A Little Write Music #36: FOTL Playlist Edition

Dec 03, 2016 Main blog 4 comments

Happy December, friends!

I’ve been hard at work drafting Book 2, as most of you know, but I had to take almost a whole week off unexpectedly. I’ve been having a lot of pain in my right shoulder and neck from all of the computer use (my full-time job is also desk work), so I had to rest. I’m feeling better, but trying to be more cautious. I tend to lose myself in my writing and don’t realize 3-4 hours have passed with me sitting in the same exact position!

If you are a writer, make sure to rest and take care of your body. And make sure your workstation is as ergonomic as you can make it (monitor at eye level, elbows low and near your sides, feet flat on the floor, etc). I’m planning to buy a standing desk and ergonomic chair for writing soon, but until then, I am trying to switch positions often, take breaks, and stretch as much as possible. Check out this post I did about stretches I often use.

Aside from that, things have been going well! Book 2 is a continuation of the story of FOTL, but it’s told from a different main character’s perspective, so drafting it feels totally fresh and new to me. It still blows my mind that I am finally writing a story I’ve had in my head and heart for almost 20 years. Book 2’s story (of an exiled princess reclaiming her kingdom) is actually the story I envisioned when I first had the idea for FOTL. Xifeng’s story (the name is pronounced SHE-fung) came after that, when I decided I wanted to tell the queen’s tale as a prequel.

My playlist for this series is growing and growing, and I thought it might be fun to share some more pieces from it!

Coldplay’s “Paradise” has been a mainstay on the playlist since I first heard it. Something about the lyrics (When she was just a girl, she expected the world / But it flew away from her reach, so she ran away in her sleep) made me think of Book 2’s main character, Jade.

Here’s a cover of the song I really enjoy from the Piano Guys:



I have loved Loreena McKennitt’s music since the first time I heard it in the film version of THE MISTS OF AVALON (terrible movie, wonderful book and my Holy Grail fantasy). When I went to Ireland, our tour guide Fiona brought along her copy of Loreena’s 1994 album, The Mask and the Mirror, and we listened to it often while driving through beautiful Galway.

What I love about her music and about Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble is that they incorporate lots of different instruments from China, the Middle East, India, Eastern Europe, and many more. It’s so perfect for FOTL Book 2, which is more of an epic fantasy than Book 1 in that it features a quest across a sprawling continent and weaves in many different cultures and countries.

This piece, starting at the 2:45 mark, is a perfect example:



I have about seven stations on Pandora with all kinds of instrumental music and movie soundtracks. Here’s one that popped up on my Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon station (Tan Dun’s music is unbelievably beautiful, by the way, if you haven’t listened to it).

It’s called “Saiun” by the Yoshida Brothers, who are shamisen virtuosos. My brother, who plays guitar, told me they also have a lot of great guitar stuff:



If you follow certain high-profile authors online (like Susan Dennard and Sarah Maas), I’m sure you have heard of Two Steps From Hell, a group that specializes in epic/trailer-like music. That’s how I learned about them, because I had never heard of them before!

Honestly, most of TSFH’s work is hit-or-miss for me, but there are some excellent pieces I enjoy and “Casablanca” is one of them. This is one that incorporates some cool vocals and makes me think of a certain scene I’ve planned in Book 2 where Jade and her guardians race across the desert:



I fell in love with Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s score for “Finding Neverland” the first time I saw the movie. It’s the perfect blend of whimsical, hopeful, and melancholy, and here’s a piece that perfectly encapsulates that feeling. This is “Peter,” and it’s perfect for a scene I’m about to write where Jade makes it through the forest and finds a benevolent guardian who may mean more to her than she knows:



And, last but not least, here’s a super epic one that came up on my Hans Zimmer Pandora station. This is “Lacrimosa Dominae” by Immediate Music, and I need more music like it to get me through this gigantic battle scene at the end of Book 2. If you have recommendations, feel free to share them in the comments or DM me!



That was fun! I love sharing all the music I write to and I’ve been doing it since 2010, so if you want to see all of the “A Little Write Music” posts over the years, click here.

Of course, I have also been listening to the Hamilton Mixtape, which I purchased the day it came out. I LOVE it, so so so much. Some highlights for me: Regina Spektor and Ben Folds’ exquisite cover of “Dear Theodosia” (what a GORGEOUS song to begin with); Usher’s version of my favorite song in the entire musical, “Wait For It”; Kelly Clarkson’s heartbreaking rendition of “It’s Quiet Uptown”; Ashanti and Ja Rule reuniting for “Helpless”; Dessa’s amazing turn as bad-ass older sister Angelica Schuyler in the song “Congratulations”; and the phenomenal “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” (We are America’s ghost writers, the credit’s only borrowed) which made me want to go out, fight tyranny, and punch a neo-Nazi or two.

On that note, I’ve been thinking of doing a 2016 recap post, because it has been such an amazing year in my life. Yet it has been a truly awful year for our country and it frankly seems disrespectful to be so joyful. I know many of us feel helpless and hopeless in the face of so much rampant bigotry and intolerance. The truth is that hatred triumphed this year, and I don’t know what else to do but to keep on keeping on. In the midst of calling reps and signing petitions and donating what we can (whether it be time or money), I do think it’s important to remember what makes us happy.

All that is to say… I’m not sure whether I will blog again this year. If I don’t, I want to thank each and every one of you for reading my words and cheering me on. This success belongs to you as much as it does to me. I fully credit the writing community for helping me achieve my dream, and I am proud to stand alongside many of you as 2017 comes nearer. May it bring us more dreams fulfilled and friendships forged, and help us make it through the difficult times ahead.

Love to you all.

♥ J


4 Responses to “A Little Write Music #36: FOTL Playlist Edition”

  1. Camille says:

    I have a few recs for battle music!! (I may be a little obsessed with movie soundtracks and epic music haha.)

    -“The Battle” from Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe soundtrack
    -“The Battle” from Gladiator soundtrack
    -“Barbarian Horde” from Gladiator soundtrack
    -“The High Seas” from the Assassin’s Creed 4 soundtrack
    -“Wars of Faith” by Audiomachine
    -“Obsidian” by Audiomachine
    -“Waking the Sleeping Giant” from God of War II soundtrack
    -“Battle for Asylia” from Lair soundtrack
    -“At Wit’s End” from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End sountrack

    Sorry, that’s a bunch. But like I said, I’m a little obsessed!

    • Julie C. Dao says:

      Thank you so much! We have the same taste in music… four of those are already on my playlist and I’ll check out the others!

  2. We share a lot of musical taste, at least while we’re writing!

    “Lacrimosa Dominae” is actually by Immediate Music (“Trailerhead” is the album title), and they have also released albums under the name “Globus.” If you liked the added vocals in TSFH’s Casablanca, you might really enjoy the Globus albums, which often share music with the Immediate Music cuts but reinterpreted.


Julie C. Dao