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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Music to write by?

I normally write when there are no distractions, e.g. between 4am and 7am. Music can distract me most of the time, so I lock myself away and turn off the wifi and my phone. But sometimes a piece of music or a song I'm listening to encapsulates a character, a scene, or a mood, so I listen to it several times, and then write.

One of the bands that reminds me of a particular character is The Script, an Irish band that first caught my attention when I was in Dublin airport, so much so that I asked the music store who it was (this was before they became famous). Probably their best known song, via YouTube, is Hall of Fame (with Will I Am), but the song that reminds me most of one of my characters, Micah, if not the entire Eden Paradox series and humanity's struggle to survive in a hostile galaxy, is This is Love. It's not a conventional love song, and to me it captures Micah's spirit; he's an anti-hero, actually a bit of a loser, and gets knocked down a lot, but he always gets back up again, and at the end of the day, he's humanity's best chance.

It's in the eyes of the children
As they leave for the very first time
And it's in the heart of the soldier
As he takes a bullet on the front line
It's in the face of a mother
As she takes the force of a blow
And its in the hands of the father
As he works his fingers to the bone

Another band I listen to a lot is Coldplay, and The Scientist reminded me of another character, Pierre (a scientist), even before I realized what the song was called. There's something sad and tragic about the song, a man trying to love but not knowing how, trapped in his 'numbers and figures', believing in science but knowing it won't help him in what ultimately matters. Another of Coldplay's songs, God put a smile on your face inspires me to write intrigue and page-turners, though I've no idea why.


When I'm writing space (technically it's the sub-genre known as space opera, no less), good inspiration is Jean Michel Jarre's Oxygene. For me the best part starts around 8:30 into the album. I can see ships firing on each other, chasing each other through nebulae and around ringed gas giants. It's the kind of music that inspired certain battle scenes in my third book, Eden's Revenge. In fact, since this is an instrumental album, I can listen to it while writing, though at 4 or 5am, that can get a bit anti-social...I narrowly missed his Millennium concert at the pyramids in Giza (I was a few hundred miles south, in Luxor at the time). I guess it's no surprise that one of the races in the Eden Paradox series uses pyramid-shaped space ships...

More recently, when I write space battle scenes, beforehand I sometimes listen to Pink Floyd's Run like hell (live). It's the opening instrumental sequence, in particular; I can see a space battle unfold listening to this, huge ships and small ones, space lit up by particle beam-fire.
I listened a lot to this when writing the final battle scene in Eden's Endgame, the last book in the series, when the fate of the galaxy depends on one final battle's outcome. Of course space is silent, so battles there would be unheard, unless you were on a ship under attack. Still...

Of course musical tastes are very personal. For me as a writer, though, sometimes a song can capture an emotional state, or even a character, perfectly. I fell in love with music at the age of five, it was my first love, and as the song goes (John Miles), it'll probably be my last.

Here's the rest of the lyrics from This is Love.


I'm standing under a white flag oh
Can you see me oh, can you see me oh
I'm standing for everything we have oh
Can you hear me oh, can you hear me
This is why we do it this is worth the pain
This is why we bow down and get back up again
This is where the heart lies, this is from above
Love is this, this is love
Love is why we do it love is worth the pain
Love is why we fall down, get back up again
Love is where the heart lies love is from above
Love is this, this is love
This is love (x3)
It's in the soul of a city
What it does after it crumbles and burns
And it's in the blood of a hero
To know where he goes he may never return yeah
I'm standing under a white flag oh
Can you see me oh, can you see me oooh
I'm standing for everything we have oh
Can you hear me oh, can you hear me
This is why we do it this is worth the pain
This is why we bow down, get back up again
This is where the heart lies this is from above
Love is this, this is love
Love is why we do it love is worth the pain
Love is why we fall down, get back up again
Love is where the heart lies love is from above
Love is this, this is love

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