Selfish as it might be to say this, I feel motivated only now to say something about the deaths of David Bowie and Prince because of the way I based a character on an amalgam of them.
It wasn't them alone, actually. Cioran, the rock-star/troubador/peripatetic/spy from Flight of the Vajra, was one part each of those luminaries and a few other things besides -- a little Elton John, a bit of T.M. Revolution, maybe some Iggy Pop in there for good measure. But it was the Duke and the Prince that seemed to be chief in the amount of influence they had, and that was also because of the androgyny, eroticism, and (literal) sexual mutability of the character.
Cioran came from a world where you were essentially a product, where the chief export was people trained to perform roles that other worlds needed. Every now and then you had a square peg; he was positively octagonal and a size too large besides. And while biologically Cioran was a he (and most definitely hetero in his lusts), he changed up his body to a female form as part of the showmanship, the way Lady Gaga would don a different costume for the encore.
What I took from Bowie and Prince alike was not just the multiple talents (Prince played a dozen-plus instruments) or the omnivorousness of experience. It was the showmanship, the flamboyance, the willingness to simply be a personality and an unstoppable force of nature. It wasn't any one specific thing they did, it was the attitude, the way they made everything into play, the way all they had to do to make life interesting was to walk into a room. I wanted someone like that in this story; hell, the sprawl of the story fairly cried out for someone who could span it in two steps. Modeling him after two of the biggest steppers in modern-day popular culture seemed only like the smart thing to do.
They, and Cioran after him, embodied a life lesson: D.I.Y. if you want things to be better, sexier, livelier, more like the life you want and not the life you get, no one's going to do it for you. Maybe someone else can show you the way, but ultimately, you Do It Yourself.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind