At some point within the next few weeks, my free novella The Lodestar of Ys will be released as part of the Goodreads M/M Romance group’s Love Has No Boundaries event. In the run-up, there’s a busy little discussion thread , complete with extracts, going over here, and today I’m trying something new. Firstly, have the official blurb, which I don’t think I’ve shared yet, and then, under the cut, a playlist of some of music I listened to as I wrote, with quotations from the story to go with each track.
The Lodestar of Ys
Prince Sjurd of Axholme is convinced that Celyn of Ys is the most irritating man alive. It’s a good thing that Celyn is engaged to Sjurd’s brother, not him, because Sjurd loathes the brat, and it’s quite mutual. When an elopement and the threat of invasion force the two princes together, however, they have no choice but to marry and fake true love to keep their countries safe. Can warrior Sjurd and diplomat Celyn find any common ground?
1. Come Fly With Me Anna Ternheim
The first time Celyn met the oaf was aboard the flying ship Llinos, on the eve of their betrothal feast.
At the start of the story, poor Sjurd really isn’t fond of flying. Of course, he’s also buckling under the weight of his responsibilities, and can’t see the joy in something as frivolous as just flying away.
2. En Route The Morriston Orpheus Choir with the band of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
In the wake of their destruction, the legions marched, ready to garrison every town and offer the terrorized people the “mercy” of Imperial law and order.
The Empire is coming, and the kingdoms of Challoner, Axholme and Ys are the last free lands on the continent. So the armies of Axholme march to defend their border… (If you’re listening to the Grooveshark version, you’ve got Natalie MacMaster’s Flora MacDonald instead, which is an extra Mathilde song. The real Flora MacDonald is famous for smuggling Bonnie Prince Charlie off the island of Benbecula, and I thought both the music and its subject were fitting for Mathilde’s steady courage).
3. Breton Medley Azam Ali
They watched as Mathilde rode swiftly away along the causeway that crossed the fens, growing smaller and smaller by the second.
Another instrumental piece, waiting for the Empire to make their move.
4. From my Own True Love (Lost at Sea) The Decemberists
Celyn looked through it, but he couldn’t pick out much more, just a shadow lumbering out of the dawn. He was a child of Ys, though, and his instincts knew what he was seeing. “She’s damaged. I’ve seen wrecks move like that as they drift back to land.”
Not so much lost at sea, perhaps, but the mood is the same.
5. Grey (Llwyd) Karl Jenkins / West Kazakhstan Philharmonic
There was something too sad in his face for Celyn, though, as if he were made of cracked glass.
I can never quite decide if this is a sad song or a hopeful one, and I feel the same way about this character and his plot thread. All the lasting things are grey.
6. Who By Fire Leonard Cohen
Where in the world did he belong? Would he ever have a place, or a man, who would be a true home for him?
Just because these boys are both looking for the same thing, and annoy each other too much to know it.
7. You Can’t Hurry Love The Supremes
“You’re the only person I’ve ever met who dislikes me more on acquaintance,” Celyn remarked, waving extra hard at the next clump of people, not least because the farmer was a very handsome lad.
“You surprise me,” Sjurd muttered.
Yeah, this one’s just in here to annoy Sjurd. I can feel him glowering at me from here 😉 It definitely takes these two a while to warm up to each other.
8. Green Island Serenade Vienna Teng
Celyn tried to imagine how it would feel to see the Falls of Rhaeadr and dawn over the inner isles for the first time.
Welcome to Ys.
9. Corryvreckan Calling The McCalmans
Out here in the further isles, the rest of the world seemed very far away. By the time they reached Luaith, it felt like they would be traveling forever, moving from island to island until the world faded into a final sunset.
This was the key song for this story. I kept coming back to it. It’s a song about islands and following your dreams, and it was the one that made me realize that these two needed to go to the islands before they could breathe freely enough to fall in love. I spent a few unforgettable weeks backpacking around the Hebrides a few summers ago, and they’re in this story. Listening to this, I can see them too. If you don’t listen to anything else, listen to this one (on YouTube).
10. Sunlight in a Jar The Lucksmiths
“Brat,” Sjurd retorted fondly and slipped his hands under Celyn’s shirt, pushing it up as he stroked Celyn’s taut belly. “Take this off.”
“I would,” Celyn said and wriggled against him. “You’re in the way.”
Just because it’s my favorite awkward lovers song. Oh, boys.
11. Shelter From the Storm Cassandra Wilson
Celyn, whose gaze hadn’t left his, even as the dusk dimmed the room around them; Celyn, who was making his own responses in a cool voice, his hands steady on Sjurd’s.
Because eventually they have to leave the islands.
12. Speed Your Journey (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves)
He had known the Empire kept slaves, but he had never thought to meet any here.
I can’t really explain why this is so appropriate without spoilers, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. It’s deliberately a Welsh Male Voice Choir version, rather than an operatic one, because of all the Welsh influences in the story.
13. The Blue Bonnets (or Rise! Rise! if you’re on Grooveshark) The Corries
“Men of Axholme, to arms! To arms against the Empire!”
Because there’s nothing like the battle march of a doomed and hopelessly romantic cause to finish on. ^_^
14. No More Sailing The McCalmans
Ys, and Celyn, and a wild hope of freedom
Because everyone comes home in the end. 🙂
Hmm, that done, they barely need to actually post the story. The whole thing’s right there.