One of my biggest sources of inspiration is music; so much so that I gave a presentation at uni on songs that had inspired my writing. It…did not go well. I’d hoped to stimulate conversation amongst my fellow students about what music sparked their imaginations. What I got instead was muted befuddlement. I was eventually told by someone who’d been in the class that the excerpts I played dragged on too long to maintain everyone’s interest, which is something I should have probably realised on my own.
At the risk of having history repeat itself, I thought I’d write about a few of the songs that inspired Vanguard Prime: Goldrush. I’ll try to keep things as spoiler-free…and succinct…as possible!
National Anthem – Radiohead
This was not a song that had to grow on me. I loved it from the very first moment I heard it. It’s dark and hypnotic and brimming with a hard-driving energy, and it’s the song I imagine playing in Machina’s room when sirens start going off to tell her and Sam that something on the Round Table has gone terribly wrong.
Take a Bow – Muse
Not a devastatingly original choice, given its use in one of the trailers for Watchmen, but it’s the song that changed my mind about Muse (well, this and Feeling Good) and its slow-building grandeur is endlessly compelling. It’s the song I played over and over again when first envisioning and then writing the passage where the Overman stuns the Round Table’s crew by demonstrating just how powerful his telekinesis has become.
Runaway – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
I don’t know if you could find a more appropriate song for Sam than this one, which I always felt would work perfectly in the moment where he turns and runs from the Overman, but that would also fit quite comfortably into the passage where he’s describing to Machina what happened to him the day his powers first manifested.
Army of Me – Bjork
Goldrush isn’t the only one piece of writing I’ve had inspired by this track, which remains as energising and…well, cool…as it was when it was first released. It’s a very cinematic piece of music, immediately bringing to mind scenes of action and stalwart determination. You may even notice that I named a chapter after it, which would be the exact same chapter where I imagine it playing.
Heroes – David Bowie
My original vision for the book’s ending involved the members of Vanguard Prime standing on a beach watching the sun go down. It was an image that came to me when listening to this song…which, I’ll admit, is a fairly on-the-nose choice. The book’s ending may have changed somewhat, but the imagery still occurs to me whenever this song plays on my car’s stereo. Side note: David Bowie’s eyes inspired the Knight of Wands’ appearance when his mask is removed, which you’ll learn more about in March when Book 2 is released.
Hero – Childish Gambino
Sticking with the ‘hero’ motif, this song didn’t play a part in inspiring the writing of Goldrush, but it’s one that I can easily imagine Sam loading onto his gauntlet’s MP3 player. Note for younger readers and their parents; track contains explicit lyrics.
Now, I could keep going as I’ve just barely scratched the surface of the music that inspires me – I haven’t even touched on the cinematic scores of Murray Gold, Two Steps From Hell and Daft Punk – but this seems like a pretty good place to wrap up, lest I end up confounding my audience with my self-indulgence all over again. And given how many more books I have to write and how many more songs I have to talk about, I don’t want to burn you all out too quickly!
In the meantime, drop me a line and let me know what songs inspire you when writing. I’m always on the lookout for new music to listen to!
‘Til next time.