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Monday, August 22, 2022

Music I Write By.

 Music I write by – Lindsay Townsend

I love music. I think to music and write to music, and have done so since my earliest days. My first published novel, my romantic suspense, "Voices in the Dark" was set in the world of Italian opera and the hero and heroine were opera singers. Remember the Puccini Tosca set on location in Rome, with Placido Domingo? That was shown during my research for that book, and I still have the video. In another of my earlier novels, the villain had an obsession with the arresting music of the tortured (and all-round weird) Gesualdo, renaissance madrigal composer. 

In my medieval historical romance "Master Cook and the Maiden", my hero Swein gifts the heroine Alfwen with a wooden pipe, as he noticed her liking of the music of bird-song - thus showing his own care for her and marking a growing closeness between them. I sometimes listen to the real medieval music of Guillaume de Machaut, to my classically-nurtured ear full of exotic, Eastern-sounding harmonies. I also enjoy Thomas Tallis, a slightly later composer, especially his Mass for Four Voices.

To me certain composers have certain associations. Beethoven with his energy and sublime slow movements makes me think of that state of shimmering, contented joy of those in love. Schubert makes me think of Gothic romance, dark romance – the knock at the door at midnight….but who is outside? Brahms and Schumann are passion and energy. I listen to them and think of heroes with dark, secret, wounded pasts. While I was writing "Master Cook and the Maiden" I listened to Dvorak's Stabat Mater over and over, as its large themes and urgency seemed to match what I was creating.

Gerald Finzi means the essence of ‘English’ landscape to me, that slightly fey element, even more so than my other favourite, Vaughan Williams. I listened to Finzi while writing "Unicorn Summer", one of the novellas in the anthology "One Midsummer's Knight." Finzi inspired me!

I can happily tap along to music – a bit of a rush and many mistakes in the quick movements, but I love it. Music somehow opens my mind and imagination, my emotions. It ‘sits’ firmly on my most niggling critic – my inner editor – and allows me to make music in my own way – on the page.

What music do you enjoy to read to or to write to?

To finish here is an excerpt from another of my Prairie Rose Publications titles, "Sir Conrad and the Christmas Treasure," where, in a dream, the hero Conrad admits to the heroine that he loves music and singing.


Conrad dreamed he was floating above the long nave of York Minster, spotting the scaffolding beside the thick Norman pillars, watching the beams of light through the upper windows. Ahead was the great rood, the beam and screen marking the sacred spaces between the main church and the chancel, with its carved and painted figures of Christ on the cross, Mary the holy mother and Saint John the Baptist. Robed in blue and with her long golden hair loose to her hips, Maggie floated beside the statue of the blessed virgin, her arms wide in welcome.  

And why have I not understood before now, how very beautiful she is, more even than I first realised?

“See.” She nodded to the altar, adorned with bunches of mistletoe, their milky berries glistening in the candle-light. “The plant of peace and reconciliation.”

“Protection against lightning,” he replied, falling into their accustomed, easy rivalry.

“Mistletoe also guards against evil witches.”

“There are other kinds?”

She smiled like a brilliant summer. “My mother Florence was a wart-charmer in our village and a good hedge-witch. She would brush the cows with small branches of mistletoe to charm them, help to give them more calves in the next year.”

“My mother…” Even in the dream Conrad pummelled his mind, trying to think of a unique skill she had. It saddened him that his maternal parent, skilled in running a great house, had nothing that was simply hers.

“When did you begin to paint?” he asked.

She laughed. “Always! I would draw in the dirt with my finger if I had no brushes or ochre to hand.”

He nodded in understanding. “With me it was music. I would bellow out the old songs of the shepherds, until my voice broke.” And I was told by father that singing like a low-born troubadour brought shame to the family. 

“You sing well,” Maggie said.

“Thank you,” Conrad answered, recalling their duet with pleasure. After another moment he sighed. “Perhaps Mother had something. I forget.”

“I am certain she did.” Stepping close in the smoky air Maggie tucked a sprig of mistletoe into his tunic, her brief touch both comforting and promising more. “When she was a girl, Florence would gather sprays of mistletoe from apple orchards.”

“A good custom,” he replied, while the earthier part of him, present even in a dream, thought and a sign of kisses to come between us, a kiss for each berry. 

Content, he slumbered without stirring until daybreak.

Sir Conrad and the Christmas Treasure USA


What is the true treasure of Christmas?

Maggie’s younger brother, Michael, is kidnapped by outlaws, and it’s up to her to rescue him. Appealing to Sir Conrad, the grim steward of the northern English high lands, is the very last thing she wants to do. With the very real possibility that the outlaws know of Michael’s talent—the ability to open any lock, to reveal any treasure—Maggie races against time to find him before his usefulness to the outlaws is ended.

Sir Conrad desires Maggie from the minute he sees her—she makes him feel alive again—and that has not happened since the death of his wife. Though he hasn’t known Maggie before, a strange feeling of familiarity nags, and he agrees to aid the beautiful peasant girl in this quest of finding her brother.

Happy Summer!

Lindsay Townsend 


  1. Music is such a part of us. I used to write with Celtic music playing - I think I'll start that again. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. I agree, Tracy, and about the beautiful Celtic music. Thanks for commenting

  3. This is really cool. Do you name the music that inspired the book in author's notes? It would be amazing to read your book with the music you played when you wrote it in the background.

  4. Some beautiful choices here. Music isn't a background for me. I tend to really listen and attend to it, especially my favourite pieces. The acoustics in old churches are especially beautiful to me.