Since I wrote my last blog post on the quotes that kept me focused while writing Empire’s Exile, I’ve been noticing what else I use to keep to my themes and moods. Unsurprisingly, and especially for the work-in-progress, music is a large influence.
In Exile, the ear-worm that both plagued and focused me throughout was REM’s Losing my Religion. (Those of you who’ve read the book may see the connection.) But in Empire’s Reckoning, the chief narrator, the lord Sorley, is a musician, and so music is very important.
Given that my imagined country of Linrathe and its administered land Sorham are analogues of Scotland, Gaelic or Gaelic-influenced songs make up the largest part of the tracks I’m playing over and over again. The band Runrig is almost always on my i-pod, and most especially their song The Beautiful Pain. The lines:
All that’s constant and wise
I still see in your eyes
And it was always that way from the start
Right here where I stand
On the last of the land
But you’re still breaking the heart.
so perfectly captures my narrator Sorley’s angst that I’m hard-pressed to find a better way of expressing it.
But then there’s Stan Rogers’ beautiful song Turnaround, and its lines:
Now it’s not like you made out
To hang around
Although you know I made some sounds
To show that I cared
And when it looked like you heard the call
I didn’t say a lot,
Although I could have said much more
Had I dared
But yours was the open road
The bitter song, the heavy load
That I couldn’t share
Though the offer was there
Every time you turned around.
which again is a flawless summation of Sorley’s regret.
Whenever the story appears to be becoming too easy on my protagonists, I play these again. Sure, I’d like them to ‘live happily ever after’…but that is neither a good story nor realistic. We cannot shape the circumstances to fit our lives, only our lives to fit the circumstances. What defines us, as men and women, is how we respond to those circumstances, my character Casyn said in the first book of the trilogy, Empire’s Daughter. It’s still the overriding theme.