Atmosphere is a huge part of writing. When I’m writing dark fiction especially, I need to be able to see myself in a scene that is eerie, or evokes a mysterious or creepy feeling. My writing seems to thrive when writing about places with an unknown history whether they be quirky or just downright scary. Not only is it just trying to put myself inside of that atmosphere, it is creating an atmosphere where a person has a connection with this creepy place, one that is usually out of reluctance. They’ve come back to it after a long period of time, they are going to it against their will, or they are going there with the sole purpose to finding out what happened to it. When it comes to my writing on that subject, I have a nearly endless library of things to choose from. However, there is one band who really brings a human element to these places. It’s not just instrumental, there is some voice there too to bring it all home. That, my friends, is Snow Patrol for me.
Snow Patrol is a Northern Irish/Scottish alternative rock band that formed in 1994. Gary Lightbody is the lead vocalist and easily captures people’s hearts with the ballads he sings. I discovered Snow Patrol on a trip to New York back in 2006 and was instantly hooked by their song “You’re All I Have”. From there, I investigated their other albums, picking favorites here and there from their other albums and being influenced by them toward certain writing projects. Their music has inspired a number of different works from me, most notably parts of The Monstrum Chronicles and my in-progress novella, “Night Time, Dotted Line.” Today, I’ll be sharing 5 of their songs with you and what I think about when I listen to them.
Run: A grey city in the night. A character runs through a heavy down-pour beneath a red umbrella, moving toward an unknown destination. He needs to get there in time, but isn’t sure what he’ll find when he gets there. It could be a scene that will forever be burned into his brain, a scene that he’s not ready for in the gruesomeness that it holds. He knows, too, that if he does make it in time, he could be the thing that stops the bad from happening. He could be the one to save her. He stops and looks at the street signs, complete confusion abounding him. If only he knew where he was and how to get where he needed to go. A faint light from the darkness and gloom ahead reaches him. He races to it. It’s a bus stop bench with a lit-up map inside. He smiles as he sees the street name he’s been blindly searching for. Into the dark, he races again.
Set Fire to the Third Bar: The bar is nearly empty early that morning. She’s been sitting alone at a table for hours and hours, the same drink sitting in front of her. The bartender has been over several times, asking her if she wants something different, asking if she needs a ride home. She waves him off, just needing to be away from home for the evening. She’s never been to this place before and though she’d worried that she would be heckled the entire evening by some of the other patrons, no one even stopped over to say a word. She’s thankful, but also lonely. This could be the beginning of a new day. She wants to go home and pack up her things in the remaining darkness of the morning, leave without a single trace of her being left. He would never have to know that she had even come back. But she knows she can’t. She’s not brave enough. And the drink isn’t helping. She almost doesn’t notice when the man sits down across from her, too wrapped up in her own thoughts. But when she finally looks up, she sees him, staring at her with a concern that doesn’t seem fake or creepy in any way. He reaches over and takes her hand in his. She finds herself gripping his fingers back, the act lighting a warmth inside of her that hadn’t been ignited in so long. Maybe she has the strength now, knowing that she really isn’t alone out here. People still care.
The Lightning Strike -What if this Storm Ends?: He remembers the first time he heard her sing. The cadence immediately silenced him, tossed his mind into a place where memory reigned. He could suddenly remember little things about his life that he thought he’d forgotten. Things he’d wanted to forget yet, some power kept them in the deepest recesses of his mind. When she stopped singing, all he could think about was how special she was, how she needed to be protected at all costs, and how he’d never rest until she was truly safe. He grips his hands around the steering wheel as the car races forward into the darkness, the snow coming down in sheets and slowly blanketing the landscape. (This is a scene that inspired some parts of Aequitas and parts of Book 4 in The Monstrum Chronicles. Something about its melody reminds me of falling snow. It should be noted that the original ‘Lightning Strike’ has three parts that are all integrated into one. The first part “What if this Storm Ends?” is the only one I’m referencing in this part.
Fallen Empires: He looks up into the overcast sky, spying a bird as its silhouette swoops in and out of the streams of light coming from it. He realizes he’s made a terrible mistake. He was lured into a trap, lured to the wrong conclusion. He whips his head toward the house off in the distance and sees the lights suddenly go out from within. That’s where he was supposed to be… not here. He spins around with such force that it nearly knocks him off his feet and races toward the house. The people behind him yell after him in alarm, not understanding his sudden reason for taking off. But he doesn’t have the time to tell them. He needs to get there now.
An Olive Grove Facing the Sea (2009 Version): On a bench over-looking the ocean, she begins to remember. She’d walked home from school that day, pushing her bike beside her. They were in the thick of autumn, the trees a mass of orange and red leaves, the wind brisk and cold. She pulled her sweater closer as she took the bike through the path in the park. She remembered taking the bend between the cypress trees toward the old olive tree that sat in the middle of the park. And beneath it, there he was. He was propped up against the trunk, arms crossed behind his head, and eyes closed in a blissful sleep. She stops walking and just stares at him. Above the clouds rumble. Isn’t he at all worried about getting wet? Or of catching a cold? She begins to keep walking, as if to go passed. But the thunder crackles again and this time, she can feel little drops striking the backs of her hands and into her red hair. She glances back at the man. He’s still fast asleep. She walks over to him, lays her bike on the ground, and gently shakes his shoulders, telling him to wake up. He opens his eyes and looks into her face, dazedly. The first words out of his mouth confuse her. “Have I died and gone to Heaven?”
My apologies for having this post up so late in the week for you all. I also would like to take a moment to announce that Cooking Adventures will be delayed another day or so. Lobster is kind of a daunting thing for me, guys. Give me a little bit of extra time on this one.
Next week on Inspiration Through Music, I’ll be looking at Petri Alanko’s score for the brilliant game Alan Wake. Stay tuned!