Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Fiction Fridays: Writing Soundtracks, the NaNoWriMo Edition

For today’s first edition of Fiction Fridays, I planned to write a bit about the music that is the inspiration for my NaNoWriMo novel. Coincidentally, the theme for Week 2 of the Warm Fuzzies blogfest is to share something that inspires our current WIPs, so I can kill two birds with one stone.

Having a soundtrack tailored to each WIP is incredibly important to me. Music fuels my mood as a writer, and it also helps me tap into the emotional tone that I want to evoke in my work. I spend far too much time pulling my playlists together — and yes, that is multiple playlists. I usually have a list for the WIP as a whole, plus songs tailored for individual characters, songs that reflect friendships and romances, and songs that inspire specific plot points and scenes (you know, battle scenes, sad moments, sappy moments).

Utilizing a musical soundtrack is also incredibly helpful when it comes to transitioning between projects. TELL ME NO LIES, the novel I most recently worked on (a steampunk murder mystery/romance), has a very distinctive vibe, with lots of folk and country music that remind me of 19th century San Francisco. Disentangling myself from that world and the incredibly vocal characters that inhabit it is a difficult process, but using music to ease that shift makes things a bit easier.

I’ve culled through the current playlist to find the three songs that I think are the most representative of the mood and tone of this novel. As per the rules for this week’s Warm Fuzzies challenge, I’m not going to tell you what the novel is about. Based on the songs I post, you get to guess exactly what this tale might be about. And I see you there, about to peek at my works in-progress page (I’m shaking a finger in admonition, I hope you know). We’re going for honest guesses, folks, so no cheating. 😀

Cara Dillon, “Black is the Colour” (Lyrics)

Cara Dillon is a contemporary Irish folk singer, and her ethereal voice always sends shivers down my spine. She released four studio albums between 2001 and 2009, all of which include a blend of traditional Irish ballads and original music. “Black is the Colour” comes from Cara Dillon, her first album.

Lisa Gerrard, “Sanvean”

Lisa Gerrard is an Australian singer, and former member of the band Dead Can Dance. If her voice sounds familiar, it may be because you recognize it from the Gladiator soundtrack, which she co-composed with Hans Zimmer (“Now We Are Free” is one of her most popular tracks from that album). If you’re wondering exactly what language she’s speaking in “Sanvean,” it turns out that she’s using an invented tongue, one that she created as a child to “talk to God.” She has employed it in a number of her songs over the years.

Loreena McKennitt, “The Old Ways” (Lyrics)

Loreena McKennitt is one of my all-time favorite singers. Her music is lush, evocative, and intricate, and always feels somewhat magical to me. She draws from a wide range of inspiration, from European literature (including Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott” and Noyes’ “The Highwayman“) and traditional Celtic music, to broader Arabic and Mediterranean influences. McKennitt is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and musician. “The Old Ways” comes from her fourth album, The Visit.

And there we have it! Any inspired guesses about what my current WIP might be about?

As a sort of “preview of coming attractions,” I’ll be sharing more about the details of my project in my Sunday check-in for the A Round of Words in 80 Days writing challenge. Also, I’m cohosting a discussion about NaNoWriMo progress in today’s post over at Fun Not Fear! All WriMos are invited to pop over and chat about how the first few days of NaNo has gone; for those of you who aren’t participating, we can always use cheerleaders, so please feel free to stop by and say hello.


  1. If you like these – try this performer Cécile Corbel
    I went to see the animated film Arriety last week in France and this talented lady wrote and performed the soundtrack for the film. Our local tiny cinema had somehow got her complete with cetic harp and her group, to come and do a concert for us before the film. Utterly spellbinding – and of course I bought the $35 signed CD ouch! She has the most ethereal voice – rather like a fairy – she is French but sings in English and Japanese too.
    Emma Calin recently posted..Culcha VulchaMy Profile

    • Ooooh, thank you so much for the recommendation! I can see why you spent the $35 for the album — her voice is absolutely exquisite. I’m going to have to purchase a CD or two as well. 😀

  2. Hmm…. Might your WIP involve someone who’s haunted by someone from her past? A dancer who comes back from the dead perhaps? Wearing a black leotard? Okay, best I stop. 😉

    I love music, too. I can’t listen while I write, but I need to listen afterwards and in between. Perhaps a playlist/soundtrack is in order for me as well. Thanks for the inspiration!
    August McLaughlin recently posted..Sweet Solitude: Creating Intimacy with Writing & OurselvesMy Profile

    • I love these guesses! No dancers in this tale, but my MC is haunted by events that happened in her past, so nice job there. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by, August!

  3. Wow, all such haunting and emotional pieces. I’m terrible at guessing but listening I get feelings of intense emotion, lost lost, redemption, longing and yet hope! 😉 I feel ghosts or attachments to the past and a hard-stakes journey for love. How’d I do?

  4. I can’t guess. I’m still stuck on listening to Loreena McKennitt. I love her songs!
    Multiple playlists, hmmm… I’ve made YouTube playlists before for some of my stories, but they’re usually only a few songs each.

  5. I can’t do music when I’m writing, the lyrics tend to distract me and I end up singing along as opposed to writing. There’s only a few songs that I feel fit various WIPs, but only after I had written the story and heard the song. I’m terrible at guessing with music, but it sounds like your story will be a grand adventure with mystery.
    Patricia Royal recently posted..Warm Fuzzy Blogfest Week 2My Profile

    • Indeed, there will be adventure and mystery! And I know what you mean about distracting lyrics. I definitely have days when all I can do is listen to instrumental music, so I have quite a few playlists of my favorite classical pieces, along with movie soundtracks and chill ambient music.

  6. Girl, that’s beautiful. I wish I put music together like you do. I might have to recruit you to put together a playlist for me sometime 😉

  7. Good grief, ROWsis, you could have made this playlist from my iPod. I love Loreena McKennit, and well, the Irish stuff goes without saying ;). I’ll have to check out Lisa Gerrard; I know the Gladiator soundtrack but not her solo albums.

    I do best with music without lyrics while writing, although some of McKennit and Enya I know all the words and sing along, to my great embarrassment1
    Elizabeth Anne Mitchell recently posted..Christine de Pizan’s Letter of OthéaMy Profile

    • I knew we were ROWsistas for a reason! And yeah, I also do quite a bit of embarrassing singing along — those are the moments when I’m glad to live alone. 😉

      I recommend “The Best of Lisa Gerrard,” which is evenly split between her Dead Can Dance and solo stuff. I’ve also got an album she recorded called “Departum,” which is pretty haunting and New Age-y, but also awesome.

  8. I’ve been always drawn to Loreena McKennitt’s amazing music. I’ve been introduced to her songs many years ago — nothing has changed, she’s still on the top of my list.

    Music has been often an inspiration for my writing. You selected some very powerful songs for your inspiration! Can’t wait to see what your new WIP is about 🙂
    Angela Orlowski-Peart recently posted..ROW80 Check-In Sunday, November 6, 2011My Profile

    • I’m so glad to see so many Loreena McKennitt fans among my friends! I discovered her music in college (one of my friends burned me a copy of her cd), and like you, I feel like it’s a love affair without an ending. 😉

  9. Interesting. I’m most inspired by music when I’m painting. I suppose writing with specific music in mind would give a novel a distinctive flavor. It’s always a talking point to an audience and they, in turn, learn what inspires the work they enjoy.
    totsymae1011 recently posted..Six Word Saturday: T’is the Season To Be GivingMy Profile

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