The Gathering Dark (or Shadow and Bone, as it's known in the US), book one in the Grisha series, is now published in the UK and US and is getting absolutely rave reviews across the board. I haven't read it myself yet, but I do have a shiny copy waiting for me.
To celebrate the release of Leigh's debut novel, Macmillan and Orion joined together to create one giant blog tour spanning both US and UK blogs, and you can find more information about it right here. Leigh has written a great soundtrack piece for me (does she have good music taste or what? I do believe Florence is the Queen!) but before we get to that, here's what The Gathering Dark is all about:
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free? The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?
How good does that sound?! Anyway, that's enough from me. Here's Leigh Bardugo talking about one of my favourite subjects... music!
Leigh's Gathering Dark Playlist!
Hey Jenny, thanks for hosting me on Wondrous Reads!
This is a two-part playlist for The Gathering Dark that I've decided to call "Angst & Atmosphere." I don't usually listen to music when I write, but there are songs I like to use as emotional prompts. These are the Angsty tracks and they put my right into the feeling of a scene or the character's head. (They're also my favorite songs to listen to as I stride along with my headphones in, muttering to myself about plot.) I've included a few lyrics, but not all of them, because I think they're fun to discover on their own. The Atmosphere tracks are a taste of the world that inspired Ravka. It's a very narrow slice of the Slavic musical tradition, but I'm the DJ so I get to pick what I like ;)
Running Up that Hill (Placebo Cover of Kate Bush) Cool, driving intensity. This is the Darkling's song. Power seduces and it isolates, and for me, this is the story of a boy king, alone in his castle. As much as I like Bush's original, there's too much warmth in it, too much empathy. The opening lines of this version have a completely different feel:
It doesn't hurt me
You wanna feel how it feels?
You wanna know, know that it doesn't hurt me?
You wanna hear about the deal I'm making?
I think this is a song about both the Darkling's heart and the face he presents to the world. Tell me we both matter, don't we?
Winter Song (Sarah Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson) I'll be your harvester of light. Sigh. This one slays me. I listened to it constantly in revisions and it takes me right into the wind and cold, the ache of separation. It's broken-hearted, but not quite hopeless, a desperate plea cast out over miles and months apart.
This is my winter song to you.
The storm is coming soon.
It rolls in from the sea
My voice, a beacon in the night.
My words will be your light
to carry you to me.
Is love alive?
Is love alive? Is love...?
Cosmic Love (Florence + the Machine) I know this is a go-to for a lot of YA writers, and why not? Sweeping, cinematic, reckless. It's like mainlining love without caution. I first heard it on SYTYCD. I'd gotten stuck in the draft, and this song jolted me out of days of writer's block. I feel like it belongs to all three of the main characters. (And since Alina is a cartographer, I can't help but love the map reference.)
And in the dark, I can hear your heartbeat
I tried to find the sound
But then it stopped, and I was in the darkness,
So darkness I became
The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
You left me in the dark
No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
In the shadow of your heart
I took the stars from my eyes, and then I made a map
And knew that somehow I could find my way back
Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too
So I stayed in the darkness with you
The Lucky One (Alison Krauss and Union Station) Okay, yes, a little bluegrass. Mal has his own journey to make over the course of the story, but this is how Alina sees him at the start. Things come easily to him in a way they never do for her, and despite the past they've shared, she's a little resentful and genuinely afraid he's leaving her behind.
You're the lucky one
So I've been told
As free as the wind
Blowin' down the road
Loved by many, hated by none
I'd say you're lucky 'cause I know what you've done
Not a care in the world
Not a worry in sight
Everything's gonna be all right
Cause you're the lucky one
Sorrow (Bad Religion)
It is called Tsarpunk, after all. The unofficial motto of the First Army is "Born to Die." They're conscripted serfs who know that they have very little chance of making it out of a centuries-long war alive. Not all of the lyrics work for the FA, but the sentiment feels right and there's something about the line, "What if every living soul could be upright and strong?" that always gets to me.
Poison and Wine (The Civil Wars)
Another heartbreaker, and good gravy, I love the way they harmonize. I'm going to just leave this one at the lyrics:
You only know what I want you to
I know everything you don't want me to
Oh your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine
You think your dreams are the same as mine
Oh I don't love you but I always will
I always will
I wish you'd hold me when I turn my back
The less I give the more I get back
Oh your hands can heal, your hands can bruise
I don't have a choice, but I still choose you
Oh I don't love you but I always will
I always will
Now, let's talk ATMOSPHERE...
It's actually fairly hard to find good recordings on youtube, but here are a few:
The Two Young Lovers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4NxGDCvEBk&feature=related (The translation on these lyrics is kind of adorably naughty. It starts with "That’s not a barrel rolling around in the cellar.")
Polegnala e Todora (Love Song) from Le mystère des voix bulgares http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBY98KJig5I
This is the Yale Women's Slavic Chorus singing the Dove Song. You can hear the Dove's call in the voices and when that third voice kicks in at :40, CHILLS. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq9XwUvJ-dw&feature=related
And if you find you like this type of thing, check out "Little Clouds In the Sky" as sung by The Kuban Cossack Women's Choir on iTunes.
I also need to shout out Prokofiev's "Lieutenant Kijé." I remember hearing Sting's song "Russians" in the car as a kid. I could never get this little bit of melody out of my head. I had no idea he'd sampled it from Prokofiev until my choir teacher heard me humming it and played the original for me. It's probably the first piece of Russian music I ever heard. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1scluzlPz0