Soundtrack to Story
By Brian Fatah Steele
Music plays a major part in my writing process, as essential as chugging coffee and chain smoking. A new writing project can’t begin until I’ve found the right soundtrack. There have been multiple times that I’ve struggled at the beginning of the writing because the soundscape hasn’t fit the mood I’m trying to capture. My imagination has to be in sync with my music selection.
From interviews and podcasts I’ve taken in over the years, horror writers seem to be big fans of heavy metal. While I’ve definitely been to my fair share of metal concerts, I’m a fan of a wide variety of music genres. Whatever the story calls for is what I listen to during the writing – and that’s all I’ll listen to while I’m at work on that particular project. That said, I won’t listen to whatever my chosen music is away from work until the work is done. I know it sounds weird, but it helps me to fully focus.
The dark cello sound of Zoe Keating and the futuristic post-rock of 65DaysOfStatic are often employed during work on short stories, such as in my upcoming collection Your Arms Around Entropy. When I needed to write an epic, post-apocalyptic novella called “Futureblind” found in my collection Brutal Starlight, I listened to the bold, bombastic EDM band The Glitch Mob. The novella, “The Stitching,” found in Further Than Fate needed the grim, gritty alt-country sounds of Murder By Death.
My sci-fi/horror novel There is Darkness in Every Room required the dark, almost orchestral rock of both God Is An Astronaut and Collapse Under The Empire. Bleed Away the Sky, a UF/cosmic horror novel coming out from Bloodshot Books next year, demanded a sadder, slower feeling, and was written entirely to Lana Del Rey. Another recently completed novel was written to the contemporary metal bands Bring Me The Horizon and Gojira, with the accompanying novelette written to the pop singer Lorde. I just started my next novel, and it’s to the atmospheric folk-metal act Danheim.
VNV Nation, Halsey, Sigur Ros, Panic! At The Disco, Post Malone, Vitamin String Quartet, Tool, The Weeknd, Cryptex, Black Veil Brides, Tegan and Sara, Type O Negative… I’ve written to all of them at least once. A story demanded it. Sometimes I had the music in my own library, sometimes I used Spotify. I feel Spotify is a fantastic app on the computer and should be utilized by more writers to build larger, more diverse soundtracks for their projects.
No matter what you listen to, or if you write in silence, don’t be hesitant of inspiration. Let things move you, touch you. You’ll find little wonders all around you, and some may be surprising. I’m always looking for new music, sounds that will set fire to my imagination. Music, artwork, movies, anything can do it. Channel it and put it into your words. I’ll let you wonder what music I was listening to while I wrote this article.
About Brian Fatah Steele
Brian Fatah Steele has been writing various types of dark fiction for over fifteen years,
from horror to urban fantasy and science fiction. Steele originally went to school for fine
arts but finds himself far more fulfilled now by storytelling. His work has appeared in
such places as 4POCALYPSE, BLOOD TYPE, CTHULHU LIES DREAMING,
DEATH’S REALM, THE IDOLATERS OF CTHULHU, PAYING THE FERRYMAN,
and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated DARK VISIONS, VOL.1. His sci-fi/horror novel
THERE IS DARKNESS IN EVERY ROOM was published by Sinister Grin Press in
March of 2017, and Bloodshot Books will be publishing his novel BLEED AWAY THE
SKY in 2019. His self-published titles include the urban fantasy novel IN BLEED
COUNTRY, the post-mythic novella collection FURTHER THAN FATE, and the dark
sci-fi collection BRUTAL STARLIGHT.
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ABOUT YOUR ARMS AROUND ENTROPY
“There is darkness everywhere. It lingers in wait under your bed and fills the void of
space. Whispers that trickle into your mind when you’re vulnerable and a mass that stirs
in that deeper black that cannot ever possibly be understood. Tales of divergent worlds,
but all enveloped by forces more powerful than any nightmare.
A teenage girl staying with her grandparents for the summer discovers the abandoned
shack on the property still has a terrifying purpose. With a small portion of America
infected with an alien organism, a government envoy is sent in to parlay. A music
journalist investigating a rock band influenced by H.P. Lovecraft stumbles into a far more
harrowing underground scene. What appear to be millions of mimes roam the streets,
killing people or worse. A necromancer’s protégé wonders how much more death can be
summoned before there’s a breaking point. In a world now filled with monsters, a young
woman is slowly dying one day at a time.
Twelve tales of cosmic horror and Lovecraftian nihilism. Stories where you have
accepted the darkness, dove into the abyss, swallowed down the chaos. Stories where
you’ve wrapped your arms around entropy.”
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