Music actually had a great deal to do with my time writing Wind Age. I collected enough pieces of music, each for a certain part of the story, that I arranged them in a playlist — a private one, though, as some of the music that I listened to for the purposes of setting a certain mood is not the kind of music I would recommend.
When I completed the story, and after I let it sit for about a month, I printed it out and took a highlighter to it. The first time I read through the story I could tell, for any given scene, what I’d been listening to while writing it — not intentionally calling up words or tune, but they were there in my mind all the same. Sometimes words here and there echoed the words of the songs, when the music I was listening to had words. By the fourth and fifth round, I lost that, though if I ask myself what music I was listening to I can still answer, but the story no longer owes quite so much to the music. Now I see it as a complete whole within itself, with parts relating to each other more than to the music that inspired, or evoked the mood for, or influenced details of, individual scenes.
Unfortunately I had a great shortage of period music to listen to. In other parts of England, in the seventh century, you get Gregorian chant, which is lovely and some of it sets a good monastic mood. However, Irish missionaries, being cut off from Rome for so long, wouldn’t have it — it was a pretty new thing at the time — so they brought hymns from Ireland. St Columba (the tune) may date from then, though we’re not sure. St Patrick’s Breastplate is certainly something they would have brought with them. As a matter of fact I listened to it while writing a certain very important part, and some lines from it are themes in a certain other part. But besides the Lorica the playlist is more than half Heather Dale — that’s where most of the stuff I wouldn’t recommend comes from, though in all fairness quite a bit of her work isn’t half bad, especially her SCA songs — and the rest is almost all classical or church music, things like Albinoni’s Beatitudes or Bach.
One day around noon we were listening to the radio, the classical station by this time because the news was over, and a piece came on that was perfect for the end of Wind Age. I went and found the name and remembered it. The final scene, for which I had vague ideas in mind, had to be as good as I could get it, and a satisfying kind of ending, one that fits the story. I didn’t know the details of that yet, but when the music was on I’d started to see it. When the time came to write the ending, I looked it up, and it didn’t fail me. And no, I’m not putting a link here, not yet — my betas haven’t finished the story.
Within the story itself, music doesn’t have quite as much of a part, considering how little music we know of — doubtless they had quite a lot, but we’ve lost the vast majority. I mention people singing hymns where appropriate, but in most cases I can’t go into a lot of detail with them, except the scene where the Lorica is mentioned.
Note on “music I listen to but don’t recommend”: Sometimes I run across a song that works well for writing a part of a story involving either bad things happening, or bad people doing. . . things. What bad people do. The music helps me get into their minds. So it’s useful, but I also don’t listen to it when other people are around to notice that she’s listening to that. Not that even Mordred’s Lullaby is the worst thing I’ve ever had to hear, but that doesn’t mean that listening to it without good reason is something I want to do. I figure I’m writing about a fairly dark time, that it involves paganism, and presenting the dark as it truly is, is worth that. Thoughts?