Music has always been a big part of my life. My mother tells me that when I was very small I used to sing to myself in bed at night. When I was a little older, I sang in the car. I had a fixation on Johnny Cash when I was about six, and cheerfully belted out Fulsom Prison Blues and Ring of Fire as we drove along. Later I learned to play guitar and fell in love with Celtic music. I enjoy other musical genres as well, but the simple, heartfelt tunes I can play and sing myself are closest to my heart. Luckily for me, Nova Scotia has a wonderfully vibrant music scene.
I suppose it’s inevitable that music has found its way into my writing. Martin Rainnie, the hero of McShannon’s Heart, is a talented fiddler who also sings. He gives up his music when his wife dies in childbirth, but finds the will to play again thanks to his baby daughter and Chelle McShannon. Whenever I think of Martin, I think of this tune, She Moved Through The Fair. It’s a haunting story of lost love.
Some authors I know choose music that suits their characters or settings and play it while they write. I don’t – I think I’d find it too distracting – but I do find that my characters evoke songs. Or is it the other way around? If I could score a movie of McShannon’s Chance, this tune, Shady Grove, would be there somewhere. I think Trey would like it.
One of the secondary characters in Chance is a teenaged girl, Holly Greer, who has aspirations to be a professional singer. I gave Holly this tune to sing at the Wallace Flats concert. It’s an old tune I first heard at the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival about fifteen years ago, called Siuil a Ruin. I’ve heard it done as a slow lament, but I think Holly would sing it with less pathos and more youthful defiance. She needed it. I like this version.
It’s an iffy thing, putting music in fiction, but I couldn’t resist. Do you associate music with fictional characters? Do you listen to tunes while you write? Do they influence your writing?