Musings of Rachel E. Carter


“Does music play a part in your writing process or help inspire you?”
By Rachel E. Carter, YA author of The Black Mage

I remember the first time I listened to music while reading. It was fourth grade and the living room was too loud to concentrate so I took out my CD player & headphones (yea, I just dated myself lmao) and finished the book with music in the background. For some people music & books compete for attention and they can’t focus on one while they are doing the other, but for me it’s the opposite: it helped me focus. Shortly after that first discovery I began to call certain songs “theme music” for various books, and listening to that “theme” song would take me right back to a favorite scene. The way people used to watch music videos? I had mini-music book/scene-trailers in my head.

Shortly after, I started to picture my own scenes in my head every time I listened to music. It became a kind of game to see what each song’s scene would be, and I began to wish I could read about the scenes I’d imagined -since they weren’t already in a book or movie and I liked reading, I decided I would try to write them. One of the first bands I remember clearly being inspired by was Evanescene. Evanescene is kind of a darker, dramatic rock band with a lot of sad/love-struck/morbid lyrics and a classically-trained singer. When I heard their songs I saw ravaged towns at night with demons wandering the streets and a boy and girl battling in shadows trying to survive, I saw a haunted house made of glass and a killer hunting a girl within, I saw a love-struck girl dying trying to get the boy to notice her and another trying to save the one she loved. I saw a million scenes and as I started to write it was really fun to listen to my scene’s songs because it helped amp up the writing atmosphere and make me more excited to write. This feeling never quit.

Now? I listen to anything and everything. My mom was a classical violinist so I listen to classics, movie soundtracks, pop, rock, country, folk, whatever I feel like to fit my writing mood. In my series The Black Mage I have created several folders in my iTunes for each book’s playlist. This helps me get a general theme for each book, and keep track of my favorite songs for each scene.

A month or two after each book is published I release my “Book Playlist” on my blog for curious readers, to see what I was writing to when I was writing “that kiss scene” or “that major battle,” etc. I feel very passionate about music and books because music –be it the beat, lyrics, “feel”- is what inspired I would say 70% of my favorite scenes. Sure, I write to silence or come up with awesome ideas in my head through dreams/watching movies/reading other books occasionally, but I am very music-oriented (even though I can’t sing or play an instrument) and am obsessed with making imaginary movie trailers or music-book scenes in my head since I know my books will probably never be made into actual movies.

Want some examples of what I listened to & pictured in my head for The Black Mage?

  • Anthem Lights “Circles” >> First Year (TBM #1): main character Ryiah feels like she is never good enough and has to work hard to keep up with the other more privileged students including the arrogant prince Darren she keeps running into, this is her theme as she slowly starts to get better.
  • Linkin Park “Hit The Floor” >> First Year (TBM #1): Ry has to fight another student in a giant training arena for a competition. This song really helped get into a fight mode.
  • Kelly Clarkson “You Love Me” (it’s a song about rejection, a guy who claims to love a girl but in truth just breaks her heart) >> Apprentice (TBM #2): Ryiah’s relationship with the main love interest, Prince Darren, who can’t seem to make up his mind about her. They have a very roller coaster, hot-and-then-cold relationship.
  • Marie Digby “Feel” >> Apprentice (TBM #2): when Darren asks Ryiah to dance and while dancing she & him both battle growing feelings for each other even though they can’t be together.
  • Papa Roach “No Matter What” >> Apprentice (TBM #2): when Ryiah and Darren are almost killed in battle and instead of running away, Darren turns back to help save Ryiah (who is too injured to escape) even though they are supposed to hate each other.
  • Florida Georgia Line “Headphones” >> Candidate (TBM #3): sweet Ryiah and Darren moments.
  • 30 Seconds to Mars “End of All Days” >> Candidate (TBM #3): Ryiah coping with losing someone she loves & turning down a darker path, losing hope in humanity and hating herself as her loyalties to all she loves is tested.

So am I alone or does anyone think music and books go hand-in-hand? What are your favorite songs to listen to while reading, or use while writing?

More About Rachel: 

Rachel E. Carter is a young adult author who hoards coffee and books. She has a weakness for villain and bad boy love interests. When not writing, she is usually reading, and when not reading she is usually asleep. To her, the real world is Hogwarts and everything else is a lie.

The Black Mage is Rachel’s first YA fantasy series, with many more to come. She loves to interact with fellow readers & aspiring writers, and here is a list of places you can find her:

Official Site ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ Tumblr ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

First Year (The Black Mage, #1)

First Year (The Black Mage #1)

99 cents on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and KOBO through 10/31/15!!!

Before the age of seventeen, the young men and women of Jerar are given a choice-follow tradition, or pursue a trial year in one of the realm’s three war schools to study as a soldier, knight or mage…

For 15-year-old Ryiah, the choice has always been easy. Become a warrior and leave the boring confines of her lowborn life behind. Set to enroll in the School of Knighthood on the eve of her next birthday, plans suddenly shift when her twin brother discovers powers. Hoping that hers will soon follow, she enrolls with Alex at the Academy instead -the realm’s most notorious war school for those with magic.

Yet when she arrives, Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Every “first-year” is given a trial year to prove their worth -and no amount of hard work and drive will guarantee them a spot. It seems like everyone is rooting for her to fail -and first and foremost among them Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived.

When an accidental encounter leads Ryiah and Darren to an unlikely friendship, she is convinced nothing good will come of it. But the lines become blurred when she begins to improve -and soon she is a key competitor for the faction of Combat… Still, nothing is ever as it seems -and when the world comes crashing down around her, Ry is forced to place faith in the one thing she can believe in -herself. Will it be enough?

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon (INT) ~ B&N ~ KOBO ~ iTunes ~ Book Depo

Apprentice  (The Black Mage, #2)

Apprentice (The Black Mage #2)

She survived a trial year at the Academy, but that was just the easy part…

Now sixteen-year-old Ryiah is an apprentice of Combat, her school’s most notorious faction of magic. When she finishes she will be a mage, but in order to do so she has to survive four years with a training master she hates and her old nemesis, Priscilla. To make matters worse the unwanted attraction Ry feels for her sometimes-friend-sometimes-rival Prince Darren is at an all time high –even though he is betrothed to the very girl she can’t stand.

Really, the only bright spot to Ryiah’s new life is the time she spends with her friends, including an older apprentice named Ian, who she finds herself thinking about quite often.

Just when things start to get comfortable they take a turn for the worse. An apprentice is killed in a rebel attack and several mages end up dead. Unwittingly, the apprentices find themselves in the midst of a budding unrest between Jerar and its northern neighbor, Caltoth. For Ryiah the impending conflict means many things, but as her apprenticeship draws to a close she finds her biggest problem at home.

Unfortunately for her, Darren’s not going anywhere.

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon (INT) ~ B&N ~ KOBO ~ iTunes

Candidate (The Black Mage, #3)

Candidate (The Black Mage #3)

Coming October 27th, 2015!

Welcome to the Candidacy. Where dreams go to die.

Twenty-year-old Ryiah is a black mage of Combat, but she is not the Black Mage. Yet. She’s had her eyes on the legendary robe for as long as she can remember, and in just one year she will have a chance at her country’s prodigious –and only- tourney for mages… Too bad she is going up against a certain non-heir. The one person she has yet to beat.

Meanwhile Ry has a year to prove herself in her new role as a war mage and the prince’s betrothed. Neither is quite what she expected and complications arise on both fronts. War is on the horizon, and with so many enemies the kingdom of Jerar’s fate is more than ever at risk.

The Candidacy finally arrives, but it’s only the beginning. Nothing can prepare her for what comes next.

Goodreads ~

A huge “Thank You” to Rachel for being so amazingly flexible and for writing this guest post! I love the GIFs! =)

As always, thank you to everyone who has/is participating in this feature! You are making large strides in helping new writers become the best that they can be. We so appreciate all of your effort to support our community and the voices of the next generation!

6 thoughts on “Musings of Rachel E. Carter

  1. Ahhh yay! Some of my favorite authors get to do this and I love it! I can definitely see some musical inspiration in your books Rachel. As I was looking over some of the ones you used for First Year it just clicked. Your book just has that tone where I definitely do think of what music would be playing if it were a movie. I am hit or miss when it comes to list in to music while reading. It has to be turned down pretty quiet and it can’t be something I just want to jam out to. Typically I stick with instrumental. Love your post! I am currently reading Apprentice right now and cannot wait for Candidate!

    Kelly, Lauren, Melissa…you guys should definitely hop on with this series! And 99 cents!? A deal Macklemore would be proud of.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Rachel! I also love music, though I don’t usually listen to music when I read. But I do when I write! It’s usually film soundtracks, things like LOTR, The Hobbit, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Prince Caspian… Usually not music with lyrics, though, because the lyrics distract me when I try to write. But when I’m away from writing, I’ll sometimes hear a song and say, “Hmmm, that reminds me of such-and-such-a-scene from the WIP.” It’s really interesting how each writer’s process can be so different!

    Also, thumbs up for being an Evanescence fan. I love their music, too!

    Liked by 1 person

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