Music to write to: Abney Park

I was stocking up for four weeks of “don’t talk to me.” It was October, starting November 1st I would begin the biggest professional challenge I had accepted to date – to write a novel in 30 days. I knew I needed two things: food and music.

Food so my family wouldn’t completely revolt and tear my laptop from my cramped cold hands, and music so my fingers would keep moving through the pain and whining.

I knew “The Dictator’s Daughter” would have steampunk elements so I invested in Abney Park. The lead singer, Captain Robert, portrays himself as the captain of a time traveling dirigible called Opheila. Abney Park describe themselves as from a time that never was, but that they wish had been: when steam power continued to develop and airships ruled the sky. Since I knew there would be dirigibles in my book, and they would be involved in a battle, Abney Park’s song “Under the Radar” was food for my imagination.

I think you’ll see Abney Park’s influence in this scene from The Dictator’s Daughter when my heroine, Liridona, gets her first up-close look at a dirigible.


Liri could barely catch her breath as the first air fish swam closer. It was illustrated with grotesque teeth on the leading edge, dripping with painted blood as vivid red as the blood in the nun’s ancient manuscript. Flames from a boiler in the fish’s belly blended in with the painted flames that ran up its sides and out the slowly creaking, flapping wings.

The air fish was close enough now that the defenders on the wall could make out the individuals on the craft, and watch what they did as they worked the massive machinery. The captain, for lack of a better word, rode at the prow of the oblong deck suspended under the massive balloon, passing commands via speaker tube to the boiler operator and to the helmsman who stood behind a wheel that looked for all the world like it came off a ship controlling the massive rudder. Ship terms seemed appropriate for this machine that somehow seemed more suited for water than air or land.

Suspended on the outside rail of the boiler deck were neat coils of ropes with small anchors attached, ‘grappling hooks’, Engel corrected. Behind the ropes were crank driven spools. Along the inside were shielded stations for archers, vertical tubes basically, with a rotating slit the arrows flew from.

“Fantastic,” muttered Engel beside her. Liri glanced at him with disbelief, fighting the urge to smack him back to the reality. “They hook onto wherever they want to land and just crank in the ropes, pulling themselves down.”

“We are UNDER ATTACK, Engel!” Liri said, feeling she had to state the obvious.

Do you have songs that feed your imagination?

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