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Let me put you in picture, let me show you what I mean….

It’s no secret that I’m a total music nerd.  My wardrobe has more band t-shirts than anyone I’ve ever seen, I worked in a record shop of eight years, and I like few things more than grubbing through old dirty boxes of records for hours in search of some gem I might not already have. I like everything from Abba to Zwan, and I’ll listen to almost anything.

But when it comes to writing fiction, I need silence, or at least music without words, because for me it’s all about the words.  Bristol SF writer Gareth L Powell writes to film scores, and particularly recommends Clint Mansell’s excellent soundtrack to “Moon” (equally excellent, go and buy a copy – Sam Rockwell deserves to be more highly recognised for this alone).  And SF soundtracks can be inspirational when you’re writing SF.  But what if you’re writing fantasy? Fantasy soundtracks seem to lack some of the inspirational qualities of SF ones.


SFMags top ten list is dominated by SF, although notably with Howard Shore’s “Lord of The Rings” soundtracks at number one.  Ferreting about, it seems that Fantasy soundtracks incline towards either Prog* (Tangerine Dream’s godawful “Legend” soundtrack) or modern rock (Knights Tale, Labyrinth, which are both great, but lack a certain atmosphere.  And, beautiful as it is, you can’t just listen to LOTR over and over and over…

I know a number of fantasy writers who recommend symphonic metal such as Nightwish and Rasputina, or modern medieval-style groups like the Medieval Babes, who are worth watching as well as listening to, if you’re a fan of beautiful women singing rude songs about where a man can sheath his sword (and who isn’t?)

Like I said, it’s often about the lyrics, at least for me.  And I’m going to look at taking inspiration from song lyrics in the follow-up to this post.  But what I’d like to know is, what do you recommend listening to when you write? Can you write to music at all?  And how does music affect your writing?

*I know I said I listen to almost anything, but I do make an exception for Prog 😉