Friday, May 25, 2012

Music for the Muse, Nerine Dorman talks Music


Nerine Dorman's writing is wildly innovative, her most recent release INKARNA proves that. 
Her music taste is just as imaginative! Help me in welcoming one of my favorite writers to the blog~

If I hadn’t gone into publishing I would have been a musician. I’ve played a number of musical instruments from a very young age, and studied classical music as a subject until I matriculated, majoring in guitar with piano as a second instrument. I played bass guitar in a selection of grunge, Goth and black metal bands, and sometimes gigged solo with my classical guitar. But, life has (sensibly) gotten in the way of me performing, though I have never quite quit fooling around on my bass or guitar when the muse bites.
When I write, music goes hand in hand with the process; the soundtrack I choose while creating a novel is carefully selected to match the story. And, of course I have my favourites, which shift according to my place in time. Most of my novels are fairly epic to some degree, but I’ll give you a short musical tour to give you an idea of what I ended up pairing.

I wrote my two Khepera novels to a steady diet of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Dead Can Dance and Bauhaus, sometimes interspersed by the film soundtracks by Hans Zimmer (mainly Pirates of the Caribbean and Gladiator). So, we have a contrast between 1980s Goth and somewhat dramatic and often exotic soundscapes. Dead Can Dance acts as an eclectic bridge between the two. Jamie, the main character, listens to those bands, a lot. In book one he still dresses the part, complete with eyeliner and an ebony mane teased into kingdom come. I wanted to capture that rebellious essence I felt during the late 1990s when I was still part of Cape Town’s Goth scene. We looked back to that era, gave little thought to the future, and went out of our merry way to be provocative in a culture where we, as European Africans, were adrift without identity. And, of course, who can say no to Peter Murphy’s rubber voice or Siouxsie’s sultry siren call?

 Here’s Progeny from the Gladiator soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer:

In 2010 one of my musical heroes passed away tragically. Peter Steele had been an inspiration to me – the one who made playing bass not only cool but damn sexy. And that voice… Deep, baritone reduced to an almost subsonic growl… This coincided with an extended depression for two years. Not so much mourning for the man, but a sense of a profound sadness for lost potential, and at that time I looked inward, and didn’t like what I saw. His death made me remember the dreams I’d had when I was in my early twenties, and made me re-evaluate my direction in life. Consequently I listened to a lot of Type O Negative during this time, and wrote three stories that were heavily themed with music: Hell’s Music, What Sweet Music They Make and Inkarna. If I have to drag one song out that said the most of this time, it would be Suspended in Dusk. It evokes a darkly romantic and very tragic sense, which supported me during my meltdown late 2011. I realised something vital: I’m not ready to die.

 Suspended in Dusk by Type O Negative:

But I have started flirting with other bands. I’ve recently reawakened my love for Fields of the Nephilim. Frontman Carl McCoy has what I can best describe as a whiskey-raw voice and when I’m looking for a desolate feel to my writing, I listen to my collection of Fields of the Nephilim. I’ve a novella I completed during this time which I’ll need to rework at some point, but there’s dust, open spaces and an abandoned landscape. Civilisation as we know it has come to an end and man is at the mercy of the elements. At least that’s what I feel when I listen to McCoy. If you want to write a post-apocalyptic Western, listen to this band. Mourning Sun is one of my many favourites. See:

I must make special mention of Azam Ali. She’s a very prolific Iranian-born musician who stands with her feet rooted firmly in the musical traditions of both West and East, incorporating Middle Eastern sounds in a contemporary package. Oh my, and she’s lush. Now that I’ve finally embarked on writing secondary world fantasy, I listen to her a lot, as she invokes an undercurrent of exoticism that helps me visualise my settings. Eerie, soulful and enigmatic – she helps me seek the muse of mystery. Her musical endeavours are also marketed in groups such as Niyaz and VAS, and I’d say that she compares very favourably to the likes of Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance.
 Go look up her Endless Reverie,

Before I conclude, however, I’m going to toss one
 of my all-time favourites – none other than JS Bach. He’s my special treat, and when I need to totally go into a writing trance, I listen to The Art of Fugue. There are some stunning recordings arranged either for the pipe organ or strings. Both types are sublime. If you want to hear a musical composer who speaks with the voice of the divine, Bach was one such. No other has been able to follow up with the complexity and sheer perfection of his preludes and fugues. He was a master of his art, and for me, as an author, to plug into the beauty of his creations inspires me to craft a tapestry of brilliance with my words.

Listen to Contrapunctus 1:

Nerine Dorman is a somewhat grumpy editor, author and musician who resides in a Treehaus in Cape Town, South Africa, where she cares for her husband, who is an award-winning indie filmmaker and visual artist. Nerine is cultivating a steadily encroaching forest, likes Earl Grey tea and can be bribed with cupcakes. Sometimes she hand-rears pigeons, but only bites…a little.

Follow me on Twitter @nerinedorman
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Nerine Dorman 

My novel, Inkarna, is available from Amazon. Go grab it now while it’s on special.


  1. Great post. Love seeing how everyone applies music to their work.

  2. Thanks for having me over, Synde! This was actually a surprisingly difficult blog to write because I had to pick favourites.

  3. I had never heard of Fields of the Nephilim before, but I love the selection you shared--very atmospheric!