A guest post by Phoebe Darqueling
Today we have a delightful guest post from steampunk and portal fantasy author Phoebe Darqueling, as one of the stops on her tour for her latest novel Riftmaker. This is such a fun post as we haven’t had anyone talk about music recently. I hope you enjoy!
There are a few topics that come up in online writing groups over and over again. How to get over writer’s block in its various iterations takes the #1 spot, but the question of what music people listen to while writing easily comes in somewhere in the top 5. While many people prefer silence, I am definitely one of those people that needs a little something extra going on in the background in order to find my flow.
Movies and Soundtracks
While I was writing Riftmaker, I had two methods for creating the right environment for writing this adventure about a dog who wakes up in a human body after falling through a rift in time and space. The first was to put on movies in the background. No just any movie would do, though. I would cycle through the Harry Potter films, then all of Lord of the Rings, then Pirates of the Caribbean. Then it would start all over again. This would drive a lot of people absolutely insane, but for me, it just worked. For one thing, I’d seen them all several times already, so I wasn’t distracted by the plots. But I also think a huge reason for their appeal was that they had soundtracks that captured the kind of mood I wanted to write.
Hans Zimmer, who wrote the music for both Pirates of the Caribbean and the recent Sherlock Holmes films, immediately comes to mind. He has a very old world feeling that really lends itself to writing Steampunk/Gaslamp Fantasy. The Harry Potter films had various composers, but one thing that’s true for all of the movie soundtracks I enjoy writing to is that there are string instruments involved. I never played the violin myself, but I find that it speaks to me in a way that really gets my creative juices flowing.
Old Meets New
Which brings me to the other music that inspired Riftmaker. Around the time I started writing this book, I also discovered Lindsey Stirling. She’s a fantastic musician who mixes her classical violin training with contemporary music styles like electronic dance music and dubstep. It was love at first listen, and I started building a playlist on Pandora around her music. Soon, that led me to artists like Caravan Palace and Beats Antique, that borrow from older musical traditions and mash them up together or with new beats.
The songs of movie soundtracks and of the artists I mentioned have two important things in common. They rarely have words and they always have a driving beat. I find this kind of stimulation propels me forward to the next sentence, and pretty soon I’ve got a paragraph, and then a chapter.
More than Just Background Noise
But the influence of these string/electronic mashups didn’t stop at just helping me feel motivated to write. When I sat down to start Riftmaker, I was sure of two characters, but the rest just sort of showed up of their own accord.
I knew that one of these people needed to have a best friend, but I hadn’t gotten any farther than that when I had to idea to make him a musician. Suddenly, Jeremy sprouted fully formed from my brain and the scene that opens the book fell into place. (If you’d like to find out more about Jeremy, you can check out this character spotlight I did earlier in the blog tour.) I’d always heard that music could be inspiring, but I’d never realized how influential it can be in the turning points of creating a story. From a electronic remix of Bach’s Fugue in G Minor, I gained a whole person, and Jeremy’s complicated feelings about his friend and his place in the world became central to telling my story about prejudice, acceptance, and finding your way to who you want to be as an adult.
For your listening pleasure, I created a Spotify playlist with just a few of the songs that are the soundtrack of this book. Listen now. If you don’t already have Spotify, you can sign up for free and listen on your computer or phone. Find out more.
Find more character spotlights, book reviews, guest posts, and interviews with Phoebe Darqueling during the Riftmaker blog tour, Jan 24 – Mar 6.
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Phoebe Darqueling is the pen name of a globe-trotting vagabond who currently hangs her hat in Freiburg, Germany. In her “real life” she writes curriculum for a creativity competition for kids in MN. She loves all things Steampunk and writes about her obsession on SteampunkJournal.org. She’s been part of several Collaborative Writing Challenge releases, and you can also find her short horror retelling of Pinocchio in The Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales. Her first novels, Riftmaker and No Rest for the Wicked, are hitting shelves Spring 2019. You can find more of Phoebe’s antics on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Thanks so much for joining us! Look forward to a review from me shortly on Riftmaker as I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Until next time,