Novel Playlists from Fantasy Novelists treats each fantasy novel like a feature film and encourages the author to put together their own dream soundtrack. And if the 80s taught us anything, it’s the Dead Can Dance, and with any luck so can golems as we follow Ben Galley’s protagonist Task in his latest novel Heart of Stone.
Merciless. Murderer. Monster. He has been called many names in his time. Built for war and nothing else, he has witnessed every shade of violence humans know, and he has wrought his own masterpieces with their colours. He cared once, perhaps, but far too long ago. He is bound to his task, dead to the chaos he wreaks for his masters. Now, he has a new master to serve and a new war to endure. In the far reaches of the Realm, Hartlund tears itself in two over coin and crown. This time he will fight for a boy king and a general bent on victory. Beneath it all he longs for change. For something to surprise him. For an end to this cycle of warfare. Every fighter has a last fight. Even one made of stone.
Mountain At My Gates - Foals
I’ve been following Foals for years, and every one of their albums present more swagger and a bigger sound than the last. This is one of the best tracks from their newest album, and it’s perfect for getting in the mood for the all-important writing session.
Damn Nation - Lower Than Atlantis Another great getting-in-the-mood track, with a bit of a rebellious streak in the lyrics that makes me want to raise a finger to any kinds of doubt or worry when I’m sitting down at the keyboard. One for fans of heavier stuff, too.
We Could Forever - Bonobo I use a lot of instrumental music when I write, as I find that lyrics sometimes distract me. Artists like Bonobo are perfect for evoking a mood without the use of words. This track always puts me in an upbeat mood, which makes it a good soundtrack for lighter, funnier scenes.
Empty Gold - Halsey Halsey’s an artist I’ve recently got into. There’s something bewitching about her voice, especially in this song. The chorus also has a big fat drop, which is always a good thing.
Unstoppable - Sia The lyrics of the chorus qualified this track for The Heart of Stone playlist. It was actually one of the first songs I included. Sia belting words like “unstoppable”, “invincible” and “powerful” tended to fit my golem theme very well.
Megalomaniac - Incubus One of my favourite bands, and one of my favourite tracks from their expansive discography. This ended up being the theme tune for one of the more malicious and egotistical antagonists in the novel.
The Enemy - Memphis May Fire Although my tastes are broad and eclectic, I’ve always been into the heavier side of the musical spectrum. Metal powers a lot of my writing, particularly battles, fast-paced action and scenes of high emotion, so a good chunk ends up making it into the playlist.
Heretics & Killers - Protest The Hero This frenetic track has been one of my favourites for years. Fierce guitar, intense drums, time signature changes, stylistic switches… it’s got it all.
My Obsession - Killswitch Engage When I realised my love of game and film scores crossed over with one of my preferred metal bands, I listened to this song religiously for about two months. Those two months happened to overlap writing The Heart of Stone.
Maggie’s Farm - Rage Against The Machine We can all agree on the majesty that is Rage. Perhaps a fraction unknown compared to their other hits, this Bob Dylan cover is simply feral. When the main riff drops, I feel like I can write for hours. This song is the perfect fuel.
Slow Dance - Arcane Roots This band are a new favourite of mine, primarily due to their relentless and heavy as hillsides breakdowns in every song, no matter how gentle it starts out. Their lighter sections are euphoric and full of soaring lyrics.
Welcome Home, Son - Radical Face This particular track snuck in due to the beauty of the textures—voice, guitar and percussion—and how the chorus drops in. It’s a great mix to listen to through headphones so you can get the width of the soundscape.
To My Mother - Thomas Newman I’ve always found that soundtracks and scores have always been perfect for writing. Thomas Newman is also one of my favourite composers, and his tracks always tend to eature on my playlists. This song has a story to it—switching between graceful and dark over 4 minutes.
The Funeral - Band of Horses A bit of a haunting track, but that’s exactly what I needed. I heard this on another soundtrack to and immediately Shazamed it. Soaring vocals, big chorus, and evocative lyrics — perfect for tense emotional scenes.
Yet Onward We Marched - Joy Wants Eternity I like songs that build from small beginnings into epic cacophonies. I especially like them when I’m writing scenes that escalate in either action or emotion, and this track was perfect. I only wish it was longer, as I find myself repeating this over and over.
Casey’s Song - City and Colour City and Colour have featured in my playlists for years, and for good reason. Dallas Green has a knack for writing simple yet heart-moving songs with nothing but a guitar and some excellent lyrics. There’s something beautiful yet hollow about this track.
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