#writingmusic for your #adventure in #storytelling! Plus an #ARC update for my #YA #Fantasy.

Happy weekend, Friends! It’s been a bugger of an August so far. We’re doing the best we can with the time we have–like a couple of trips to the beach while helping my mom clean out her house to sell it–but it’s pretty clear my three B’s are in desperate need of a break from one another. With many lockdown measures still in place, they’re acting like grumpy Pevensies stuck together on a rainy day.

If only a game of hide and seek would reveal a mysterious portal elsewhere, you know? Whether that portal be an old wardrobe, a forgotten door, or a painted forest, we are all looking for those gateways to adventure. Earlier this summer I was finding my own escape through the banjo, violin, and other instruments of the Appalachian Mountains, following the sounds of Edie Brickell and Steve Martin in their songs of love lost and found again.

But while their music calmed my heart, it didn’t spark my writing, a must when I was finishing a couple short stories and finalizing a novel for its ARC release. I needed another portal, one of magic, of danger…

…and a little hope.

The soundtrack for Back to the Future has been on constantly in our house since Bo showed the time travel scenes to the kids. Biff now runs around yelling, “Doc, the flux capacitor isn’t working!” Bash rides his bike with the cry, “we gotta go back to the future!” (Blondie politely tolerates it all.) And really, what isn’t there to love in this Alan Silvestri score? The little excerpt you’re (hopefully) listening to right now from the second film starts with one of my favorite cues: the violin, piano, and chimes trilling downward like falling magic. There’s mystery in the minor, and just a touch of danger in the french horns as Future Doc must take do what he can to prevent Past Doc from seeing him.

The main theme for Back to the Future is one of THE great themes for adventure: the swelling cymbals and bombastic brass sweep you away into the impossible journey through time–not to the major landmarks of history like some Wild Stallions, nor to the future of other galaxies like certain Doctors. No no, just into the past of one boy’s family, where he is able to inspire his father and mother to be the strong, loving people he needs in his present. Like John Williams, Silvestri loves his brass, but the heroic, staccato brass can only carry us so far without the legato of running strings echoing accelerating us to 88 miles per hour so we, too, can vanish with a trail of fire behind us.

Oh, the 1980s did have a marvelous run of music, didn’t they? Here’s one I just had to share from another favorite composer, James Horner. When you think of Horner, you usually think of Star Trek, Aliens, or Titanic. Ah, but he’s done so many others, including this little guilty pleasure of mine…

Bo often pokes fun about Horner. “It all sounds like Wrath of Kahn and you know it.” NO, I say, even though…yeah, there are bits that will always make me think of Star Trek II (which is one of the greatest scores ever and yes, I will need to do a post dedicated entirely to that score sometime.). But as another fan commented on YouTube, the common threads in Horner’s music feels like it binds all these different universes together, making this life just one more epic adventure tied to the next. I love that concept, and come on–who wouldn’t want the stampede of trumpets, the melodic violins heralding their arrival? The galloping drums transport us across the vast alien landscape to rescue our kidnapped love doing their best to hide from a villain who sees all, knows all.

But more than anything, it’s the trumpets at the two-minute mark that just melt me. Oh, what a hero’s theme. The utter defiance in the face of omnipotent evil. No matter what mischief is worked, the hero comes through in those trumpets, riding on, never stopping until he rescues the one who was taken from him.

Of course there has been good music after the 1980s. Take The Pirates of the Caribbean, where the first film has a wonderfully lush score for its swashbucklers. Hans Zimmer is connected to this series, but the first film was composed by Klaus Badelt, who has worked with Zimmer on other scores like The Prince of Egypt and Gladiator. Badelt’s theme starts fast and never lets up for a heartbeat. Here the orchestra moves as one, crashing up against us as the ocean waves beat a ship’s hull, and the cannon smoke blinds men in their climb up and down ropes to protect the sails and seek out the forbidden land for treasure.

Or you may abandon the ships for an adventure on the land, where the desert is your sea, and your only hope is to drive on, drive fast, and never, ever, let them catch you.

Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL) has become a go-to creator of action and adventure scores over the last twenty years. Whether you’re web-slinging with Spider-Man, defending a Dark Tower, or driving a mobile city to devour another, Holkenborg knows how to balance instruments and synth to create a force of unnatural power. You must move forward, you must heed the drums, you must flee the dissonance. You must summon all courage as the bass carries you, and when the strings break free from the percussion, you must fly or perish.

There is also adventure to be found in the music without a film. When I interviewed author Michael Scott oh so long ago, he recommended listening to trailer music on YouTube for writing inspiration. If it weren’t for him I would have never stumbled across the track that inspired my western fantasy novella Night’s Tooth.

Unlike the western scores I shared at Night’s Tooth release, this music has no direct correlation to the western genre. It’s just drums, hands, guitars, and a whole lot of guts synthed together. When I first heard this, I imagined gunslingers running among bullet-torn walls while a hunter poises himself for transformation, snarling as he becomes a creature of night and fire and vengeance.

Jean Lee’s western, Night’s Tooth, takes readers back to the world of the River Vine, but in a different era- the Old West. Elements of a western, of real history, and of terrifying fantasy combined to make this a real page turner.

Amazon Reader Review

As Night’s Tooth approaches its birthday, I’m debating making the novella available in print as well as an e-book. I could maybe add some extras to the novella to make it worthwhile…a few of my other Princeborn short stories, perhaps? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

I’m also wrapping up preparations to share the ARC of my second novel, Fallen Princeborn: Chosen at the end of August. If you’ve not read the first novel but are interested in doing so, I’d be happy to connect you with it for a review!

I’ve been around a while and read my fair share of Fantasies, but it’s rare to find an artist who so capably commands her medium as does Jean Lee.

Her evil characters transcend malevolence, while her good characters are flawed enough to be their worthy opponents. I’ve never witnessed such a clash of forces and such mayhem as battled in the climax. I was literally exhausted when I finished it.

It’s good to know there are many books remaining in Jean Lee’s arsenal. We’ll be enjoying her brilliance for years to come.

Amazon Reader Review

Booksprout is a handy hub for catching ARCS from favorite indie authors, so if you’re keen for early access to Chosen, please visit my Booksprout page. If for whatever reason it’s not working and you’d like to have an ARC for a book review, just let me know!

Here is a quick taste of Fallen Princeborn: Chosen…

Ashes touch the air.

And a cackle.

A shriek, far and away.

Two entrances out of the Pits, both unlocked. One out in the woods.

And one inside Rose House.

“Liam!” Charlotte slams the patio door, locks it—idiot, it’s fucking glass—and bolts for the library.

Liam has yet to move, eyes closed, breath still slow.

“Liam you have to wake up!” Charlotte shakes him, cups his cheeks, brings her face close–dammit, this isn’t time for that. So she slaps his cheek instead. “Liam!” She yells in his ear.

Pounding, pounding below her feet.

They are coming.

Writers, we must keep fighting for our right to adventure. We must fly upon the backs of eagles, take to the line among those defending our personal Narnias, and conquer the darkness that would douse our creative fires. Let us share the music that carries us to victory and brings life when all would seem lost.

For the adventure. For the story. And for the music that inspires them both.


I’ll be sharing an extra post to announce when Fallen Princeborn: Chosen ARCS are readily available. I also have an interview lined up with a wonderful indie author as well as a return to the Queen of the Fantastic.

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

37 thoughts on “#writingmusic for your #adventure in #storytelling! Plus an #ARC update for my #YA #Fantasy.

  1. Gateways to adventure. You’re right, we need them badly, because so much of what we normally do isn’t very do-able now. Something my wife and I have been doing is going to restaurants and eating outdoors there (the tables are pretty far apart from each other). These are small adventures, but they feel good.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Urg! You have my profound sympathy! I know that during the week when the grandchildren were cooped up due to the heat their their mum being ill, they were getting a tad antsy with each other. But we’ve been able to get out and about a lot of the time… I can’t imagine how they’d be feeling if they couldn’t! So thinking of you with HUGE respect that you are able to write. At all…

    As for the music – thank you for the gifts:)) My personal favourites – the Pirates of the Carribean theme, Cut the Cord and The Battle from Narnia.

    Yes – I think you should consider making Night’s Tooth a paperback – but adding a couple more stories would be a good move. And I’m really excited about the upcoming new book:)).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I know there are some families that the siblings can handle all that time together, but ours ain’t it. 🙂 I’m personally very thankful for well-placed screen time, a mix of favorite shows and educational games so I don’t feel too guilty for being in front of my own screen. 🙂

      The music was super hard to choose! I was going to focus on more westerns for Night’s Tooth, and then I was going to focus on Narnia for escape, but then with working on the over-arcing series plan for Princeborn I kept listening to battle scores aaaaand here we go!

      I’m glad you dig the idea. I know I can’t just whip that together in the next few days, but it’d be neato if I could work this out before CHOSEN goes live. That’s the hope, anyway!

      And I hope you do like CHOSEN. There’s sooo much going on in there–hopefully I didn’t over-stuff it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Each family has its own dynamic – and how siblings rub along, one way or the other, seems to be in the lap of the Gods, as far as I can see…

        Yes… that’s the thing with books, especially when we’re doing it all ourselves. Nothing can happen all that fast! But I look forward to reading the final result – I know you well enough to trust that it will be good:).

        I’m looking forward to reading CHOSEN, too. As for the music – it sums up the mood really well – of course it does, as you’ve used it to access the tone and emotional tenor of your writing:)).

        I hope the coming week isn’t too gruelling – my heart goes out to families caught up in this dynamic where they are thrown back on their own resources, with little or no outside stimulation. It isn’t how it’s supposed to be on so many levels.

        Take care, my friend and hang in there:))x

        Liked by 1 person

      • Your words are like a big, big hug that I needed after a long, long day. Thank you, a thousand times thank you, for all your support and friendship! I know we can make it through this together. 🙂 xxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

    • Oh how wonderful! I wish I could think of a high school music performance that was great, but I can only think of the one where we totally bombed in front of judges. 😦 BUT, there was a piano solo I still remember: I was 12 and played the Jurassic Park suite in the gym. I POUNDED those base octaves in the finale. ‘Twas most righteously awesome. 🙂


  3. We grab what we can when we can. Thankful for those times together and free. I must admit I love the Beautiful Minds soundtrack. I would love an option on the Braveheart dvd to watch the film and listen to the music but mute the awful dialogue. You are such a brilliant writer, the prospect of new work is wonderful news. Take care my friend. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • aw, shucks. Thanks, Friend. And Beautiful Minds IS a beautiful soundtrack–I have that one, too! I used to have Braveheart, but I can’t recall its themes this morning…anyway, hope you’re as well as you can be with Hawklad. Take care of each other, and find reasons to smile xxxxxxxxxxx


  4. Love these musical interludes, Jean. It’s a rainy day in Central PA and I’m hunkered down, trying to finish the first draft of my novel, now four years in the making, I realize with some chagrin, I mean, what took me so long?! Anyway, I’m teeing up Back to the Future and while I crest this wave. Thanks for the (many many many) tip(s) and write on!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such an interesting post, Jean. I do think you’re onto something with the film-scores. I love browsing around for them on you-tube. Of your selection, I think I prefer Pirates of the Caribean. It has such energy.

    I did love Night’s Tooth, and I feel sure all it needs is a little more prominence – but of course, that’s the tricky part. How busy you are, getting Fallen Princeborn: Chosen, written alongside all of your other commitments this year. I’m looking forward to catching up with the next part of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks, Cath! Yes, there’s a magic to that score that reminds me a lot of Gladiator’s soundtrack. We could all use that high-spirited spirit to sweep us out to sea for a break from this world!

      And I do hope you like Chosen. It’s quite a bit darker, but I love introducing new characters wild and wicked…and thank you about Night’s Tooth! Yes, it’d be nice to get it out there more, but that’s the thing with schooling the kids and teaching students–marketing time is not my forte. We just do what we can when we can, right? xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

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