Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Blythe Gifford – Words & Music

I love words and music, though I can only create in one of those dimensions.  And even before I became an author, I loved books and music together.  Years ago, I remember deliberately reading GONE WITH THE WIND while listening to the movie soundtrack because I knew it would put me in the proper mood.

Now, I use music as a writing aid, not just for reading pleasure.  For every book, I develop a “soundtrack” that puts me in the proper frame of mind.  Because I write historical romance, I try to select music appropriate to the period, preferably without lyrics.  Since I write primarily medievals, however, lyrics are less of an issue, since they are usually in Latin or French and, therefore, easy to tune out.

But the first song on the playlist for my work in progress is not constrained by accuracy and it usually does include a lyric that tells a story.  The job of this track is to keep me company while I open my files and make my cup of tea, and while it needs to tie to the story, it can do so in a more tangential way than the rest of the selections.

When I began the Brunson Clan trilogy, I felt as if I needed every aid I could summon to put myself in the world.  The world of the Border Reivers in the early Tudor era was 150 years away from the medieval world I’d been writing and Scotland was still a relatively new setting for me.  I found the perfect entry point, a song called “Border Reiver.”  Never mind that Mark Knopfler’s song was about a truck.  Not only was the title perfect, the lyrics (“I'm just a thiever stealing time”) perfectly captured the world of a Reiver, who lived by his own code, not that of the law.  And the relentless, rolling rhythm reminded me of the galloping horses of the Scottish raiders who struck by night and then disappeared into the hills. 

The song list for THE WITCH FINDER was completely different.  The story, set on the Scottish Borders of the 17th century, features a hero whose job it is to discover witches and a heroine who he suspects of being a witch.  Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” was a natural lead in.  The song, from the late 1960’s, has a dark, mysterious, baleful feeling which always left me ready to plunge into the dark world of my story.

In contrast, the kick off song for my Royal Wedding stories is bouncy and humorous, unlike the books.
SECRETS AT COURT, a March Harlequin Historical and the first of the Royal Wedding stories, is set behind the scenes of the wedding of the first Prince of Wales to a scandalous bride.  The heroine, Anne of Stamford, knows her lady’s secrets and is bound to keep them while the hero, Sir Nicholas Lovayne, is charged with uncovering the truth.  And the fate of the throne of England will depend on the results.

Still, “The Prince is Giving a Ball,” which sets up the Rogers and Hammerstein 1957 musical “Cinderella,” was a good choice for my first song slot.  It opens with an energetic trumpet fanfare, and, of course, the story of a prince searching for a bride is the perfect fit.  Its sly, 20th century humor gives me a smile before I drop into a world in which a wedding could, literally, be a matter of life and death.

So, as a reader, do you like music or silence when you read?  Lyrics or no?  We’ll pick a random commenter to win a copy of SECRETS AT COURT.  

Here’s a bit more about the book:

Anne has long been the keeper of her mistress's secrets, but when Nicholas starts to uncover the truth about Lady Joan's past, Anne must do something—anything—to throw him off…. 
Longing to escape the intrigues at court, Nicholas hasn't counted on the way Anne attracts him—her refusal to accept pity for her clubfoot touches something deep inside him. Will he be able to follow his duty when every fiber of his being tells him to protect Anne? 

For more information, please visit

***Blythe's winner is Fedora!  Please email with your mailing details!***


erin said...

I like silence. I usually get so engrossed/involved while reading, that TV/music is just a waste of electricity since I don't hear it :) Thanks for sharing and congrats on the new release!

Cathy P said...

It doesn't really matter to me. When I read, I tend to tune everything out except what I am reading.

Fedora said...

I tend to prefer quite, or music without words. I guess I'm easily distracted :) Lovely cover, Blythe!

Mary Preston said...

I like it quiet when I read. Noise just distracts.

Laurie G said...

I always had music playing in the background when I did homework. However, when I read I prefer no distractions.

Di said...

mostly quiet, once in a while I'll have some music playing but it's better if there aren't lyrics - I'll start singing along and get distracted.