Thursday, 5 July 2012

Exploring The White Lands of Empathica, or "how I learned to incorporate music into my writing habits"

Music has long been a love of mine, and after years of longing I have finally begun to learn my favourite instrument: the guitar. There are many reasons why I love the guitar: it requires dexterity (which I lack), co-ordination (which I lack), the strings when strummed correctly produce beautiful music, to name just a few. Recently I began to pen songs for my characters to sing – I have formed a small band to be known as ‘Arctic Wine’ in addition to a mermaid – and I fully intend to compose the music for the songs myself. I often find my ability to write relies on how I feel, and there has been one constant strong musical influence I have always thought of when writing: Nightwish.

Originally, this post was going to be about my three favourite bands to listen to while writing (Nightwish, Rammstein and Blind Guardian), but only the Nightwish fandom responded to me in time enough for this post so I decided to make a mini-series about each band, beginning with Nightwish.

Like any fan, I spend a fair amount of time listening to Nightwish and (obsessively) wandering over various fan-pages on Facebook and Tumblr. In fact, it was on Facebook that I discovered I’m not the only one who finds Tuomas and co to be a constant source of inspiration. Nati, from the Facebook fan-page “Soy Nightwisher@ de corazon, mente y alma,” provided me with this short snippet from a story she wrote based on her interpretations of “The Poet and the Pendulum” and “The Crow, the Owl, and the Dove.” The extract can be found at the end of this post.

My favourite character to write has to be Sylvan Dreyfus (nee Markvard Eriksson), a Finnish vampire. He was originally meant to be one of the good guys, fighting for the Organisation and whatnot, deviating from Richard’s original tale where he is a bad boy, but as I listened to “Planet Hell” I thought “Yeah, this guy needs to be a fucking psycho!” Here are my Top 3 Nightwish-inspired scenes from The Noble Angels thus far:

1.      “The Poet and the Pendulum:” Matt is in deep despair after being unwittingly blamed for the death of his mother, the loss of several friends after being outed as gay, losing his father in a suspicious fire, among other things. This song is essentially one of those suicide notes people write to vent their frustrations, and Matt’s mindset as the story develops is heavily influenced by this song. Death, beauty and silence are common themes in Nightwish songs, and it is these three things Matt longs for the most.
2.      “Planet Hell:” Sylvan. The song is clearly satirical in many ways and the one which sticks in my mind is “mankind works in mysterious ways” which parodies the Christian mantra “God works in mysterious ways.” The song makes many mentions of graphic violence, like that of a battlefield. Sylvan’s psychotic nature is inspired by this song for its fast pace and in-your-face vocals. Sylvan is a psychopath through and through, he lives to kill and kills for the fun of it.
3.      “Last Ride of the Day:” While this particular scene has not been written yet, this song has spurred me on to plan World War Three and, finally, Ragnarök. This will be the bloodiest, most depraved scene I will ever write.

I have many friends who read philosophy, and one of whom does her homework while listening to Nightwish. I believe her exact reaction was “Listening to Nightwish + Doing Philosophy = MINDFUCK.” Listening to “The Poet and the Pendulum,” I could not stop crying because of what it is about, and how I would eventually have to take everything away from the world I have created. The music of Nightwish has not given me ideas; it has given me the energy I need to write and the push in the direction my characters need to take.

Nati’s extract:

“I knew that death was waiting for me, but I would leave this world as a loved person, I would be remembered as the poet who was murdered in the White Lands of Empathica.
All I thought and hoped for was to find a beautiful landscape, like the ones that I used to describe in all my lyrics.
I pictured myself between the waves of the ocean, where my soul had always belonged.
While all my life was going through my mind like images from a movie, I felt how the pendulum went through my body.
I remember that the last word I whispered was: ¡Save me! And then I closed my eyes forever.
In that moment, I felt a cold breeze on my cheeks and I knew that all the suffering was finally over; now I was at home, or at least that was how I felt.
When my soul left my body, I found myself on a seashore.
There was nothing more beautiful than seeing the horizon and hearing the sound the ocean waves.
Finally, I could find that landscape I have always longed for.
I looked quickly to the sky, and I saw a crow, an owl and a dove flying with grace towards me...”


  1. Wonderful post Hannah! I am Nati from the facebook page :D

    1. Thank you Nati :) It felt wonderful writing it and I'm very happy you gave me a flash to include.
      I'm not feeling so wonderful about checking in with the Donaukinder :S As awesome as they can be, they're rather harsh in their sarcasm and honesty.

  2. great post love it so much <3 ( Safae from facebook)