The Talon & the Blade went through three distinct versions, and the playlist evolved as well. But some songs stuck, even though the original inspiration disappeared. Sweater Weather, by The Neighbourhood, was one of those.

I hate the beach, yet I stand, in California with my toes in the sand.

The Neighbourhood, Sweater Weather

I had such a clear image in my mind of Gregor following Ana reluctantly down a beach in his suit. I tried it out as their first “date” but I just couldn’t make it work. Turned out the restaurant fit better with the goal for the scene. Even though the scene changed, the song stuck and became part of Gregor’s character.

It took me a while to find Ana’s voice. Eventually, the key came in her past loss and relationship with Raymond Nightfeather, her boss. When the book opens, Ana is negotiating the understanding that she and Raymond will never be closer than they are now, trust, friendship is not something he’s able to give. After a century, that isn’t enough, even if she once felt she owed Raymond her life. The contrast between how she relates to Raymond versus how Gregor and Azrael form a stark contrast. She’s not gone yet but she’s leaving, was a perfect theme song for Ana as we meet her.

She’s halfway over this hard on son…And she’s quite sure she’s not the only one…she’ll take what she needs and she’ll do what she must,
She’s not gone yet but she’s leaving. 

She’s not gone yet but she’s leaving, The Fratelis

I feel like every time Gregor walks into the room, the Johnny Cash version of God’s Gonna Cut You Down should play in the background. Something about the gravel in Johnny’s voice just does it. Plus, vengeance and past wrongs play large in the plot and the song alludes perfectly to the inescapability of both. Both Ana and Gregor struggle to reconcile their mortal pasts with the immortality they’ve chosen.

Well, you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What’s down in the dark will be brought to the light

God’s Gonna Cut You Down (as sung by Johnny Cash)

I learned quickly while writing a monster hunt road trip with two immortal killers that finding moments of quiet and reflection would take more work than swordfights, gun battles, and sinking ferries combined. Thank goodness for Florence and the Machine for emotional yet unsentimental songs about companionship.

…the loneliness never left me
I always took it with me
But I can put it down in the pleasure of your company

And if tomorrow it’s all over
At least we had it for a moment
Oh darling things seem so unstable
But for a moment we were able to be still.

No Choir, Florence and the Machine

And when the companionship turns to something more intimate, is there anything hotter than a cover song done by the opposite sex? Eli Leib’s version of Good for You, laid me low the first time I heard it.

I just wanna look good for you, good for you
Baby, let me be good to you, good to you
Let me show you how proud I am to be yours
Leave [these jeans] a mess on the floor
And still look good for you, good for you

Good for you, as sung by Eli Leib

Water plays a huge part in the Talon & the Blade, and that was reflected in the playlist: Water by Bishop Briggs conjured the fractured relationship between Ana and Raymond, Jack Garratt’s Water was Gregor’s getting in over his head, literally. Plus, Sea Song by Apocalyptica, Ocean by Martin Garix…lol. Kind of a theme, eh?

I listen to instrumental/semi-instrumental music, and a few favorites kept me company frequently while revising the Talon & the Blade: Zoë Keating Possible, All of the Lights (as arranged by the Portland Cello Project) and the Assassin’s Creed Liberation soundtrack.

If you find yourself in a lion’s den
I’ll jump right in and pull my pin
And go with you, I’ll go with you.

Twenty One Pilots, My Blood

As I was finishing what would be the final version of the ending, I was listening to a lot of Twenty One Pilots. ‘My Blood’ perfectly defined the depth and commitment of Gregor’s loyalty. Once given, there was no going back.

And that concludes our little trip through the Talon & the Blade playlist. As always, the full list is available on Spotify:

And I’ll leave you with the lyrics to the song that, if I had to choose just one, suited The Talon & the Blade.

This bitter earth
Well, what a fruit it bears
What good is love
Mmh, that no one shares?
And if my life is like the dust
Ooh, that hides the glow of a rose
What good am I?
Heaven only knows
Oh, this bitter earth
Yes, can it be so cold?
Today you’re young
Too soon you’re old
But while a voice
Within me cries
I’m sure someone
May answer my call
And this bitter earth, ooh
May not, oh be so bitter after all…

“This Bitter Earth” by Clyde Lovern Otis (as performed by Dinah Washington)

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