by Joanna Fay
Some writers function best with complete silence while creating characters and shaping their prose. I am at the other end of the spectrum, and play music in the background through almost the whole process of writing, from creative first drafting through to editing. Sometimes, I use music to relax or help focus into ‘the zone’, but there are two areas in which I use pieces of music very specifically: for creating mood – tension, peace, happiness, sadness, wonder etc – and for ‘setting’ the personality of a character. Often, I will find a piece of music or song that fits a particular character, and it becomes their ‘signature tune’. This can be invaluable if I haven’t written a character for a while…put their song on, and they come straight back to life!
Here are the Top 10 mainstays that accompanied the writing of my newly released novel Reunion: The Siaris Quartet Book Two. Some of them are still with me, travelling along with Book Three:
1) "Paradise" by Coldplay is the favourite song for Riana, lead female character in Reunion. The combination of wistfulness, heartfelt longing and contained verses that sweep into big, deep chords in the chorus suits her perfectly.
2) "Butterflies and Hurricanes" by Muse, on the opposing side, suits the glittering complexity and intense, full-tilt mental state and actions of her greatest antagonist, Xereth, villain of all the Siaris novels.
3) "Sirens of the Sea" by Oceanlab is a favourite for Reunion’s Sitia, a young woman who sets out on a solo adventure that turns into a journey of new relationships. Sirens of the Sea has a beautiful, ethereal quality set to a light, fast-paced beat that has the feel of her flight into self-exploration and inter-threading connections.
4) An old favourite, Roxy Music’s "Avalon", sets the dreamlike mood of Riana’s palace home, like a golden memory of the past, still present but carrying ancient memories of a simpler, more graceful time.
5) "Always Summer", by composer Terry Davies, from the soundtrack to the BBC TV series Brideshead Revisited (which some of you might remember) is a perfect scene-setter for the peaceful, untroubled towns, woods and meadows of Riana and her family’s idyllic protectorate.
6) "The Eighth Henry" and "Farewell to a Queen" from The Tudors soundtrack, by Trevor Morris, elegant, rich string and flute pieces with a slightly haunting medieval feel and shifting moods evoke for me the elusive, sometimes tense, always changeful relationships between the orders of immortal Guardians of Reunion and its prequel, Daughter of Hope.
7) U2’s "The Unforgettable Fire", with its epic ‘building wave’ of textured sound and vocals describes the painful yet beautiful reawakening of old memories between Riana and her long-lost love.
8) Riana’s ‘lost love’, "Maeran/Maegren", I often write to Bruce Springsteen’s "The Streets of Philadelphia", an exceptional combination of a sound that is almost a lullaby, very quietly sung, with a poignant ‘poetry’ of impending loss and fragile, wearied mortality.
9) Enigma’s "The Child In Us" is right for scenes of uplifting emotions, for the feeling of ‘freedom gained’ and exhilaration, while keeping an overview of the scene, often when I need to interlace several characters. Hard to explain how this works, but it does!
10) This list could easily run to a hundred, but before I get too carried away, here is number 10; right into epic fantasy territory with Wagner, and the many orchestral interludes of "The Ring Cycle", layered atmospheric strings with a huge range of tone, interwoven with the most sonorous horn sounds in the classical repertoire. Operatic vocals would be too much, but the orchestral suites take me instantly into the world of Reunion, with all its laden, echoing history.
What do you like to listen to while ‘waltzing with the Muse’?
The world of Siaris has been thrown into chaos. Xereth, still reeling from the loss of his children, has bided his time and waited years for the perfect time to exact revenge. That time is drawing near. Little does Xereth know, he’ll have unsolicited help along the way.
Long-dormant prejudices have surfaced among the humans and elden of Siaris, and they are turning their hate toward their Guardian protectors. Neither visions nor spell-craft can predict the mutiny being prepared in their protectorate, and when a human and Guardian fall in love the rule banning their marriage only ignites the drive to retaliate.
In the world Riana and her Guardian family protect, war has broken out, led by the man who once loved her, now Lord of the Shadow Realm. The old rules are crumbling, the spells engraved in the Guardians’ bones are breaking down. Will Siaris and its Guardians survive the changes?
Joanna Fay lives in the Perth Hills of Western Australia with her teenage son and a menagerie of small pets. She writes fantasy novels and short stories, works as a therapist, meditates, and keeps an eye on the sky for unidentified flying objects. Her poems and short stories have won awards and been published in Australia, the UK, and the USA.
Learn more about Joanna Fay on her website. Stay connected on facebook and Twitter.