I never actually write with music playing “in the background”. It just doesn’t work for me. But sometimes songs help inspire a character, in the same way that a photograph might. What’s even more often the case is that certain songs just seem to encapsulate a character or a relationship within the story. I’ve split my choices below evenly between Vampirates and Allies & Assassins.
• Al Wilson – The Snake
This is one of my favourite songs (guaranteed to get me up on the dancefloor – for better or worse) and I think it perfectly depicts the relationship between Darcy Flotsam and Stukeley. She so wants to believe that there’s goodness in him, but he can’t hide his essential nature,
• Lilac Wine – Jeff Buckley
This is a tribute to Vampirate temptress Lady Lola Lockwood who runs the legendary Black Heart Winery from belowdecks on The Vagabond. “Lilac wine is sweet and heady like my love.” Why, it’s almost as if Lola was being serenaded by one of her (willing?) victims.
• Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man
But of course there’s really only one man for Lola and that’s Sidorio. If there is ever a musical version of VAMPIRATES (oh happy thought), I’d want Sidorio to sing with every bit this level of swagger.
• Husky Rescue – Summertime Cowboy
This one’s for everyone’s favourite Vampirate Cowboy, Johnny Desperado. It’s got that same lightness and fun that Grace experiences when she first encounters Johnny at Sanctuary.
• Jack Johnson – A Pirate Looks at Forty
I compiled a previous VAMPIRATES playlist a while back and this is the only duplicate I’ve allowed myself. “Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call. I’ve wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall… you’ve seen it all.” It’s a fitting sentiment for so many of my characters, but perhaps particularly – those sparring pirate captains – Molucco Wrathe and Cheng Li.
• Camille O’Sullivan – The Ship Song
This is a sublime version of a Nick Cave song performed by one of my favourite artists. I saw Camille sing it live and its raw, pure emotion helped inspire the relationship between the murdered Prince Anders and his secret lover in ALLIES & ASSASSINS.
“Come sail your ships around me and burn your bridges down. We make a
little history, baby, every time you come around.”
• Suzanne Vega – The Queen and the Soldier
I could only like this better if it was called “The Queen and the Executioner”. One of my favourite relationships in ALLIES & ASSASSINS is the somewhat inappropriate one between Queen Elin and Morgan Booth, the young Executioner. It tickles me that their secret rendezvous take place in the Queen’s library. But what I enjoy even more is the shifting balance of power between these two.
• Your Love Alone is Not Enough – Nina Persson & Manic Street Preachers
Given that ALLIES had dual inspiration in the Scandi Noir genre and the courts of pre-Medieval Wales, I clearly had to include this combination of Swedish singer Nina Persson and Welsh rock gods the Manics. This would be a perfect song to accompany Prince Jared as he rides out beyond the gates of Archenfield on a mission to make safe the princedom in A CONSPIRACY OF PRINCES. He carries with him an important token from Asta Peck, but he’s going to need more than her belief in him to get him through the coming
• First Aid Kit – Master Pretender
Following in the Scandi vein, this song from an achingly cool Swedish folk duo seems highly appropriate. They could be singing about my favourite antihero Axel Blaxland or hissuper-smart sister Lady Koel, who comes to the fore in my new book, A CONSPIRACY OF PRINCES.
• Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Last time I came up with a playlist, I claimed this anthem for VAMPIRATES but actually it’s even more fitting for the courtly power games at the heart of the ALLIES & ASSASSINS books. It really captures the sense, particularly prevalent in the second book, that the Wheel of Fate can turn at any point and those in power might tumble from a very great height. Which of my characters would have the self-awareness to sing this song? I have my ideas but I’ll let you read the books and decide…