May 3, 2011

Characters and Music

Music is like painting without paint, description without necessarily using words. In a way it transcends both of those in its power to evoke emotion; it has an otherworldly aspect. I know some people are more geared toward it than others, and I'm not one of those who cannot survive without it, but I find it fascinating how linked music is to the human soul.

So with that said, I dug up some of the music that either inspired my characters or novels, or that I found especially applicable to the characters or novels, and here it is.

The Soldier's Cross

Fiona - Daughter of Grace by Twila Paris. The spirit of the song, the coming to the end of one's self and finding that Grace is the only thing to save, characterizes Fiona's search for peace and her loneliness through The Soldier's Cross.

She sat down inside to wait, to rest her mind awhile
No use trying to fight with fate, or fake a smile
There she found the end of herself
Heard a small voice crying for help

Leah - Windows in the World by Andrew Peterson. The way these lyrics reflect what C.S. Lewis called "sehnsucht" - a joyful, heartbreaking longing for something beyond this world - is perfect for Leah's nature. Fiona's first thought on meeting her is that her soul seems to be shining through her body like a star, and Andrew Peterson's song captured that idea.

It’s the way the clouds are burning from the angle of the light
as the earth is slowly turning you to meet it.
And you’re watching at your window at the ending of the night--
it’s as plain as day so any fool could see it: it’s a window in the world.

Pierre - I'm not sure Pierre really has a song, but the nearest I could come up with was Boy Like Me / Man Like You by Rich Mullins. It isn't perfect, but it reflects to some degree Pierre's boyishness and the way he grows into a man.

Did they tell you stories about the saint of old?
Stories about their faith?
They say stories like that make a boy grow bold
Stories like that make a man walk straight.


Justin King [the wordcrafter] - Justin gets two songs. Just because. His first would be Brother, Stand Beside Me by Heather Dale*. That song, although it concerns King Arthur's last stand, captures, in a way, the whole thrust of Wordcrafter (because no one has set Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" to music). His other song is instrumental: A Gift of Thistle, from the Braveheart soundtrack*. The soft sadness of it has an element in it that reminded me of Justin at times.

Brother, stand beside me - Brother, lend your arm
Brother, stand beside me - Brother, lend your arm
See the weakness in the world
And choose to be strong
Let them sing, let them sing our praises when we've gone.

Ethan Prince [the hound] - And Ethan gets two as well, because Justin got two and of course one must be fair. The solidness of If I Stand by Rich Mullins makes it Ethan's first, but it has a joyful theme as well that also fits him. In Wordcrafter I did not get "inside" Ethan's head, as the story unfolds from Justin's perspective, but this song depicts his mindset, his foundation, quite well. And then his second song is the instrumental The Blood of Cu Chullain by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna. It is perfectly wild and vivid - and is also one of my favorite songs.

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
that You will pull me through
And if I can't, let me fall on the grace
that first brought me to You.
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
that has born in me these songs
And if I weep, let it be as a man
who is longing for his home.

Jamie Fairbairn [the vixen] - When the Coyote Comes by Fernando Ortega. The bouncy, slightly dark tune fits Jamie and the coyote in the lyrics is a good analogy to her.

The night heats up when the coyote comes
He won't rest till his work is done
Critters flee when he comes around
Some won't make it home...

Copper - Love Theme from the Merlin soundtrack. I couldn't find an actual song that fit her, and her quiet nature is better suited to an instrumental piece. The sweetness of the Love Theme is just perfect.

The White Sail's Shaking

Tip Brighton - Let Mercy Lead by Rich Mullins. Something of an odd choice for the kind of character he is, but the tune and the chorus seemed to fit. Perhaps because it is a "growing" song, and Tip does a lot of that through the story. Perhaps because the concept of mercy worked itself more into the novel than I was expecting at the start. Anyhow, it fit.

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace

Marta Rais - Storm by Fernando Ortega. Much of her story is her coming to grips with life, now that so much that was "life" for her is taken away. I love the tenderness of the song, and the way it is both a love song and something more. I love it so much and all of it is so fitting, I had a hard time deciding which bit to use here.

It takes the rain between the lines to know what sorrow finds
The way the cloud divides sometimes
The clearing and the blue...
I love you.

Charlie Bent - He got two. So much for "fairness"; the main character didn't get two. Anyhow, one song that particularly reminds me of Charlie is Owl City's To the Sky. I'm not a big fan of most of Owl City's songs (the lyrics don't make any sense, and I like lyrics to make sense), but for one reason or another the synthesizer-strong tune and the optimistic feel suits Charlie - when he is feeling upbeat. His other song, however, goes down to the other end of his mood-spectrum: After the Last Tear Falls by Andrew Peterson. The sadness and the almost (but not quite) hopelessness captures his other side.

After the last tear falls
After the last secret's told
After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone...
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love.

Jo Darkwood - Sweet Grace by Fernando Ortega. Because Darkwood left a sweetheart back home, and because he never really wanted to go to sea in the first place.

I thought I heard your voice last night
Carried on the wind
Singing lines from old songs,
Calling out all our names again.

So, what songs are especially fitting for your characters?

*I don't recommend all of Heather Dale's songs, nor have I watched Braveheart; I just like the soundtrack. The image for Brother, Stand Beside Me is from the Front Street cover of The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff. All usual disclaimers apply.


  1. Well, here's richness! Not only one group of AbigailPeeps, but three!

    I haven't heard all of these songs, but all the ones I have seem to fit quite seamlessly. The one that "clicked" right away for me, though, was "Windows in the World" for Leah. And "Brother Stand Beside Me" is such a gently glorious song. (I need to listen to "Storm"...)

    Isn't it wonderful how music so often manages to capture the gaps left by our words?

  2. I just had to comment on your post because I have NEVER met another Fernando Ortega fan, and I was thrilled to see that you use his songs for inspiration! His music is very special to me - he really seems to echo so many of my own thoughts and prayers.

    I've never used music to inspire any of my characters, that I'm aware of, but music definitely sets the mood for me when I'm writing. I have to be listening to music appropriate to my setting - if it's an adventure, I have to be listening to Irish or soundtrack music; if it's a period drama, I have to have period music; etc. Do you listen to music when you write?

    Love in Christ,
    Give Me Jesus

  3. Megan - You do need to listen to "Storm." It's a lovely song. And I love how music does that; it's just a pity we can't insert it into our novels.

    Vicki - Yes! I am a Fernando Ortega fan! "Storm," "Home," and "The Breaking of the Dawn" are my favorite CDs. I can't quite figure out how to say it, but I love how he brings his faith into everyday life, how he sings more than just hymns.

    Actually, these songs weren't so much inspirations for my characters as they were songs that I later realized fit my characters. I do often listen to music while I write, sometimes pieces that are fitting (the North & South theme song is especially good for sad scenes), sometimes just anything. I've never been able to do a single playlist for an entire novel, though.

    Thanks for commenting! I love to hear your thoughts.


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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