In the fantasies I love best, magic is ultimately a mystery—and I believe the same is true of art. We can talk about the experiences that informed the work, what we were thinking or the emotional struggles we were dealing with at the time, but in my view these explanations tend to be partial at best. I think we may as well try to explain magic as trace where many of our ideas, sentences, or characters come from.
With that said, experiences certainly figure into the shaping of an artist’s work. Another element, just as important as our experiences, is the art of other people. Part of the reason I wrote about classic books from childhood is because these are part of what went into making me the writer I am today, however invisible and seamless the effects might be.
And now I’ve had a chance to be on the other side of that equation. The composer Robert Holmes, possibly best known for the music of Sierra On-Line’s bestselling Gabriel Knight series and the folk band The Scarlet Furies, has composed a piece of music inspired by my debut novel, Last Song Before Night.
I grew up with the Gabriel Knight games, and Robert’s music—rich, evocative, haunting—has been a source of inspiration. That my book about musicians could inspire him in turn is a great honor.
Of this piece, Robert says, “Last Song Before Night was the perfect musical challenge. The goal was to reflect the human emotions and drama the story portrays, within a world that seems all too real and possible. I also hoped to channel a bit of my deep love for the music of the band YES, in tribute to the recent loss of the amazing Chris Squire.”
When I listen to this piece, I imagine a particular sequence of events toward the end of the book—when the days have turned cold, and the characters are reaching the limits of their capacities to fight anymore. I also think of the Academy of poets, an ancient castle on its island of rock, keeping its secrets.
Ilana C. Myer has written about books for the Globe and Mail, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Huffington Post, and Salon. Her first novel, Last Song Before Night, an epic fantasy about poets and dark enchantments, is forthcoming from Tor in September 2015.