I like to listen to music when I write. It helps me block out the chaos of the world around me, helps me vanish into the magic of words, and brings me closer to worlds I’m creating from scratch.
I like to make playlists. I make playlists for exercising, playlists for walking, playlists for writing. I make playlists for my playlists.
I like to think I have fairly varied musical tastes. While most of my listening focuses on dark alternative/gothic/industrial stuff, I do like pop, some metal, some rap, and even some country (though said songs are few and far between). For the most part, however, I listen to what I think of as “Depression Alt-Electro Rock”. (Yeah…we’ll go with that.)
This playlist is one of many I play when I write, and it changes fairly regularly. These are songs that help me create a mood and flow with my writing, especially when I’m working on the “Blood Skies” novels. In many cases these songs focus on particular characters or themes I find myself coming back to again and again. (One could even call this the “Blood Skies Soundtrack”.)
1. “Lost in the Echo”, by Linkin Park
Linkin Park’s songs are often filled with themes of loss and regret. “Lost in the Echo” has a tone at once both dismal and sweeping, hopeful and filled with sorrow, with equal measures of anger and fear. I love the dichotomy of the song, something I try to capture in the disparate world After the Black.
2. “Vow”, by Garbage
Danica Black is an important character in the Blood Skies novels, and the further along I get into the series the deeper I delve into her characters. “Vow” is a terrific representation of her: aggressive, angry, yet undercut with a sense of vulnerability.
Mother nature lost her child
There’s no earth beneath my feet
All the times I’ve played it wild
Have left my story incomplete
Now I’m here to end the show
With no more promises to keep
No faith to be repaid and no
More miles to go before I sleep
Many of the characters in Blood Skies are, shall we say, socially stunted. You would be too, if you grew up in this dismal place, faced with supernatural horrors on an almost daily basis. Some characters are worse off than others, but everyone is damaged. Perhaps the worst off is Ronan, raised from a young age to be an assassin, and who later struggles with what it means to be human. In a lot of ways this song is about him.
We all fall down
Into the fire
And my wishes have all come true
We all fall down
I don’t want it if I can’t be with you
I love good Gothic rock, and The Birthday Massacre makes great Gothic rock. The tone and mood of the song all but embody Cole’s relationship with Danica.
I don’t know if I’m real without you
What is left of me without you?
I don’t know whats real without you
How can I exist without you?
Angsty dark rock just doesn’t get better than this. Though you have to take the song a little out of context, “Shame” has always made me think of Eric’s frame of mind when he first lost his arcane spirit in Blood Skies.
6. “One”, by U2
Well it’s too late tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other, carry each other
This is one of my favorite bittersweet love songs. The lyrics are tragic and poetically sad, and yet something about the song is uplifting, like hope waits somewhere at the end of the fog of lost love. It’s a mood I try to capture in my writing – no matter how dismal the story or situations is, my characters believe there is hope, and that’s what they strive for.
7. “Going Under”, by Evanescence
Creepy, atmospheric, emotional, and loud. This is pretty much the theme music for the series. The fact that the video is scary as hell and features 30 Days of Night style vampires is just a bonus.
I love catchy club tunes, and something from Mesh is always on my playlist. For some reason their songs always make me think of Kane, and it was useful for me to have them playing whenever I wrote chapters from his POV in Crown of Ash.
Some are mystified, some are blinded by the light
I can’t sleep, you cannot wake up
Some step into daylight, some run away and hide
A heart that’s not alive can never die
Discordant, atmospheric, and strangely moving, this song resonated with me emotionally while I was writing The Witch’s Eye. I feel like it really captures the melancholy yet hopeful tone of the novel.