Writing and Music – The Inspration Connection and Giveaway

Today I have two awesome guest bloggers talking about the importance of music in fiction. Welcome Kathleen L. Maher and Carrie Fancett Pagels. Thanks for guest blogging today.

Writing and Music – the Inspiration Connection

by Kathleen L. Maher and Carrie Fancett Pagels

kathy at Cayuga Lake 7 25Kathleen L. Maher: While writing my novella recently, I wanted to immerse myself in the flavor of the time period. What better way than the universal language of music? The American Civil War certainly offered a wealth of different styles of music, particularly in a bustling port town like Manhattan where the ethnicity ranged from one block to the next. My hero in the story, William Lee, is based on my great, great grandfather who was a violin instructor. He taught children of Irish and German families, and scraped together a meager living for his wife and family with his music. In the novella I feature a concert hall owner whom William pursues for gigs. His music hall plays everything from Irish dancing music to black traditional “ham bone,” also called pattin’ de juba.

Fiddles enjoyed wild popularity at this time, as did the banjo, coronet, fife and drum. Camp music in the North ranged from patriotic airs like “Yankee Doodle,” “The Battle Cry of Freedom” and “While We Were Marching Through Georgia”, to more religious songs such as “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Slaves used music to communicate directions to Canada in lyrics such as “Follow the Drinking Gourd”, another name for the Big Dipper constellation which includes the North Star.

Spirituals would have been a common sound in the South as the words of hope and endurance rose from the slave quarters. Elegant soirees in the plantation house might have been graced with piano, cello, even harp music. Minstrels and shows on both sides whistled Dixie on penny tin flutes or sang romantic Stephen Foster songs. Southern patriotic songs included “The Bonnie Blue Flag” and more humorous tunes like “J’ine the Cavalry”. Homefront sentiment ran high with songs like “When the Battle’s Over, Mother”, and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”.

My personal favorite Civil War song is the southern ballad “Lorena”. Its haunting words come alive in its slow and mournful melody. But the one that sets the tone for my Irish folk best would have to be The Irish Brigade. Listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0Yr3BsEw6A

carrie head shot shrink (2)Carrie Fancett Pagels: As I write this post, I am listening to “I Will Wait For You” by Mumford and Sons. Yes, I realize it is secular music. I wouldn’t even have known about it (probably) had I not watched part of the Grammys with my husband and they played and that song was so incredible and it resonated with me for my heroine and my hero, and also my writing journey at the time.  You see I heard about the Cry of Freedom series by Murray Pura less than six weeks before my novella released!  If you are familiar with the song, you know that it has a high energy frenetic beat but with old timey folk music feel which corresponded to my heart rate working on this and my schedule plus being back in 1862-1863.  But back to my heroine, Angelina, 1/8 African-American, born in Charleston into slavery the result of several generations of Caucasian men, including Master Rose, having “relations” with the house slaves that Angelina descended from.  The abolitionist movement used this multi-generational sexual exploitation with resulting “white slaves” to stir sympathy in the North.

My hero, Matthew’s, mother is an Abolitionist daughter of a Copperhead banker from New York and she’s married to a Copperhead senator from Ohio. So many characters in my story are “waiting for” someone.  Now a free woman, Angelina was offered a position as a seamstress in Ohio with Matthew Scott’s theatrical company. But waiting for her to arrive was fruitless—she was in Virginia, obeying God’s direction that she wait and free her niece and nephew from slavery at Shirley Plantation.  Her sister died, leaving the children behind.  Angelina can’t leave Julian and Charity—she will wait for them.  And there is another person on the plantation waiting—Granny Scott, an elderly slave from the Scott plantation.  God has promised her she’d see slaves freed before she dies.  And God promised her something else.  She’s literally alive waiting for God to fulfill what He’s promised her—and of course, He delivers!  Then we have Matthew Scott, abducted by the Confederate army to serve, the kidnapping overlooked by the Union army because Matthew’s father is a Copperhead politician.  After injured in battle at Malvern Hill, Matthew ends up at Shirley Plantation. Matthew is waiting for Angelina despite her being what he believes is a Southern belle of whom his mother would certainly disapprove.  And he’s come to love Julian and Charity, too.

Listening to the music every day when I sat down to write put me instantly in the time and place and emotions where my characters were.

Here is a YouTube link for my inspirational song! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NPNcRuaGQI

Question: Do you write to music? Share!

Giveaway: Answer the question in Comments and enter a chance to win a new CD of Mumford and Son’s who are secular artists (it doesn’t contain at least one song with strong profanity—substitution available if preferred by winner.)

Bachelor Buttons (No Banner)Kathleen L. Maher won ACFW’s 2012 Genesis contest and is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary. She debuts with Murray Pura’s Civil War collection with her novella, Bachelor Buttons.  

Bachelor Buttons: Courted by two men—a young doctor who promises material security, and a poor violin instructor who has captured her heart—Rose Meehan must choose between a life of advantage-grabbing or a life of faith while Manhattan explodes in mob rule following Lincoln’s unpopular draft.

carrie's coverCarrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D. (www.carriefancettpagels.com) is the author of “Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance.” She contributed to “God’s Provision in Tough Times” Lighthouse of the Carolinas (July, 2013). Carrie’s short story “Snowed In” will be published in Guidepost Books A Cup of Christmas Cheer in October, 2013.

Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance.  Abducted against his will, Matthew Scott is conscripted into the Confederate army because of his Copperhead father’s political leanings. Injured at Malvern Hill, Matthew is taken by the Union army to Shirley Plantation in Virginia where he is tended by seamstress Angelina Rose, a freed slave. Given an opportunity to leave the South and start a new life for herself, Angelina remained for the sake of her sister’s orphaned twins who are still enslaved.


This entry was posted in Book and Movie Reviews, Guest Authors by Tamera Kraft. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tamera Kraft

Tamera Kraft has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She is also a writer and has curriculum published including Kid Konnection 5: Kids Entering the Presence of God published by Pathway Press. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

15 thoughts on “Writing and Music – The Inspration Connection and Giveaway

  1. I enjoyed reading about Kathy and Carrie’s experience with music and how it inspires their writing.On occasion I will search for music that relates to a story I’m working on, especially if there is music in the story itself. But while I write, I like quiet as sounds, even pleasant ones, distract me.

  2. Whatever I wrote – even boring college business papers – I do it to music. Music unlocks that creative part of my brain that gets the writing flowing.

  3. I am really anxious to have the books in print. I would love to win yours Kathy since it is now but in PRINT. Guess most of my writing has been writing letters (most in days gone by, when others would answer me. ) I still love to sit down and write letters. I usually had music playing, but no certain one. Mostly Christian or classic country tho. Please put me in the drawing.. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  4. Hey, Tamera … LOVE this blog and LOVE these ladies (and you!)!!
    Writing and music are truly a powerful mix, unleashing emotions to a whole new level. When I wrote A Passion Most Pure, the song that surrounded that book was Hillsong’s “Glory to the King,” especially the lyrics, “You’re the Father to the fatherless, the answer to my dreams,” which surrounded Faith O’Connor (and me) in the writing of that book, especially during the critical loss scenes. To this day, I can listen to that song and the entire O’Connor saga unfolds for me in my mind. What a very special connection music brings to our writing!


    • Thanks for stopping by, Julie. I agree that music is powerful especially when coupled with writing. Now every time I think of Passion Most Pure, I’ll hear “Glory to the King”. Carrie and Kathleen are great ladies and have really set the bar high for Civil War stories. I’ll be joining them with my novella on November 1st called “Soldier’s Heart”.

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