• My Musical Muses: Guest Post

    14th June 2012. Guest Post on Suzanne van Rooyen's website

    My Musical Muses

    I’m currently making revisions to another novel called Peace which I intend to publish in a few months time and it’s got me thinking about just how much I use music to help me write. In Peace, there are parts of the novel where I have copied out whole song lyrics and then wrote sweeping passages around them to depict my protagonist’s emotional state. I have had to cut those song lyrics out of the novel as getting permission to use them (not to mention the cost, which is likely to run into the thousands) means it’s more hassle than its worth.

    But today I will talk about some of the songs that helped shape my debut novel Dark Genesis.

    I doubt anyone will disagree with me when I say that music has the power to arouse a strong emotional response in us. And I’m sure you’ve all had moments when you’ve heard a particular song and it has transported you back to a specific memory and you’ve felt exactly what you were feeling at the time – I know I have. So it isn’t a surprise that a lot of writers use music/songs when writing. Different things attract me to the songs I use. Sometimes it’s the lyrics, or the song evokes a certain mood or vibe that is right for my novel. Either way, that song is usually on repeat until I’ve finished writing whatever piece it has inspired.

    When I first started writing Dark Genesis my protagonist, Luna, wasn’t very clear in my mind. And the song I used to help me visualise her, and the kind of qualities I wanted her to have, was Rihanna’s ‘Hard’. It was the video which initially attracted me to that song as I thought it was beautiful, fierce but also very playful. The song then came to represent the kind of strength I wanted Luna to display in the novel and I ended up writing chapter 22 to it.

    Adele’s ‘Make you feel my love’ is one that I used when Luna is faced with a dilemma towards the end of chapter 17. Although the solution to her dilemma is a very simple one, her heightened emotional state, along with her insecurities, prevent her from making that decision. The song and lyrics were perfect for that moment in the novel as although ‘Make you feel my love’ is, in essence, about love, there is something very sad about it and the sense that I always have whenever I hear it, is that she is talking about a love that is unattainable. That hopelessness the song evokes came to define the end of chapter 17 and the decision Luna ends up making.

    A song that actually altered the ending of my novel is ‘No Sunshine’ by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Des’ree. I love this song, it’s so moving and Des’ree’s vocal is extremely haunting. It also talks about a love that is lost. I had already written the first draft to Dark Genesis but I had been listening to that song a lot and picturing a set of events to it. In the end, it was so clear in my mind that I just had to write it down. I ended up falling in love with what I wrote and had to have it in the novel so it became chapter 24. It meant that I had to change the rest of the novel to fit around that chapter, but that section is one of the things that makes Dark Genesis so unusual for a paranormal romance.

    There are so many other songs that have shaped Dark Genesis and I’m sure that music will continue to be a big part of my writing experience.

    I hope you all have a good day.

    ADK x.


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