Monday, September 03, 2012

Musical Inspiration

A question I am frequently asked is, "where do you get your inspiration"?  Usually I mention the historic buildings I have seen, or the landscape, but sometime a scene or even the idea for a whole book will come from a song.  This can be anything from a rock song, a ballad, or a folk song etc etc.

That great writer of medieval historicals, Elizabeth Chadwick, is often inspired by some fairly heavy rock numbers, and even suggests a soundtrack to accompany her books!  I wouldn't go that far, and I find that I can't write at all if I am playing songs in the background as the words get in the way. However, when I am listening to music very often an idea for a story or sometimes just a scene will come to me.

In the book I have just completed there is a scene in the second of these that was inspired by Barry Manilow's version of a Mark Radice song, "Some Things Never Last".  It starts "It's three in the morning, you're nowhere in sight....." and while listening to it I visualized the the very darkest moment in the story, where the hero is at his very lowest, saddest point.  I made a note of the scene, and when I came to write it I listened to the song again, several times.  I think it is one of the saddest scenes I have ever written, but I will have to wait until the book is published next year to see if you agree with me!

I have just finished a short story for Harlequin's Undone! series, and the idea for that came from a much more modern song.  One of my sons was in a band at that time, and together the guys wrote a song called Moonlight Runaway. While I was listening to this at one of their gigs (hiding at the back of the room and leaving all the youngsters to crowd the stage), the idea for the story came to me, a moonlight meeting between two people who had once been very much in love.....  I can't tell you any more, or it would give away the story, but watch this space and I will let you know when it is published.

Sometimes it is only the germ of an idea that comes from a song, such as "Best of Both Worlds" by Mark London and Don Black and sung by Scott Walker.  This was the starting point for "Disgrace & Desire", the story about Eloise, the wanton widow and how much she is prepared to sacrifice for love. And then of course there are all those stories I have yet to write, like the one from the old folk song that starts "An Outlandish Knight/ From the north country/He came a-wooing of me....." or or course, Chris de Burgh's "Lady in Red"....

Are you ever inspired by music, or do you associate certain songs with specific books? Do let me know.

Sarah Mallory
The Illegitimate Montague - pub Dec 2012


Nicola Cornick said...

Fascinating blog, Sarah. I love hearing about the music that inspires people's books. I almost always have a "song of the book" in my mind when I am writing that serves as a sort of theme tune. It usually has some sort of connection via an idea to the story. For my most recent book, Forbidden, it was The Pretender by the Foo Fighters because the heroine is a claimant to a title. I love the way that music and lyrics can inspire us!

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

4 upularsThanks Nicola. Yes, it doesn't have to be much, does it, just a little germ of an idea!

Good luck with Forbidden - it is on my bookshelf waiting to be read (a treat)

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Oops, apologies for the weirdness at the beginning of my last message - is anyone else finding the captcha signs (to prove you are not a robot) harder and harder to read????

Nicola Cornick said...

Oh, the captchas drive me mad! I ran through about five of them the last time I tried to post a comment!