"Lord, but I dislike poetry. How can anyone remember words that aren't put to music?" ~The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
I have a confession: I'm not a fan of poetry. So I was struck by the realization, when my husband I were discussing music, that lyrics are inextricably tied to my enjoyment of a song. Put the poetry to music and suddenly I'm a fan.
With early drafts of The Music of Chaos, when Regan O'Connell was still the typical bitter, urban fantasy (UF) tough girl, Evanescence's "Bring Me to Life" and the rest of the Fallen CD, with its themes of loss and redemption, fueled my muse.
Then the story evolved, picked up a lighter tone, and I started to poke subtle fun at UF archetypes. About that time, I stumbled on Oingo Boingo's "Just Another Day," which subsequently became The Music of Chaos's theme song.
It's just another day / There's murder in the air
It drags me when I walk / I smell it everywhere
It's just another day / Where people cling to light
To drive away the fear / That comes with every night.
Despite the dark lyrics, the melody is jaunty and light. The perfect expression of the tone of The Music of Chaos. "Tonight is What It Means to Be Young," from the movie, The Streets of Fire, with its slow build to a driving beat and enthusiastic chorus, practically wrote some of the story's scenes.
Regan and Jason's uneasy love affair, one of the plot's primary conflicts, developed under the influence of "Haunted" (Evanescence) and "Sorcerer" (Marilyn Martin). Regan's insecurities about the relationship are expressed perfectly by "I'm Not That Girl" from Wicked the musical.
I wrote a backstory event, the origin of Regan's antagonism towards the human Holders, fueled by the vengeance and loss of innocence expressed by the lyrics in songs like "In the Air Tonight" (Phil Collins) and "Into the Dark" (Melissa Etheridge).
Song lyrics have shaped my characters. For instance, Talis, my dark elf, is an exile from his homeland. The reason why--his prophetic visions--was provided by the song "Serenity" by Godsmack. While I was listening to "You Don't Know Me," Emmylou Harris's version, Talis told me (because I'm a nutty author whose characters talk to her) that he loved country music and this was one of his favorite songs.
Talis and Regan's friendship is summed up by The Pretenders "I'll Stand by You."
Breas is my unapologetic, angst-free vampire. Even Breas, however, has a smidgen of gooey emo under his tough shell. "I Am a Rock" (Simon & Garfunkel) with lyrics that describe an intellectual who keeps his emotional distance from everyone, is spot-on Breas. With lyrics like, "Time will not heal a dead boy's scars," how can "For the Heart I Once Had" (Nightwish) not be about Breas?
And finally, one of the last, and somewhat bittersweet chapters, was written with Roxette's "Listen to Your Heart" in the background.