Swim Until You Can’t See Land
a playlist for Brightly
Some writers need total silence in order to work, but I always listen to music while I write. Here is a collection of the music I listened to most while writing Brightly. I’ve posted individual songs here and there on my Facebook page, but here is the playlist in its entirety.
I’ve posted the playlist on 8tracks—with bonus pretentious album art! Unfortunately, because you can include no more than two songs by the same artist on any given mix, I had to split it into two parts.
The playlist is arranged in chronological order, following the progression of the story, so if you’ve read Brightly, I think you’ll be able to pick out which songs correspond to certain characters or sequences.
You’ll notice a lot of water imagery throughout this playlist. Those songs helped get me in the mindset to write about the sea and Siren Island. In particular, there is a bunch of watery music by Florence + the Machine.
The song “What the Water Gave Me” was a huge inspiration for Brightly. It’s such a powerful, crashing piece of music that it’s hard to listen to it without your brain conjuring up all kinds of fantastic imagery. (Actually, that happens to me pretty much every time I put on my headphones and listen to Florence: I’m inundated with mental music videos.)
Specifically—and this may be a small spoiler if you haven’t finished Brightly—quite a long time ago, while listening to “What the Water Gave Me,” I suddenly had a very clear mental image of Henry and a sea serpent in the rain. That one image evolved into the Deception Pass sequence, and became vital to the story.
I love this quote about “What the Water Gave Me” from an interview with Florence Welch:
“It’s a song for the water, because in music and art what I’m really interested in are the things that are overwhelming. The ocean seems to me to be nature’s great overwhelmer. When I was writing this song I was thinking a lot about all those people who’ve lost their lives in vain attempts to save their loved ones from drowning. It’s about water in all forms and all bodies.”
The overwhelming quality of the ocean is something that greatly interests me, as well, and it’s something I tried to get at in Brightly. Really, my fascination with water in general is one of the main reasons why Brightly is the book it is. When you get down to it, I just wanted to write about the sea. And mermaids. Always mermaids.