Music Inspirations – part 5

Music InspirationsIt’s been quite a while since I’ve last posted my music inspirations, even though my Spotify writing playlist now boasts an awesome 15 hours worth of music. Mostly, because I rarely search for songs that would reflect specific scenes. Instead, I either listen to my playlist in a shuffle mode or pick a song that keeps me focused and motivated.
Still, some songs come up and seem to be fitting perfectly to scenes or plots I’m writing and I tend to put those songs in a loop until I’m done, and these four songs stuck with me.

Clannad – Suil a Ruin
When I was writing “Humanborn”, my urban fantasy set in Dublin, I needed some sort of a traditional rhyme for one of the characters to chant, but nothing seemed to fit. Then a song I used to love came to my mind: Clannad’s interpretation of the traditional love song and it was a perfect match in an instant.
Even though the scenes I needed it for are not relate to romance, but lead up to the discovery of a dark secret and final confrontation between the main character and the enemy she didn’t expect to be there.

Envane – Just Do It
Even though I don’t start writing without knowing where I’m going (that includes at least a general idea about the ending), I still have some space for unexpected developments, side plots, and additional scenes: most of them come during writing and seem to either fit perfectly, offering some depth to the story and the characters, or are a result of my trying to fix some unexpected plot hole.
When I was writing “Humanborn”, I needed a scene to show Kaja’s (the main character of the story) learning of her former enemies she was forced to work with, and a I remembered a bit of the worldbuilding that I didn’t put in the book because it didn’t seem to fit so far: banshees. The idea for a banshee hunt came soon after, and I managed to seamlessly glue it to the rest of the story, as if it was meant to be there from a start. But to write it, I needed some energetic music, to match my excitement about the scenes I was about to write. Envane’s composition popped out of nowhere and was a match as good as the plot idea.
As it turns out, it’s also a great background for when I edit.

G’jan – Not Afraid
Not so long ago I’ve mentioned the science-fiction romance I wrote for fun. As martial prowess is something valued by the alien species, Moira, the main character, has to prove her worth through training and fighting. Used to carrying firearms and being at a physical disadvantage, Moira’s odds in those duels aren’t great, but she’s determined to win.
I found “Not Afraid”, which isn’t the kind of music I usually listen to, while browsing through Youtube and searching for some energetic and upbeat workout music. I like the rhythm of this one, and even though the lyrics aren’t a match to the story, the title fit in perfectly, and I ended up writing all my fight scenes to this song.

Stephen J. Anderson – Turn My Crimson into White
Even though there’s a lot of training and fighting in that sci-fi romance (of course, their amount might change when I get around to revisions), there are also scenes of doubt and fear. When Moira is stranded on a desolate planet with an enemy, she learns to trust him as their survival depends on their cooperation, but when they finally leave the planet, all the promises of friendship might be crushed by the reality of two species being at war. Moira wants to keep trusting Ly’oney, but the events that come push that trust to its limits.
I don’t even remember how Turn My Crimson into White ended up on my writing playlist – one day it was there and matched the mood of the scene I was writing with a surprising perfection, and I ended up listening to this song many times before I’ve finished that novel (and many times later, but that’s another story).

If you have any song you find inspiring, feel free to share it with me. I’m always on the lookout for new music.

This post is a part of my Music Inspirations series – feel free to check other songs that inspired me to write.

Joanna Maciejewska

Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games. Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English. Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. saraletourneau

    I’ve actually heard Suil a Ruin, but by a different artist. Leah (last name is McHenry, but her first name is her stage name) recorded two versions of the song: one with an acoustic / world music slant, and the other with a slight metal edge (sort of like a power ballad, but not quite). Both versions should be up on YouTube, if you’re interested.

    I tend to listen to instrumentals when I write. (Though when I created my playlist for my current novel, I picked mostly non-instrumentals that reminded me of certain scenes, characters, or moods / emotions.) So when I’ve worked on my novel, I listened to film scores like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2. But for a totally unrelated short story I started writing a couple months ago, I put “Skyrim Atmospheres” from the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim soundtrack on repeat. I’m not a gamer, but gosh do I love the music from that game.

    1. melfka

      Thank you for sharing, Sara! I love listening to various interpretations of the same song and check how different artists when about it. Years ago I used to “collect” versions of “Foggy Dew” – since it’s a Irish uprising song, there are so many versions of it. My favorite one is by Sinead O’Connor and the Chieftains (really can press tears out of one’s eyes).
      I’m with you on the instrumentals – most of my writing playlist consist of them and I have some movie soundtracks too, though not the ones you mention (I do have “I See Fire” in an orchestra version). I guess I should listen to them and check if I’m missing something. 🙂
      And I agree again, Skyrim’s music is epic (though I’d probably say the same about Morrowind, an earlier game in the series).

      1. saraletourneau

        “I love listening to various interpretations of the same song and check how different artists when about it.”

        Same here. I’m a fan of a German string quartet called Eklipse, and all of their songs are covers of pop classics, hard rock, or indie pop/rock songs, as well as a few film score picks. Their first album features a rendition of Linkin Park’s “In The End,” and it’s more somber than the original (and quite beautiful, too).

        I’ve heard of Morrowind, but haven’t checked out its score yet. Will make a point to do that, especially since (I think?) it’s by the same composer.

  2. sjhigbee

    This is a lovely selection – I particularly love the last song – it’s beautiful and uplifting and I’ll probably be adding it to my playlist. I’ve got several Clannard albums, but I don’t have that particular song – again one I’ll probably add:). Thank you for sharing.

    1. melfka

      I’m glad you found something you like, Sarah! 🙂

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