I am not a writer who can have music on when I’m writing. The words in the background do not gel with the words in my head. It’s a no go zone. However music was a key foundation to some of the key scenes in the novel. And music gave me inspiration – while I was driving, walking the hills, doing sit-ups on my swiss ball or just pottering round the house trying to figure out some key plot points.

Here are some links to some of the music – modern, classical and in between – that coloured Seldom Come By. Maybe one day it too will become a cinematic marvel like the upcoming Outlander TV Series or The Bronze Horseman movie. I think Jane Campion of The Piano would do it  justice.

Warning: spoiler alert! Seriously BIG spoilers! Come back after you’ve read the book. 🙂

You do Something to me

You do something to me – Bryan Ferry.

In the iceberg cave when Samuel says to Rebecca, ‘You’re something.’ That something was completely tied up Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey and this song. In the mystifying and hypnotising. When I started writing Seldom Come By I was living in New Zealand. The iceberg scene was the first piece I wrote as that was the emotional crescendo I was driving towards in that first section.

I will remember you

I will remember you – Sarah Mclachlan

When Rebecca drew their iceberg as a memento for Samuel and signed her beautiful memories in the waves, I wanted to play this mesmerising ballad for her.

Canon in D Major

Canon in D Major – Pachelbel.

To me this classical piece conveys that sense of saying goodbye. There’s a sadness to it, a sense that life is slipping through your fingers, you can’t hold it, you can’t stop time, yet hopefully all is not lost, renewal is possible. I think of Lottie most when I hear this, mourning her sons leaving — one  up the line and one to the front.


 Gymnopédie – Satie.

I have loved this music ever since I first heard it as a teenager. Its sultry and melancholic at the same time and captures the urbane side of Matthew. And it’s French!

Old rugged cross

 Old rugged cross.

This was my maternal Grandfather’s favourite hymn. And as Johnny Cash said: the biggest selling sheet music in the last 100 years. In honour of all those who died in WWI.

Chasing cars

 Chasing cars – Snow Patrol.

This is Matthew’s song during his war years. “Show me a garden that’s bursting into life,” is his letter to his mother, longing for a world full of colour and life rather than one filled with grey, beige and death. “Would you lie with me and just forget the world?”  is his plea to Lenore to help him take away the war.

There’s a long long trail

There’s a long long trail.

Written and published in 1914 and a very popular WWI song. The chorus was Rebecca’s life during the Epistle years.

When you’re gone

 When you’re gone – Avril Lavigne.

This song captures how Rebecca felt after Samuel left her after their unforgettable summer of 1917. Avril’s music clip also parlays nicely with the military theme, and she’s a Canadian to boot.

Clair de lune

Clair de Lune – Debussy.

The soundtrack for Samuel’s life after he returned from Newfoundland, secretly engaged. There was a quiet excitement, combined with a palpable sense of yearning and a simple need for time to pass.

Keep holding on

 Keep Holding On – Avril Lavigne.

Rebecca’s anthem to herself after Samuel left to go north into the Canadian wilderness; her lament and prayer for him.

Better Man

 Better Man – Robbie Williams.

This is Samuel, when he is up north in the Canadian wilderness, trying to face himself, come to terms with his life, his pain, his shame, his sense of unworthiness and make the decision to start his life over again.

Don’t give up

 Don’t give up – Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush.

This is Samuel’s plea to Rebecca when she is upset and despondent about not being able to conceive after several years of married life. Though I see this song with the gender swapped. Rebecca is the despairing Peter. Samuel the hopeful Kate: “You still have us.”

My funny valentine

 My Funny Valentine – Over the Rhine.

This song is Samuel and Rebecca’s twilight song. At the very end when Rebecca says: ‘. ‘I think I love Newfoundland!’ her voice catching, unable to hide the surprise or emotion of her realisation. And Samuel says, ‘Have you just figured that out?’ He has long known. The line,“You make me smile with my heart,” is a homage to their unwavering love. “Don’t change one hair for me.” — they both want to capture that moment forever, in their boat next to that glorious iceberg like the one that brought them together twenty-five years earlier. This song and this version is one of my all time favourites.

I would love to hear what music and songs resonated with you while reading Seldom Come By. And for fun, your thoughts for a movie, actors, directors etc.