I love music.

I love to listen to it. I love to sing to it. If the occasion arises, I even like to dance to it. Sometimes, I don’t even mind if a certain song or melody gets stuck on repeat in my head. Like right now as I listen to Coldplay sing “A Sky Full of Stars” just to me. (It was one of the last tunes to pop up on my playlist as I mall walked this morning. Yes, I mall walk. Don’t judge.)

I also love to watch movies, but even more than that, I love listening to the soundtrack playing behind the scenes as I’m watching. (Unless there is no soundtrack, which can sometimes do more for a scene than music can. For example, the soundtrack to the Harry Potter films has become iconic and is very connected to the film franchise. If you hear just the first few bars of the franchise’s theme music, you know exactly what you’re about to see on screen. However, in the last two films, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 and 2, there are scenes–quiet scenes, scenes of desperation–during which no music is playing at all. While watching these films, I’ve found the lack of music not only disconcerting, but also a scene strengthener. The audience must engage with the characters’ emotions through the lighting, the scenery, and the actors’ faces and voices alone. There is no music to help us feel what we’re supposed to feel. It’s downright haunting and one of the reasons I love those films so much.)

As a child, I watched a lot of movies, especially musicals. I spent numerous hours singing “Tomorrow” and “Maybe” from Annie–mostly to myself. I had a cassette tape of the complete soundtrack to Disney’s The Jungle Book that I would listen to for hours on end. In elementary school, I was picked to sing the first line of lyrics from An American Tail‘s theme song “Somewhere Out There” to a huge gymnasium full of people. Even with my transition to pop music as a teenager and classical music in college, movie and musical soundtracks still held a special place in my heart, and they continue to do so today.

As an author, I sometimes lose myself in wondering what soundtrack I would create if the piece of writing I’m working on at that moment were ever adapted to film. There is already a growing playlist of songs on my phone entitled “GO Soundtrack”, a list of music that I would love to have playing throughout an imagined screen adaptation of The Golden Orb. Yes, I know it’s usually not the writer or screenwriter’s job to choose the music for films, but a girl can dream (or become a film producer, thus being able to make some of those more important decisions, like creating the soundtrack). Just to give an idea of the type of music I like and what I think would work well for The Golden Orb, here is a list, in no particular order, of some of the songs I’ve added to the Golden Orb Soundtrack playlist:

“Please Stay” and “Soul Swimming” by Beecake, an up and coming band, whose lead vocalist is none other than the very talented actor (and singer) Billy Boyd. Many people know him as Pippin from the Lord of the Rings franchise. He gave us a taste of that luxurious voice of his in The Return of the King when he was asked to sing for the Steward of Gondor. What many people may not know is that Billy actually wrote that short melody for the movie and was then asked to write another song, called “The Last Goodbye”, to play over the credits of the final film of The Hobbit trilogy. All of Beecake’s music is amazing, but the two particular songs I listed have certain lyrics that echo some of the themes in The Golden Orb. In “Please Stay”, the protagonist of the song says, “You say we should walk when it calls/Just move on don’t stop, or you’ll fall”, which could describe Gabby’s fear of abandonment and her difficult relationships with others. In the main chorus of “Soul Swimming”, Billy sings:

“I feel the doubt ripping strips from my heart.
While my imperfections they threaten to tear me all apart.

Somebody help me, is there someone out there?
Someone console me and show me that you care

Because I’ve dived too deep and I’m trying
I’m tryin’ hard just to breathe.”

I feel like Gabby struggles with doubt a lot in The Golden Orb, and near the end of the book, she literally has a hard time breathing.

“Drive” by The Cars, an oldie that reminds me of my childhood listening to 80’s rock in the car with my parents. The entire song is filled with questions (mainly, “Who’s going to drive you home tonight?”), and it fits perfectly with the scene near the beginning of The Golden Orb when Gabby must rely on Lucas for a drive home. Plus, the entire song speaks volumes about Lucas’s willingness to take care of Gabby, even though she continually tries to push him away.

“Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane. There are two lines in the song that immediately made me want to add it to the list: “I came across a fallen tree” and “Is this the place I’ve been dreaming of?”. They fit so perfectly with my book, either describing particular scenes or just conveying the mood of the fantasy setting. Also, “So why don’t we go/Somewhere only we know?” describes Gabby’s occupation as a Fae Agent to a tee.

“Fix You” and “Paradise” by Coldplay. I’m such a fan of Coldplay. I love both their lyrics and their offbeat music. These two particular songs could be thought of as the basic heart of The Golden Orb. Their lyrics and overall sound have a haunting, fantastical mood that’s perfect for the Fae Realms and Gabby’s many struggles.

“Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence. Basically, the whole “Wake me up inside” chorus of the song is a description of the climax of The Golden Orb, when Gabby is sort of awakened in a rather violent, but meaningful way.

There are more songs on my list, but these are the first that come to mind. I just finished revising a science fiction/speculative fiction novel recently, and it’s being sent to beta readers and an editor as I write this post. While waiting for it be reviewed, edited, and commented upon, I’ve been thinking about what songs might go well with its imagined film version. Coldplay and Beecake are already on the top of the list.

And as for the musical score of The Golden Orb (or any adaptation of my work), I would ask my friend Steve Wolbrecht to compose for me. As part of the core of The Dead Gentlemen crew, Steve composes the music for most of their productions. He has a wonderful ear for the dramatic as well as the fantastic. Just listen to the soundtracks to The Gamers: Hands of Fate (especially starting at 8:53 of episode 13) and JourneyQuest, and you’ll understand what I mean. I once told him that if I ever needed a soundtrack for my life, I’d have him write it.

As for my life anthem or the song I would want playing over my final credits, I think it will forever be “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen.

Now that you’ve had a glimpse of my music playlist, what are you listening to at the moment? And if you could put together your own film soundtrack, what songs would you choose?

Thanks for reading (and listening).

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a writer and stay at home mom who lives in a southern Indiana woods with her spouse, kids, and one clingy dog. In the Before Times (and sometimes even now), she could/can be found helping out with her kids' school, catching up on her toppling TBR pile, playing games with her friends, hanging out at virtual conventions, crying over period dramas, or sewing yet another cosplay. Her second novel, "When We Were Forgotten," was the winner of the 2018 Bronze Medal for Best Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book from the Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards. She writes short speculative fiction and poetry that can be found at various markets and here on her blog.

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