The Top 6 Songs of Fantasy Author Stina Leicht



Stina Leicht’s debut novel Of Blood and Honey, a historical Fantasy with an Irish Crime edge set in 1970s Northern Ireland, was released by Night Shade books in February 2011. The sequel, And Blue Skies from Pain hits bookstores on March 6th, 2012. She also has a flash fiction piece in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s surreal anthology Last Drink Bird Head.
 
There’s a Story Attached

What makes a song popular is similar to what makes a story popular: our ability to relate to it. It’s magical. We listen to music and either remember what was happening at the time it was first heard, or hear the lyrics and twist their meaning to fit our own lives. That’s an illusion, of course -- this thought that the songwriter/singer is living through exactly what we are. In reality, that's not what the song is really about. It's not even about the singer. It's about the songwriter. But that doesn’t matter. As Peter Koestenbaum once said, "Creativity is harnessing universality and making it flow through your eyes." And so it goes.


Ever since I was a kid I enjoyed doing the same thing but with imaginary characters -- my own and those of other authors. Here are some examples.

 
1. The Church - Under the Milky Way 

The Church is one of my favorite bands. I listened to them a lot during a time when I was going through a major transition in my life. As a result, I can't hear Under the Milky Way and not think of Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Mermaid." Think of the lyrics "I think about the loveless fascination, under the milky way tonight." and "Wish I knew what you were looking for. Might have known what you would find." and "It leads you here, despite your destination. Under the milky way tonight." I can see the mermaid sitting on a rock on the night before her prince marries someone else -- the night before she dies and vanishes into nothing but sea-foam. I feel her longing and the tragedy of dying and never having her love returned. And that's why I did the collage.

2. The Rolling Stones - Street Fighting Man

Liam Kelly (Of Blood and Honey) loves the Rolling Stones almost as much as he loves The Clash which is funny since I was always a Beatles girl. While writing The Fey and the Fallen novels I had a great time discovering all sorts of music that I hadn't paid much attention to through Liam’s ears. From the very beginning, Street Fighting Man was the soundtrack to that first chapter set in Londonderry/Derry. "Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy. Cause summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy. But what can a poor boy do? Except to sign for a rock n roll band? 'Cause in sleepy London town there's just no place for a street fighting man." and "Hey! think the time is right for a palace revolution. But where I live the game to play is compromise solution" and "Hey! said my name is called disturbance. I’ll shout and scream, I'll kill the king, I'll rail at all his servants." it’s a perfect fit for background to a street riot because... it’s about a street riot. The riot in question is actually in Birmingham not Londonderry/Derry, but there you are. Anyway, I can’t tell you how many times I re-listened to ‘70s music over the past three years and suddenly understood the obvious. Another song for that chapter was Anarchy in the UK. “Is this the MPLA or is this the UDA or Is this the IRA? I thought it was the UK, Or just another country -- another council tenancy.” Even The Police were singing about The Troubles. “I don't want to spend the rest of my life, looking at the barrel of an Armalite. I don't want to spend the rest of my days, keeping out of trouble like the soldiers say. I don't ever want to play the part of a statistic on a government chart. I don't want to spend my time in hell, looking at the walls of a prison cell.” and “And they're only going to change this place by killing everybody in the human race.” (From Invisible Sun) Like most American kids, I didn’t have an f-ing clue what most of the British bands were singing about.




3. Pink Floyd
- Wish You Were Here


Another of those moments of discovering the obvious: “So, so you think you can tell? Heaven from Hell? Blue Skies from pain?” and “--A smile from a veil? Do you think you can tell?” and “Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?” and “--Cold comfort for change? Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?” When I found out they called the chain-link fenced sections in Long Kesh ‘cages’ that song gave me my theme for And Blue Skies from Pain -- not just the title.




4. Kate Bush - This Woman’s Work

I’ll need to be vague for those who haven’t read OB&H. Those of you who have read it will know right away who this song is for the moment you hear/read the lyrics. It’s a powerful song. (Kate Bush totally kicks ass.) When I wrote *that* scene this song was on repeat the whole way. It still makes me cry. I can’t help thinking we’ve all got Kate to blame for how well that came out because... damn is she a great songwriter.



5. Loreena McKennitt - The Highwayman

Once in a while I have one of those moments when I think anyone but another writer would think I’m a total nut case. I’m a firm believer in the concept that writers work with their subconscious -- just like all artists. The characters we make up are one part ourselves and one part a million other people we’ve known or briefly met. But sometimes I really wonder about myself, I admit it. One day I was listening to a soundtrack I’d thrown together for a character named Nels. (He’ll appear in my next set of novels.) This song popped up in the song rotation and clear as a bell Nels mutters in the back of my brain, “I fucking hate that song.” I stopped what I was doing at once and asked, “That sounds like a story. Why do you hate that song?” And sure enough Nels says, “I wasn’t going back to pick her up and ride off into the sunset. I was riding back to break up with her before they killed her. I fucking hate that song. Please stop playing it.” Yeah. Sometimes I’m not so much the closet romantic.



6. Kate Bush - Heads We're Dancing

I can’t go into too much detail on this one because it ties so closely to my newest project, but I’ll point to a relevant line “A picture of you, a picture of you in uniform, standing with your head held high. Hot down to the floor. But it couldn't be you. It couldn't be you. It's a picture of Hitler.” In this case, since my fantasy world is set in a 1780s-ish time, we’re not talking about a literal Hitler. (Neither is Kate, I’m sure.) Anyway, I’ll leave that a mystery because I’m evil that way.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Stina!

    I envy the more musically literate and deft, especially when it informs and influences their writing and other creative endeavors.

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  2. Liam Kelly (Of Blood and Honey) loves the Rolling Stones almost as much as he loves The Clash which is funny since I was always a Beatles girl.

    That's good parallax and the sign of a good writer--giving them traits and likes and dislikes distinctly and at odds with your own, and make them feel natural.

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