Written by Dan Krokos
I’m lucky enough to have my dream job. But even though I make up stories for a living, I still seek inspiration outside of books. Music gets me inspired more than anything. I like everything (except for some things). My favorite band is TOOL, but I will rock out to Rihanna. I’d prefer some NIN, but you know what? That Katy Perry song “Who Am I Living For?” is pretty good. It’s actually really good. Don’t look at me like that.
Whenever I sit down to write or revise The Planet Thieves or its sequel, The Black Stars, there’s a core list of songs that keeps me going. When I don’t see what I’m supposed to write next, I’ll throw on one of these songs and they help me sink back into Mason Stark’s world.
Leaving Earth – Clint Mansell
I’m a gamer. My favorite series of all time is Mass Effect. It’s one of the greatest SF stories ever told, and also happens to be an enormous inspiration for The Planet Thieves. This music plays after the first level of the final game. Earth is being invaded; there’s destruction everywhere from machines as tall as skyscrapers. Watch the sequence of Commander Shepard leaving Earth. If you don’t get chills, check your pulse.
I’ve never heard something so sad and full of hope at the same time. When I listen to this, I can’t help but slip into that mindset, no matter what I was feeling before. At the end of this sequence, I sat in front of my computer, completely stunned. The game had barely started.
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
This song is special because I don’t like anything else by this band. When I listen to it, I see a movie trailer in my head consisting of the most exciting parts of my book. If I listen to it a few times in a row, I might add something to that trailer, which I can either discard or keep if it fits into the story.
Lyrics usually don’t matter so much, but these really resonate with me regarding Mason Stark’s path.
Primavera – Ludovico Einaudi
This song is here because it’s timely. I was listening to it just yesterday on a crowded subway, plotting the final moments of The Black Stars with the notes app on my phone.
I am grateful to this song for allowing me to crack something that had been troubling me for a year. This is one I can put on and just let my mind wander. It makes me see new things, and it’s one of the few songs that doesn’t just supply images, but the emotions attached to those images.
I first heard this song while watching a seven minute fan-made trailer for the TV show Fringe, one of my all-time programs. I immediately added the song to my library, and it has never let me down.
Lateralus – TOOL
I have said this before: “Lateralus” is my favorite song of all time, it doesn’t matter what I’m writing. This video is pretty cool. It explains why TOOL is the best band in the world and it shows the lyrics to the song. Just listen to it. It’s almost ten minutes long, so if you want to, you can start at the 5:00 minute mark. This is widely regarded as TOOL’s most important/emotional/complex song. Fans of TOOL have been waiting for a new album since 2006. Take pity on us. Enjoy.
From the Tor/Forge May newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.
More from the May Tor/Forge newsletter:
- Changing the World by Susan Palwick
- Genre Identity Crisis by Paul Cornell
- Ultimate Urban Fantasy Sweepstakes