To celebrate my recent cover reveal through Bookish, I decided to write a quick post about one of my primary writing habits during drafting and editing — listening to music. Moreover, building out a book playlist and searching for songs that I feel represent the overall emotions of the book or even specific scenes. Let me tell you, Spotify delivers.
If you weren’t already aware, there’s a fun little tab at the top of my website called Playlists that you can visit to see exactly what I listen to when I write. There’s an inspiration playlist and a Kingdom of Exiles playlist — today, we’ll be doing a deep dive into the latter! So buckle up, get ready for some feels (I love dark feels-y music) and let’s take a look at some of my song choices.
Dark vibes and good times
If I could have one person write/perform/sing an official soundtrack for Kingdom of Exiles, it would be Halsey. (Hey, Halsey, don’t mind me — I’m just over here, fangirling over your music and wishing you had the time/desire to do a soundtrack for my book. No big deal.) Her musical aesthetic is so in line with my vision for the story, and I would just DIE of happiness if that ever became a thing. Even one song. Pretty please?
Okay, now that my plea is out in the universe (c’mon, powers that be!), let’s talk about my book playlist in earnest (of course, Halsey is on it).
Given that Kingdom of Exiles isn’t out yet (unless you run over to NetGalley NOW and request it!), most of the songs I’ll discuss will be in vague detail to avoid spoilers. If you have gotten a hold of an early version, see if you can follow along and figure out what scenes I’m referring to!
You Should Know Where I’m Coming From by BANKS and Man or a Monster (feat. Zayde Wolf) by Sam Tinnesz, Zayde Wolf
The first two songs on my playlist don’t give away much in terms of story, so I’ll jump in a bit deeper here. BANKS’s song 100% revolves around my main female character, Leena. Exiled from her kind for an act she didn’t commit (first chapter, I swear), she’s lived on the outskirts of society, trading beasts on the black market in order to survive.
For Leena, this is a huge source of internal conflict. She comes from a race of people known as Charmers, and they value their relationship with beasts above all else. And yet, because she can’t find work in normal society, she’s forced to trade beasts for money. Because of the position she’s in, she’s jaded and has built walls to protect herself from any emotion that could resemble trust, as it’s the very thing her people shattered.
This whole song by BANKS is a plea for someone to understand the life she lives. Leena doesn’t view herself as someone who’s “good” and would rather push people away — that love isn’t something she can obtain, but solitude is fine by her. While she didn’t physically burn her home (or even metaphorically like the song suggests), she was burned from it, and her entire motivation is to rise above the lies they spread about her existence.
The second song by Tinnesz is all about Noc (no surprise, there!). Noc is my main male character, and because of some really deep, dark history (and self-loathing and spoilers, so not a TON of details here), he’s not entirely sure if he’s a man or a monster. Most of the time, he thinks he’s the latter and forces himself to act that way by being cold and distant (okay, seriously, no more or SPOILERS). Not to mention he works as an assassin and his hands “have the power to kill” like the song suggests, which is a profession he didn’t expect to have.
American Man by Jake Scott
Really, this is just Noc inspiration. No particular scene/plot line, but just another look into how he views himself, especially early on in the book.
Devil Side by Foxes, Like You by EXES and Is There Somewhere by Halsey
Leeennnaaaa. And Noc. I have a feeling that a lot of this is going to be SPOILER, so let me apologize right here and now if that’s the remainder of these lines, haha.
Also, Halsey. You knew it was coming.
Parking Lots by Ciele, Mapps
Okay, so this one might be a little out of left field, especially since there are no parking lots in my novel (fantasy, folks), but it’s more about the concept. And if you’re at all familiar with how the romantic arc develops in novels, well, you know there are going to be problems.
I Know You by Skylar Grey
Some of you might recognize this from Fifty Shades of Grey, but this is a total Noc/Leena feels. I can’t say more, or even when this vibe starts, but yeah. Love.
Ghost by Halsey, Shadow Preachers by Zella Day and Lit by Happy Sometimes
Halsey. I just… so many chills. I can’t wait for y’all to read this and see if you get the same vibe. I really love the play on “nighttime creatures” in Zella Day’s song, too, both in the way Noc and Leena view themselves and externally with their work.
Feeling Sounds by KingVodka, Will Gittens
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m in love with techno, anime-style music, house, trance, dubstep, etc. While there isn’t a lot of that style that creeps up in my book playlist, this is probably the closest you’ll get (there are a few more that have elements of this style). It’s a bit lighter in terms of the vibe, but the words themselves really aren’t that uplifting, haha. And I’m a sucker for lyrics in songs, so there you have it.
I Found by Amber Run
Okay, show of hands — how many of you are Teen Wolf fans? I first heard this song on that show and nearly DIED. It’s just SO good. And it really does fit with the vibe for a few scenes in my story, so there’s that.
Fire and Ice by Olivia Bray
I really don’t have words. The FEELS. Also, there’s a super secret hidden egg in here. Just sayin’.
Infinity by Niykee Heaton, So Dope by Violet Days and My Love Is a Weapon (feat. Delacey) by Skrux, Delacey
These are overall emotional vibes. Basically, I can’t say anything else, haha. Some of these lyrics just kill me.
hate u love u by Olivia O’Brien
Okay, so I REALLY can’t say anything about the scene this song represents, but let me just say that the song does deviate a tad. I can’t explain without spoilers, but if you’ve read it, you know it’s more about the sentiment in here and the vibe vs. some of the lyrics.
Razorheart by Violet Days, Dynasty by MIIA and River of Tears by Alessia Cara
If these songs don’t represent the romantic arc’s climax in a book, then I don’t know what does. I mean… the feels.
Fun fact, Dynasty is one of my favorite songs. I can listen to this on repeat without tiring of it. Like ever. There’s only one other song on this list like that, and you can bet it’s going to crop up soon. (Probably next. *Checks playlist* Yup. There it is.)
Faded by Alan Walker
This is one of the first songs I added to my book playlist. If I check my add dates, I think it’s like No. 5. But, if you flip over to my inspiration playlist, I’ve loved it for longer than I created this playlist. When I first heard this song, I immediately thought of Noc.
If you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that a lot of my inspiration comes from my dreams. And Kingdom of Exiles is no exception. I dreamt of Noc first, of his internal plight and the conflict he felt, and every time I listen to this song, I think of him. Like Dynasty, this song can stay on repeat for all my life and I would never complain. ESPECIALLY knowing how it ties into my story.
This song and that dream started it all.
Surrender by Natalie Taylor and Rush Over Me (feat. HALIENE) by Seven Lions, ILLENIUM, Said the Sky, HALIENE
General feels post one particular pivotal moment. Yeah. My poor characters.
Deep End by Ruelle and Still Here by Digital Daggers
These songs are VERY scene-specific. I wonder if you can pick it out? (Muahaha.)
Call Me Devil by Friends in Tokyo
Also scene-specific. Also gives me chills. I really REALLy want to know if y’all can pick these out or not.
The Woods by Olivver the Kid
So I’m a terrible person and realized I had ended this playlist WITHOUT a redemption song. I mean, I know I love dark and ominous vibes, but for the love of my characters, I gotta give them something. So, I’ve had this song on a different playlist for a while (perhaps book two in the Beast Charmer series?), and I ended up moving it here.
Okay, I won’t be coy — it really was the first song on book two’s playlist BECAUSE I thought it tied the final events of book one into book two. Which means, it can certainly go here. And I love this song, it’s got a good vibe, and is scene-specific. So there. Redeemed.
Another book playlist to come
So there you have it, my complete book playlist for Kingdom of Exiles. I create these for every project I start (even the half-baked ideas still cluttering up my Spotify), so you can bet there will be more in the future (including one for book two!).
If y’all enjoy this, maybe I’ll do an update on this post after KoE has been out for a while with more in-depth explanations to see if you matched up the right scenes!
And in case you missed it, here’s the book trailer!