Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Gathering Dark Blog Tour: Leigh Bardugo's Playlist!

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 (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

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.

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.


Lisa said...

This sounds so good and the cover is beautiful.

Stepping Out of the Page said...

Not impressed with the use of a Kate Bush cover rather than the original (but hey, everyone knows I'm too obsessed with her!) - though it's such a fantastic song, can't deny that. Pleased to see Florence there too! Great choices for a great book!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I love Placebo's version of Running up that Hill, so I'm so happy to see that one on the list. I love author's playlists. Great post...thanks for the explanations, Leigh!

And Jenny...I really like the UK cover. I need to read this one.


Hazal said...

I love checking out author playlists because I often find at least one song I like and can use when I want to write something inspirational!

TayteH said...

Interesting songs. I like them. :D

diyanawan said...

Fabulous playlist for a fabulous book! That Profokiev is amazing.

I do have a question though: Does anyone know what song is playing in Leigh's 'Historical Inspiration' video?

I can't seem to get it out of my head...

- Diyana Wan

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