Thanks to January’s castle-inspired writing retreat, I’ve crossed the halfway point in writing the next installment in my Castle series.
And I have to admit that my current work-in-progress Finding Home has involved more intricate plotting and detailed research than the previous books in the series… Which should mean an even better story for you!
But while readers have to wait longer than I’d anticipated for this next title to release, I couldn’t leave you without a glimpse into some of that research. Just to tide you over, right?
In my initial brainstorming, I thought it would be fun for the heroine to be singing a song when she meets the hero and for him to recall a few of the lyrics over the course of the book whenever he thought of her. After all, music from Austin Texas holds a lot of power when it comes to triggering memories.
But have you ever tried to find a song that would have been sung in 1803?
Especially one that might include something about lilies since that was her father’s nickname for her…
Well, after several frustrating hours and on the brink of abandoning the whole idea in favor of a different memorable quality, I came across the lyrics to an old Scottish song, “The Flowers of the Forest.”
The “current” lyrics were written by Jean Elliot in the 18th century and are actually a reworking of an even older song about the non-return of the large number of Scottish soldiers after the Battle of Flodden, when 10,000 were said to have perished along with their king and large numbers of the nobility. Today, the song is sung as a lament at military funerals.
Since Finding Home is set in the Cumbria region of England just south of the Scottish border, it made sense for my heroine to know the old song and to sing it when she was sad. And it was equally appropriate for the hero to recall the lyrics while fighting in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars.
Here’s the first stanza:
I’ve heard the lilting, at the yowe-milking,
Lasses a-lilting before dawn o’ day;
But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning;
“The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away”.
Should I translate for you? 🙂
Basically the girls used to sing early in the morning when milking the ewes, but now they are moaning on every road in town, because the flowers of the forest are all withered away.
While the song doesn’t contain anything specific about lilies, it does mention flowers. But surprisingly, the deeper meaning of the lyrics has now become an integral thread as the story develops. I call that a research win!
Just in case you want to hear the melody for such a song , here’s a vocal excerpt before the traditional bagpipe version:
Haunting lyrics and a powerful voice were exactly what I had in mind to include in Finding Home. I LOVE it when research turns up such amazing nuggets to turn a simple story into a memorable tale.
I’m definitely a musical soundtrack girl (especially since I write with Spotify playing specific playlists in the background to set my mood and wrote a whole contemporary series full of music!) so it’s been fun to weave music into the tapestry of this particular historical story.
What about you? Is there a song that brings back childhood memories? Or a song that takes you back to a pivotal moment every time you hear it? Have the lyrics to a song ever lingered with you long after the melody faded…or do you recall the music but not the lyrics?