As many of you know, I always make a playlist for the book I’m writing. It’s a way of inspiring me to write certain scenes, to get me in the mode, and to connect more deeply with each character and their respective journeys. As a musician, I suppose it was inevitable that music would play an integral role in my writing. So today, I wanted to share with you the playlist I listened to ad nauseam during the writing of The Stag at Hand. Each song has particular meaning for moments in the book, or characters themselves. But I thought I’d highlight a few below.

Be forewarned: the descriptions of each song include minor spoilers for the book. So if you haven’t finished it yet, you might not want to read on.

Saturn by Sleeping at Last

I know, I know. This has been on my playlists before. But GOOD GOSH ALMIGHTY this song just moves me. In profound ways. For me, this song is particularly fitting for the scene in the starlit pool. Ezra and Miri find themselves in between worlds, full of stars and galaxies and comets and nebulae. And the music, the emotion, even the lyrics to this song are particularly fitting for this moment, including where the characters are in their arc.

Pro Tip: I painted a small canvas inspired by this song that is particularly fitting for that scene in the book, too. You can pick it up in my shop here.

Turandot: Nessun Dorma by Pavarotti

If you’ve read the book, you know that the theatre plays a central role in the village of Shalem. Ezra himself keeps it alive in the tiny town as their patron. But he and Miri find a mutual love for the arts as a common ground and starting point for their bond. So of course, I had to listen to some opera music while writing the book. This particular piece, performed by the incomparable Pavarotti, is iconic and timeless. Do yourself a favor and listen!

When I Fall In Love by Michael Bublé

There are a billion versions of this song out there, but Michael’s is hands down the best. It speaks for itself, I think. It’s a love song, after all. But I put this one on repeat while writing the chapter where Ezra and Miri spend the day together. It’s the first time Miri allows herself to consider what life would be like with this man who has changed everything in her world. And it’s the first time she’s admitting to herself that she’s falling in love.

I’m Going to Drive Until it Burns My Bones by Ursine Vulpine

This song. Where do I begin? First of all, I’m obsessed with Ursine Vulpine. His music is beyond and every time I listen I have one of those I-wish-I-had-composed-this envious fits. He’s remarkable. Remarkable. But this movement was put on repeat whenever Miri had to face her demons. I listened to it a lot, but in particular, it is fitting for the moment the ambassador has her in his clutches and she is faced with the sobering reality (at least to her): that she will never be free.

Into Faith I Go by Pat Barrett

When I first discovered this song, I too was in a similar mental place as Miri. No, I wasn’t trying to get out of an abusive relationship, but I was trying to get out of a place that had me feeling trapped, hopeless, and with nowhere to go. I think I wept aloud at least the first five times I listened to this song. It became my anthem in a season where I needed to find my own courage. And thus it became Miri’s anthem, too. To find hope when you’re lost. To keep the faith when you don’t know who you are anymore. And to put one foot in front of the other, every day, no matter what.

Someday Soon by Wilder Woods

Aside from my slight (read: complete) obsession with Bear Rinehart’s voice, this song just moves me. For me, this is Ezra’s song. He’s learning how to love through doubt; to be strong in another’s weakness; to give and give and give without knowing if it will ever pay off. But through all the darkness, he never loses hope. He’s a candle in the night. I want to be more like him, honestly. He’s always looking ahead and always holding tightly to the coming dawn.

There are a LOT more songs on this playlist, but this will at least give you a sample. For the full playlist, you can find it on both Apple Music and Spotify below. Happy listening!

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