrying about you when he retires.  So pick a school in a place you can tolerate.  But by all means, pick one that has a good fine arts program so you have the option to major in that if you like.  Once you’re in college, it doesn’t matter!  So few people actually use their college degrees for their actual work, anyway!  Alas, I’m not sure anyone gave Keith this talk (not sure if it would have done much good – what 17 year old wants to hear this kind of stuff?).  But his Dad came sort of close.

john-ashton-some-kind-of-wonderful-photo-GC   John Ashton as Cliff Nelson

I always liked the unlikely pals that Keith meets in morning detention, Duncan and his gang, but appreciated the comic relief Duncan brought to the film much more this time around.  Elias Koteas, who plays Duncan (below), sort of reprises the role as Casey Jones in the first live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film a few years later (1990).


I love the scene where Keith walks into detention, expecting Amanda, only to be greeting by a bunch of dudes in motorcycle jackets and shades.  The guy above randomly rips a book in half, a scene that still cracks me up to this day.


Two artists bonding over their works of art – Duncan’s is a vandalized school desk (scratched with a pocket knife) and Keith’s is in his sketchpad (I don’t think we ever see it – probably a picture of Amanda Jones).  Another great short scene.  Duncan, of course, has to break the desk in order to show it to Keith 🙂

img_4212Lea Thompson as Amanda Jones

Speaking of Amanda, I always liked the way the Amanda Jones character was a bit more three dimensional than just phoning it in for her looks, but I liked her a lot more this time around.  She’s no angel, of course – she cuts class and then weasels her way out of detention by sweet talking the driver’s ed teacher and clearly doesn’t have the best taste in friends or boyfriends.  But, hey, no one’s perfect.  She’s portrayed as a human being, flaws and all, and one of the nice things is that she grows.  You get to see her change course at the end of the film, when she decides to learn to make friends and find significant others who like her for who she is, not for who she’s with – a great lesson that everyone needs to learn in some capacity at some point.  Unfortunately, there traditionally aren’t as many of these roles for women – the kinds where it’s seen as a positive for her to stand on her own two feet even if it means outwardly losing face in the eyes of school (mirroring the eyes of society).  This article hints that Lea Thompson pushed for more three dimensionality in her character than the script originally intended.

Speaking of which, this site is a great resource for all kinds of trivia regarding the film, including a copy of the script.  There’s also whole music section.  I mentioned on the @the13thhr.ost instagram page how much I’ve enjoyed the soundtrack over the years, though unfortunately, it really should be a two disc set since there are lots of good songs and instrumental parts not found on the album.   The synth instrumentals were done by Stephen Hague and John Musser, which you can find here as isolated tracks.  Thanks to fans, here’s an instrumental compilation of the score:

The song playing when Amanda and Keith head up to Hardy’s house is Charlie Sexton’s “Beat’s So Lonely,” a great 80s track, also not on the official soundtrack, but a great high note to end on.  Stay tuned for more 80s films as the summer progresses!


Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!





The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #148: Fairy Tales Aren’t Just For Kids

Episode #148: Fairy Tales Aren’t Just For Kids – A TED-Style Talk for Former Kids on Creativity, the Transition to Adulthood, and What Gets Lost in Between

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to give a short talk at Mondragon Books, an independent used bookstore in central PA.  They were kind enough to offer to carry some of my books and music and have been trying to have more author related events at their store.   The thing about a lot of author events, though, is that they’ve always seemed pretty self indulgent.  Sure, of course you’re interested in what you do, but in my opinion, inviting people to listen to you talk about yourself has always seemed like a snooze fest, so I decided to talk about something everyone grapples with sooner or later – the the transition to adulthood and the inevitable changes that entails in regards to the pursuit of creativity.   This episode is a version of that talk.

From a creative perspective, childhood is often ripe with opportunities to express oneself creatively.  Unfortunately, as we get older, those opportunities gradually narrow unless we actively choose a creatively-minded career or specifically make time for them.  Often, the message we are given is that we’ll never make a living doing something creative, so if we really want to do those things, we can do them “in our spare time,” as Keith, the teenage protagonist from the 1987 John Hughes-penned movie, Some Kind of Wonderful, hears from his father.

So my hope is that this talk will get people thinking and inspire them to reclaim these lost aspects of childhood if they so desire.  I use the analogy of fairy tales, since they’re stories that we typically associate with childhood, but, in actuality, have a lot of lessons that adults can benefit from, too.   For example, fairy tales often have happy endings, which help us believe in a better tomorrow.  Fairy tales also tend to invoke the hero / heroine’s journey, which reminds us that big dreams often require some level of personal sacrifice and persistence in order to accomplish.  All of these things are great to keep in mind when it comes to giving voice to our own creativity, especially amid the hard, mundane realities of day-to-day adult life.

Sometimes talks of this nature are mostly theory, given by folks who are no longer in the position to juggle various commitments.  But I can say that it’s something I basically took from my own life and put into a short talk.  As someone who spends a good majority of his time juggling between being a husband, a father to small children, and maintaining a busy day job, making time for the creative aspects of my life is a constant challenge. You see the results here, but it requires a daily commitment to feed the muse.

I wrote this little essay back in 2015, not long after the birth of my daughter, when I initially (mistakenly) assumed that staying home to take care of her would allow me more time to write (nope … though it did require me to take advantage of every spare minute I had – something I continue to use today).

When I was twelve, I wanted nothing more than a Swiss Army knife. My father had one, and I used to marvel at all the tools that fit in the compact package. Years later, I still marvel at its attempt to “do it all.” But sometimes, a stand-alone knife or can opener just does the job better.

So when I told colleagues that, over the next year, I wouldn’t be working much, instead devoting the majority of my time to caring for our newborn daughter, deep down, I wondered if I’d end “Swiss Army knifing” it. People had mostly supportive words. Of course, there were some puzzled looks and occasional sarcastic or condescending comments, but what I didn’t expect were the rare, wistful silences (generally left by men), followed by, “I wish I’d taken more time to do that.”

Time, that ephemeral commodity. Before the baby came along, I joked with my wife about what I’d do if I were a stay-at-home husband. I’d water the plants. I’d do aerobics in front of the TV like it were 1982. And I’d finally have time to write.

It wasn’t all jest. Even after the baby came and all evidence suggested otherwise, I still maintained the delusion that when the baby slept, I’d really, truly have time to write. And so it was – except those stretches of quiet lasted a total of forty to sixty minutes a day if I were lucky. Amid all the baby and home related tasks, writing was the last on the list. On the days I worked, I’d go in after my wife and I had done the baby handoff and finish in the wee hours of the morning, so zero writing got done those days. And when the baby woke up in the middle of the night, or at least by at five or six the next morning, I was reminded why my mother was always tired.

Single parents have now assumed epic status in my mind. I’m lucky that my wife takes over in the evening. But despite everything, I look forward to each new day. Seeing my daughter’s smile, her waddling, ataxic steps, and the first gleams of mischief in her eyes make up for the times poo plopped out of the diaper and landed on the floor instead of in the toilet. I understand why those men said they wished they could’ve had more time to watch their children grow. Because I wish for the same. No time is ever enough.

Those naps did eventually add up over a year. I coalesced some of these thoughts into a poem and reworked pictures from one of my novels to create a little book for my daughter, which I’ll give to her this Christmas. I’m sure one of the first things she’ll do is take a bite out of the pages. And I’d like nothing more than to be right there to see her do it.

Thanks to Mondragon Books for hosting me.  Check them out if you happen to be in the central PA area or on Facebook or Instagram.


Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!


The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #28: 80s Movies Part 2 – Teen Movies

Episode #28: 80s Teen Movies, Author Coreena McBurnie Reading

Man, this was a super long episode.  I guess I got carried away talking about the 80s teen movies 🙂  Anyway, these were all influences, one way or another, for The Thirteenth Hour and the themes running through the book (i.e. figuring yourself out while straddling the line between childhood and adulthood, then trying to find your way in a seemingly inhospitable world).

-More on the writer of many of these films, the late, great John Hughes, as remembered by a teenage penpal he kept correspondence with for a number of years.

-Movies discussed (that link to Youtube clips):

Sixteen Candles 

-always loved the song at the end (done by The Thompson Twins)

The Breakfast Club

great scene – Bender falls through the ceiling – cracks me up every time!

Some Kind of Wonderful

-Ahh, first kisses.  Something special about them, especially when it’s with a longtime friend.

-As an aside, the John Hughes film Pretty in Pink was similar in some ways, but the genders were switched and had a great ending song by OMD.

Real Genius

-The great ending song by Tears for Fears

-Speaking of ending songs, The Thirteenth Hour is getting its own 80s-style ending song soon!  Details to come.  Watch for it on the soundtrack page on bandcamp!

-Ever want to learn to throw playing cards?  Now you can learn to throw like Logan from The Thirteenth Hour with, well, a handmade Thirteenth Hour throwing card kit.  Available on eBay.

Kelly St. Clare, who recently wrote a post here about her experiences with the social media crowd blasting site Thunderclap, has been kind enough to host a raffle for free copies of The Thirteenth Hour on her site starting 2/22 (today)!

-Guest reading by historical fantasy author Coreena McBurnie from Prophecy, a novel about Antigone, from the Greek myth Oedipus Rex.  Welcome to the podcast and thank you for sharing a segment of your work!


-Starving Artist section: make some passive $$ by watching videos on your phone (yo udon’t have to watch ’em!) – Checkpoints

As always, thanks for listening!



Writing the Main Characters

My brother once asked me if the characters in The Thirteenth Hour were based on myself. I don’t think so, at least not on purpose. I suppose every writer injects some of himself in the characters that he creates, but I didn’t set out to do this consciously, although I no doubt suspect that there were plenty of unconscious contributions.

The character of Logan was somebody I envisioned as being unassuming and initially kind of naive, not yet possessing the confidence that comes from having more experience in life. Despite losing his parents at a young age, I want to portray the rest of his childhood in as secure a way as possible. I think there’s sometimes a stereotype to portray institutions like orphanages as evil, bureaucratic places that are understaffed, underfunded, and poorly run. And while there are no doubt some places like that, I wanted to paint a better picture for Logan’s childhood environment in order to give him the kind of consistent, safe, caring support that I thought he’d need to equip him for the challenges that he would face in the story. I also wanted him to be someone that spoke to the reader in an honest, sometimes irreverent way, kind of like an adult who’s looking back on his life but has a good idea what it still is like to be a kid (although I didn’t specifically think of it at the time, the narrators from The Wonder Years, Stand By Me, and The Christmas Story do this quite well). I thought it important that he not take himself too seriously, because let’s face it, there are a lot of lousy, humiliating things that happen to everyone when they’re kids that seem a lot funnier years later.

If you’ve read the book, you know that the Logan narrates the majority of the story interspersed by sections told by Aurora. She was not based on anyone in particular, but rather a compilation of characteristics that I thought would make her an interesting independent character yet a good friend and partner to Logan. The creation of young adult female characters has always seemed a bit more loaded than the creation of their male counterparts. I’ve often gotten the impression that some authors write their female characters with some kind of agenda in mind; instead of it just being a story about a human that happens to be female, it’s a story about a woman who is strong, or a woman who is not strong, or a woman who is not strong and becomes strong, or … whatever! While I wanted her to be able to stand on her own two feet, I didn’t want it to be for some kind of feminist or politically correct agenda; I just thought that would be the most realistic way of depicting her given what she has to go through in the story.

Like Logan, Aurora spends much of the book trying to figure out the world around her while navigating the challenges of young adulthood – namely figuring oneself out and finding love. This is, of course, something that all teenagers go through. It was this awkward mix of yearning, anticipation, and reckless abandon that I hoped to capture. Unfortunately, it took me about sixteen years to finally get it to where I was satisfied with it, but that, to me, was more important than any of the adventure parts of the story.

There are a few writers out there I’m aware of that have captured the world of the adolescent well – novelist Cynthia Voigt (Homecoming, A Solitary Blue, Jackaroo) and screenwriter John Hughes (Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful) come to mind – and it strikes me now that one of the most critical things you can do for a teenager is let him or her know that – hey, you know what, there’s someone out there who gets you, who remembers how lousy it can be, and despite all the eye rolling and grunts you might give, is going to hold you to a higher standard and isn’t going to talk to you like you’re a three year old while doing it. Of course, I didn’t understand or care about any of that then; I wrote the first draft of The Thirteenth Hour when I was a teenager. But the nice thing about having written the story when I did was that it gave both me and the characters time and space to grow. It often seemed that as got older, I got to know them better and better. I might even go so far as to say that we all kind of grew up together. So in many ways, The Thirteenth Hour is less about the physical journey that the characters take and more about the journey they take from children to adults.





-Book Trailer:

-Free itunes podcast of the book:

-Read free excerpts at and the book’s amazon site.