The latest in a series about influences from Kenton’s earlier days:

Many–probably most–writers listen to music as they work, but for me, it’s more than background noise. Some musicians, some songs inspire me when I’m writing, and that’s especially true for my latest project, This Wasted Land, a young adult dark fantasy novel that will be published in early 2018.

My favorite band is Led Zeppelinthe premier group of the 1970’s. With guitarist Jimmy Page, vocalist Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham, Zeppelin was a perfect example of the whole being more than the sum of its parts, so much so that when Bonham died in 1980, the group disbanded rather than attempt to replace him.

Even if you’re not a fan of classic hard rock, you have surely heard–perhaps more times than you’ve cared to–their magnum opus “Stairway to Heaven,” which Rolling Stone magazine listed as #31 on its list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” (not bad for a band that RS hated during Zep’s heyday).

But while people may automatically think of the over-played “Stairway” when they hear the name of the band, it doesn’t epitomize what Zeppelin was. Led Zep’s music evolved from their early years of blues-rock (the albums LZ I and II), to quasi-folk music (LZ IIIand the untitled fourth album); to what I call their “epic” sound of the albums Houses of the HolyPhysical Graffitithe challenging but underappreciated Presence, and In Through The Out Door.

It’s those “epic” albums that I most favor. To be sure, not every song has inspired me–“The Crunge” and “Hot Dog” are just goofy fun–but many of the others have. There’s a grandeur to them, a vastness of scale, a dizzying intricacy, and a permeating “light and shade,” as Jimmy Page referred to it.

There’s also a tremendous intensity of emotions–love, joy, hope, pain, anger, remorse–that the music and vocals convey and evoke, that reach deeply into me even as I listen to these songs for what seems to be the thousandth time. I flip past “Whole Lotta Love” when its comes on my car radio; I am riveted by “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”

I hope to harness and bring that emotional firepower to This Wasted Land. Almost 30 years ago, when I first conceived of the story, Zeppelin’s music was the soundtrack in my head:

All I see turns to brown

As the sun burns the ground

And my eyes fill with sand

As I scan this wasted land

“Kashmir” provides the title for my next novel, but it’s not the first time I’ve gone to that well.  “Traveller of both time and space” is part of another line from the song, and it’s the title of a piece of fan fiction I wrote for my Warhammer 40K gaming website, the Jungle.

Listening to “Kashmir,” I imagine Alyx, my feisty teenage heroine of TWL, crossing endless gray wastes, evading or battling monsters, as she pursues the shapeshifting witch Freydis, who has abducted her boyfriend, Sam, and brought him to the nightmare realm of Lonelylands, ruled by Oth, Freydis’ merciless master.

And it’s another Zeppelin song that makes me think of Freydis in all her cruelty, and pain, and want:

In the evening

When the day is done

I’m looking for my woman

Oh, but the girl won’t come

So don’t let her

Play you for no fool

She don’t show no pity, baby

She don’t make no rules

“In the Evening,” with its unearthly intro, phantasmal guitar solo, and Plant’s wrenching wails, is my favorite Zeppelin song. It’s especially relevant to This Wasted Land (I can say no more lest I give too much away), but I like it so much that a chapter in each of my other novels–Dragontamer’s Daughters, and Lost Dogs,–is named after it.

Oh, I need your love

Oh, I need your love

Ooh, yeah, I need your love

I’ve got to have

I’ve got to have

After the band broke up, Robert Plant embarked on a distinguished solo career that continues to this day (his latest album, Carry Fire, will debut on October 13, 2017). I became a huge fan, and like with Zeppelin, his solo work inspired me as well. More on that–and on TWL–some other time.


Lest I am misconstrued, I do think highly of Zep’s earlier work, particularly:

…and, of course, “Immigrant Song,” most recently–and appropriately–used for the teaser trailer to the upcoming film Thor: Ragnarok.  As a huge fan of Zep and Thor, you can bet your last dollar that I’ll be there on opening night.

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy. His latest work-in-progress, This Wasted Land, a dark fantasy novel, will be published in 2018.

Kenton is the author of Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. He also wrote Dragontamer’s Daughters, (like Little House on the Prairie…with dragons) based on Navajo culture and belief. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.

Don’t miss the latest! Sign up for my mailing list, and you’ll know about blog posts, sneak peeks, upcoming releases, sales, special offers, and more as soon as they appear. I will honor your privacy and never spam you or sell your information. And you can, of course, unsubscribe any time.  New directions in YA sci-fi and fantasy
MUSIC, Pop Culture, TRAVEL


Paris. London. Dublin. Barcelona. New York. We could have gone to any of the world’s great cities to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We chose Cleveland, and let me tell you Cleveland Rocks! The city was friendly. The food was great. And The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a must-see for music fans of every generation and taste.


Scan0008 (2)

see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at this link:

20170819_093829 - Copy

The story that’s told by a visit to the Hall of Fame starts off with Rock and Roll’s roots in the Country, Gospel, and Blues of the early 20th Century. Furry Lewis was a 1920’s Memphis bluesman who reemerged in the 1960’s during the Blues Revival advanced by the popularity of such blue-based bands like The Rolling Stones, who Furry later opened for twice, and included such other musical luminaries as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker.3 - Copy

Elvis Presley was the bridge between the old ways and the new, and the template for all rock and roll stars of the future. An American original, influenced by all of the Southern culture that surrounded him, Elvis combined the currencies of his time – the rise of mass media, changing race relations, and an yearning to break from conformity – and became something no one else had ever really become before. Elvis Presley was one of the first famous people to not really need a last name. There was only one of him. Elvis was, of course, a first year inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.4 - Copy

20170819_095623 - Copy20170819_100012 - Copy

In an exhibit featuring the Radio Deejays who brought the new sounds of the 1950’s to the world, there’s a small tribute to Buddy Deane. The Buddy Deane Show was a teen dance show similar to American Bandstand broadcast on Baltimore, Maryland’s WJZ-TV from 1957 until 1964. The racial integration story-line of The Corny Collins’ Show in Baltimorean John Water’s Hairspray  is based on Deane’s trailblazing music program.6 - CopyBuddy-Deane1


Collections of memorabilia at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame spotlight items from such trendsetters as Motown and the English Invasion of the 1960s:20170819_102339 - Copy20170819_102448 - CopyIncluding the flip sides of the lovable/dangerous Rock and Roll coin, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones:9 - Copy20170819_101146 - Copy

20170819_104602 - Copy20170819_104801 - Copy

Other displays of pioneers from the Viet Nam – Civil Rights era of music include Jimi Hendrix and Led Zepplin:20170819_104845 - Copy20170819_104443 - Copy

New musical genres, like Punk and Rap, that challenge the status quo are well – represented at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As to any controversy as to whether hip-hop should be included, Ice Cube best summed it up when N.W.A. was inducted in 2016:

“Now, the question is, are we rock and roll? And I say to you goddamn right we rock and roll. Rock and roll is not an instrument, rock and roll is not even a style of music. Rock and roll is a spirit. It’s a spirit. It’s been going since the blues, jazz, bebop, soul, R&B, rock and roll, heavy metal, punk rock and yes, hip-hop. And what connects us all is that spirit. That’s what connects us all, that spirit. Rock and roll is not conforming to the people who came before you, but creating your own path in music and in life.

“That is rock and roll, and that is us.

“So rock and roll is not conforming. Rock and roll is outside the box. And rock and roll is N.W.A. I want to thank everybody who helped induct us into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I just want to tell the world, “Damn, that shit was dope.”

20170819_11165020170819_103933 - Copy11 - Copy

Tributes to the greats are located throughout the museum:8 - Copy20170819_105558 - Copy20170819_105821

One of the most intriguing collections are the various stage costumes from Hall inductees:20170819_105610 - Copy20170819_105653 - Copy22 - Copy20170819_105839 (1)20170819_11001420170819_11131720170819_105413 - Copy

2017 Hall of Fame inductees include: Joan Baez, Pearl Jam, Nile Rodgers, Tupac Shakur, Journey, and Electric Light Orchestra, and each artist or band currently has a featured exhibit running.



Another cool exhibit features modern artists of every musical genre:00000rhrn-2017_6heroStage gear from Kesha, Bruno Mars, The Black Keys, & Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” outfitbuddy


Another current exhibit features artifacts from one particular long lost era including psychedelic concert posters, art, instruments, and the sound board Jimi Hendrix used that summer of 1967. 5 - Copy01

A favorite part of our visit was the Rolling Stone Magazine’s 50th Anniversary exhibit. There is a recreation of the counter culture periodical’s early San Francisco office space, and displays of the beautiful art and photographs that have graced the magazine’s pages, along with important issues of the day Rolling Stone has addressed over the decades, as well as explorations into Rolling Stone’s impact on both the creators and consumers of pop culture, but the crowning glory is the massive cover gallery located way up there on the museum’s top floor. The cover of The Rolling Stone is a who’s who of the important touchstone personalities of each generation that has come along since in its inception.23 - Copy

Rolling Stone Magazine Cover Gallery:20170819_12332120170819_12321320170819_12313420170819_12374656 - Copy44 - Copy33 - Copy


As part of our visit to Cleveland, we caught one of the best rock concerts we’ve ever attended. 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Green Day provided two+ hours of a massively entertaining high-energy sing-along-with-the-hits and how-about-dem-deep cuts show, plus a medley of covers that included Shout, Satisfaction, and Hey Jude. They pulled three fans  up on stage at different times, including a 13-year old guitar player named Noah, who owned his moment in the spotlight like a boss and got himself a signed guitar to prove it. One local newspaper review said the venue should either cancel all upcoming shows or just face the fact that the show of the year has already happened.

Any fan of Rock and Roll should take any opportunity ever offered to see Green Day live.

Most of the photos below are courtesy of the fan pics attached to The Cleveland Plain Dealer article about the Green Day Concert at Ohio’s Blossom Music Center on 08/21/17.


08^1003501819 green040317S.JPGza2489d0d1b50c7c70000 - Copy0 - Copy00 - Copy555 - Copy444 - Copy

123 - Copy

20170819_105747 - CopyHandwritten lyrics to Life’s Been Good by Joe Walsh at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame2 - Copy