The Breedling and the City in the Garden
by Kimberlee Ann Bastian
Absolute obedience, servitude, neutrality.
These were the laws that once governed Bartholomew, an immortal soulcatcher, until one ill-fated night when he was forced to make a choice: rebel against his masters or reveal an ancient, dangerous secret.
He chose defiance.
Imprisoned for centuries as punishment for his decision, Bartholomew wastes away—until he creates an opportunity to escape. By a stroke of chance, Bartholomew finds himself in the human world and soon learns that breaking his bonds does not come without a price. Cut off from the grace that once ruled him, he must discover a new magic in 1930s Chicago.
Armed with only a cryptic message to give him direction, Bartholomew desperately tries to resume the mission he had started so long ago. Relying on the unlikely guidance of the streetwise orphan Charlie Reese, Bartholomew must navigate the depressed streets of the City in the Garden. But in order to solve this riddle, he must first discover if choice and fate are one in the same.
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About the Author
Kimberlee Ann Bastian has a unique love affair with American nostalgia, mythology, and endless possibilities. This melting pot of elements is what prompted the creation of her epic ELEMENT ODYSSEYS series, starting with the reboot of her debut novel now titled THE BREEDLING AND THE CITY IN THE GARDEN.
When she is not in her writer's room, working her current "day job", or consuming other literary worlds, she enjoys hiking and cycling around the bluffs of your Southeastern MN home and catching up on her favorite pop culture.
A Historical Soundtrack
For me, music has always been a big part of my life, so when it came time to add some songs to The Breedling and the City in the Garden, I dug through the archives of the late 1920s and ‘30s. To get started, I first turned to the Grammy award winning soundtrack Oh, Brother Where Art Thou for inspiration. Set during the Depression Era, the film had its pulse on the vintage sound I was looking for and though a handful of the songs are original, I knew my story wouldn’t be complete without the 1928 classic Big Rock Candy Mountains by Harry McClintock. The folk song was an easy start to my soundtrack, but I knew I had to diversify, especially since the story takes place in Chicago.
I knew I needed to highlight the city’s timeless jazz/blues sound, and while on the hunt I discovered Fats Waller. Now, one of Waller’s most famous songs, Honeysuckle Rose, didn’t grab me the first time I heard it and I wasn’t even going to consider it, but what really sold me on Waller was his connection to Chicago. According to the late singer’s biography by Maurice Waller & Anthony Calabrese, Fats Waller was kidnapped while leaving a performance in Chicago in 1926. As the account goes, four men bundled him into a car and took him to the Hawthorne Inn, which was owned by Al Capone. Gun to his back, Waller was pushed towards a piano, and told to play. Terrified, Waller did as asked and later discovered he was the "surprise guest" for Capone's birthday party. But it was not just that night Waller played. According to rumors, Waller actually played for three days, upon which, after the third day, he left very drunk, extremely tired, and had earned thousands of dollars in cash from Capone and other party-goers as tips. With a story like that, Fats Waller had to be a part of my soundtrack and so his comical jazz tune made the cut.
For my next selection, I stumbled on the 1933 song, Stormy Weather. Originally sung and recorded by Ethel Waters at the Cotton Club in Harlem. Notably one of the first African American superstars, Ethel’s promising vocal career took her to the stage as well as motion pictures. I choose the song because of its foreshadowing element for the coming of the Black Blizzard. Later in the book, at the speakeasy, the resident Canary sings an unidentified song accompanied solely be a piano. I couldn’t find a specific song to feature in this scene, at least not one I liked, but I envisioned something closely related to Chicago The Musical’s When Your Good to Mama. The additional song the Canary sings in the speakeasy is the haunting Undertaker Blues by Rosa Henderson with The Kansas City Five. Oddly enough I came across the song on a 1920-1930s Halloween playlist just within the last rewrite of the novel. I couldn’t find any history on the song itself, but after listening to it a few times and reading through the lyrics, I knew I needed to feature it in the story.
The two instrumental songs that exist in the book are both played on a single harmonica. The mouth organ or blue’s harp as it is sometimes known, became a character all its own, weaving a tune a regret, wickedness, and a lullaby throughout the story. The first one is the Snake Charmer’s Theme, played by Hades and the other is Jimmy’s Song, played by Charlie and Bartholomew. Both of these songs exist only in my head at the moment as I don’t actually play the harmonica. However, to get an idea of what the haunting sound of Hades’ tune would sound like I gathered inspiration from composer Ennio Morricone’s score The Man with the Harmonica from the film Once Upon a Time in the West, although image it without the added orchestra. For Jimmy’s Song, it is completely an original piece that features the harmonica as a soothing instrument, singing a somber lullaby, and unfortunately has no compatible comparison.