“Dorian” by Agnes Obel
This is the song I listened to on repeat while drafting THE TURNAWAY GIRLS for the first time. It became the book’s touchstone song, something I returned to whenever I wanted to remember why I was writing it. A song can be a door, and this song was the door to the world of the turnaway girls. I only had to listen to it, and I was transported to an island of mist with black-winged cloisterwings whirling through the air.
“The Brothel” by Susanne Sundfør
This is the song that I found myself more and more drawn to while revising THE TURNAWAY GIRLS. It’s so dark and mournful—and feminist-ragey—and I think it helped me to discover some of the more hidden layers of this book’s heart. The lyrics are incredibly beautiful and sad, and I kept coming back to this line: “There are echoes in the garden/Is anybody listening/There are echoes lost in the garden/Is anybody listening…”
“S.T.A.Y” by Hans Zimmer
A.K.A: the Saddest Song in the World. INTERSTELLAR pretty much gutted me, and this song continued to remind me of the separation between father and daughter, the endless time and space that both tore them apart and brought them together. I especially listened to it when I was working on scenes where secrets were revealed, epiphanies were squandered, and vulnerabilities showed their skins. It’s such a beautiful mix of sadness, hope, and longing.
“Show Me Forgiveness” by Björk
I have always loved the lyrics of this song. They’ve resonated with me deeply since I was about eighteen, and listening to Björk for the first time. This song is off my favourite Björk album, Medulla—an album made entirely out of voices and vocal sounds, which is very Blightsendish! It's a song about forgiving yourself for not remembering your strength, forgiving yourself for letting others dictate who you are―who you should be―and ultimately surviving because you recognise that you are your own safety net. It’s beautiful. And determined. And I’m sure you can see why the heart of its meaning resonates with Delphernia’s story.
Here are the lyrics:
Show me forgiveness
For having lost faith in myself
And let my own interior up
To inferior forces
The shame is endless
But if soon stars forgiveness
The girl might live
“Time Spent” by Deaf Center
This little song, with its lilting piano melody, sounded like a whispered story to me, and that’s why it ended up on my playlist. I like to think of it as the details song, as I listened to it often when I was putting the finishing touches on THE TURNAWAY GIRLS―adding sparks of gold, sewing little iridescent fish scales to the hem of a dress, or etching patterns into metal. It’s the delicate songs that remind me of detail, and the sweeping songs that remind me of the history and future of a story. This, as it turned out, was my zooming-in song.
No you go!
What songs inspired your work in progress?
Do you use music in your writing process?