I must preface this post with the statement that none of the artists, their music, or any of their affiliates are in any way connected with the Realm project for the purpose of promotion or endorsement thereof. ~HL Gibson
What inspires you to write? For me, it’s overwhelmingly music. I can create and relive entire scenes while listening to music. What I’m listening to is often reflected in the mood of a particular scenario or traits of a character. While I’m writing, the music must be without words, but when driving or working around my home, lyrics play into my visions which are then translated onto the page.
For the reason stated at the beginning of this post, I’m unable to share links directly to the music that most profoundly influenced Realm. I’m hoping you’ll do yourself the favor of taking a few moments to seek the music so you can retrace the steps of my journey as I wrote Realm.
I must admit, this post is a written version of a mix tape, and while we all know mix tapes are cringey, we all secretly enjoy them because of the memories attached to the songs.
Almost eight years ago, I wrote a blog post about E.S. Posthumus called Sound Travels for Your Mind. I was surprised to realize that’s how long my novel had been in the various stages of production, and I know this because the album, Cartographer, supplied the background music for my writing.
There was a point, however, during the lengthy process of editing my manuscript, having it beta read, being further edited by me, and then handing it off for professional editing that I allowed myself to slip away from the music that inspired the story and characters. I didn’t notice at first, but a few days prior to my book launch, I sensed something was missing. I always turn to music to soothe whatever bothers me, but I couldn’t decide what genre of music would do the trick. That’s when Cartographer came to mind.
It had been so long since I listened to the album, but with the first notes of “Nolitus” I was suddenly transported back to the Realm. For me, the songs provided scene description and character sketches. Specifically, “Isunova,” a beautiful, haunting melody that builds in intensity and perfectly depicts Bialig’s internal and external struggles.
Then there was “Selisona,” which I played during any scene wherein the Realmers journeyed with Rogue; “Marunae,” a song that captures Nish’s elegance, beauty, and strength, and which I came to think of as her theme song; “Ashielf Pi,” the opening credits of Realm on the big screen; and “Nasivern,” which I imagined playing during the end credits of Realm, the movie. (Yes, I admit I imagined Realm as a movie many times.)
Then I replayed a song by Adrian Von Ziegler, a Swiss composer from Zürich, who was recommended to me by a friend. For Realm, the piece called “Between Worlds” became my theme for Misko, a troubled young man whose divided heart, mind, and loyalties were a detriment to himself and everyone around him.
“Between Worlds” is incredibly beautiful, but it also sounds cold and lonely, mysterious with a layer of uncertainty, and heavy with the air of expectation. It ends the same way it began, as if one is holding his or her breath in cautious anticipation.
The last song I’d like to mention is Lauren Daigle’s “Rescue.” My husband, William, arriving home in the early hours of the morning, couldn’t wait to have me listen to the song he knew captured the battle both Rogue and Raine were fighting, believing they could save each other and never imagining that their rescue would come from a source greater than them both.
We stood in the darkened kitchen, hovering over Will’s cell with one earbud apiece, eyes locked in agreement that Ms. Daigle’s lyrics were essentially the theme of the relationship between Rogue, Raine, and their Rescuer.
I’ll never tire of listening to the music that helped shape Realm. Even as I build playlists for my other WIPs, the songs I enjoyed while writing Realm, my first published novel, will always be special.
Let me know in the comments how music plays into your chosen art form, even if it’s music!