Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Loreena McKennitt's The Book of Secrets

Every artist has a unique creative process that enables them to do what they do. It's something that provides stability and routine--that helps them to find their way back into "the zone" of their respective creative outlet. For some, it's rituals or a particular setting while for others it might be something familiar that helps them to engage.

The single most important component of my writing process is music. It serves myriad purposes ranging from blocking out sounds and providing background noise to evoking a specific mood or memory. I've crafted entire playlists for single characters and have had whole sections influenced by a single song (the "Darkness" chapters, for one).

When I first began writing The Lion in the Desert more than thirteen years ago, I realized immediately that I would need some sort of acoustic assistance. I've always used music to help me to focus when writing academic papers and when drafting personal musings but I saw right away that novel-writing required a different level of attention to my sonic backdrop; fortunately, Fate had my back.

Several years earlier, in 1997, my Mom heard a song on the radio that she really enjoyed. The artist's album had just come out in September and so I decided to buy her the CD for her birthday, which was coming up in a few months. For my Brooklyn folks, I walked over to The WIZ on Flatbush and U and picked up the album: Loreena McKennitt's "The Book of Secrets." I was utterly unaware of the impact that this seemingly innocuous purchase would come to have on me as a writer.

First, the fact that Ms. McKennitt's song "The Mummer's Dance" was even ON the radio speaks to the incredible diversity in programming that stations like 95.5 PLJ and even Z100 displayed back in the '90s. Second, the instant I heard the track, it stirred something inside of me. It, along with the rest of the album, had a transportative effect--whisking me away to some far-off, mystical place.

Now, nearly twenty years later, it still holds that same power for me; the songs on that album are still integral to my creative process and have been included on the playlists for the writing of all four of the Kosmogonia novels. Loreena's voice is soothing and ethereal--her arrangements hauntingly beautiful. If you're looking for something different then I'd highly recommend scoping it out!


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