Music to Soothe (or Not) the Savage Writer

Sometimes I need music when I write. It focuses me, particularly when the theme or lyrics fit the character or the scene I’m writing. I know some authors who have a playlist for each book, but since I write about the same characters in similar situations, I find my growing playlist will work for about any writing situation.

I do, however, have a playlist for my two main characters, as well as a “theme song” for each of them and for them together. As I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month, I’ve played these lists separately and together a couple of times already. I think you’ll find my taste in music somewhat…eclectic. (If you were to look at my Spotify list of favorite songs, you’d find The Hu, a Mongolian heavy metal band, next to Mozart.)

I hope you listen to some of the music on both lists and enjoy it as much as I do.

Mai Fisher’s Playlist

Mai Fisher has always been into hard rock and Irish bands. In her backstory, she ran away at fifteen to be a groupie for the fictional rock band, the Dublin Devils, headed by superstar Ian Flynn (also fictional). When Flynn discovered she was underage, he dumped her at the insistence of Mai’s guardian. Otherwise, he’d face prosecution. Mai has always carried a torch for Flynn and hasn’t listened to his music since.

Mai’s Theme: “Secret Agent” by Melissa Etheridge. The lyrics are perfect for Mai, and I’m glad a writer friend suggested this as Mai’s Theme.

Mai’s Playlist: Though you’ll find a lot of Metallica and Rob Zombie on Mai’s personal playlist, here’s what I listen to when I’m writing her scenes:

“Gunfight” by Sick Puppies
“Wolf Totem” by The Hu
“Counting Stars” by OneRepublic
“In the Air Tonight” by Nonpoint (cover)
“Call Me” by Shinedown
“Oh Lord” by In This Moment
“The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed (cover)
“Rx (Medicate)” by Theory of a Dead Man
“Whatever It Takes” by Hollywood Undead
“Fade In/Fade Out” by Nothing More
“Zombie” by Bad Wolves (though Mai prefers The Cranberries’ version)
“Born for Greatness” by Papa Roach
“Go to War” by Nothing More
“Ladies First” by Queen Latifah and Monie Love
“Rise Up” by Andra Day

There are a lot more, but this is a good starting point if you want to know what’s in my head as I write this character.

Alexei Bukharin’s Playlist

Alexei was a classically trained musician in the Soviet Union, a piano prodigy the Communist Party had plans for. The only problem was Alexei had other plans for himself, namely defection to the west. However, he has always used playing the piano to relax, to deal with negative emotions, and to put aside a mission’s aftereffects. One of his first purchases after his defection was a baby grand piano, which took up most of the room in his small apartment until he moved in with Mai.

Alexei’s Theme: Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” aka Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# Minor, Op. 27, No. 2. Not only is playing this calming for Alexei, but it sometimes reflects his bouts of depression.

Alexei’s Playlist: These pieces of music are literally his play list, as in, he plays them according to his moods:

“Liebestod” from Tristan und Isolde by Wagner (This is actually the theme of a novella I’m writing for NaNoWriMo.)
“Kreisleriana Op. 16 by Robert Schumann
“Deep Forest” by Varela
“Augenblick” by Beethoven
“Funf Gesange,” Op. 105, No. 1 by Brahms
“Einaudi: Divenire” by Dalal
“Maienzeit-Ulm” by Stadhaus
“Running by the Roads, Running by the Fields” by Wenngren
“Suite bergamasque” by Debussy
“Moonlight Sonata” 3rd Movement by Beethoven

Mai’s and Alexei’s Theme

Though my writing contains only “a hint of romance,” Mai and Alexei are married. Their feelings have ebbed and flowed over the years, but if they had to pick a song that described their relationship, it would be “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri.

Now, I debated whether or not to reveal this because that song is from one of the awful Twilight movies. However, the lyrics drew me in:

“I have loved you for a thousand years.
“I will love you for a thousand more.”

They might rarely say it to each other, but it’s the thought that counts.

So, have a listen and let me know what you think.