Sarah J. Maas, author of the Throne of Glass series, finds inspiration in everything from movie scores to heavy metal. Here she shares the songs that inspiredHeir of Fire, the latest book in the fantasy saga.
Music plays a huge role in creating my novels. I keep extensive playlists for every book, and almost every scene, plotline, and character is inspired by music. Movie scores and classical music are usually my go-to sources, but I’ve found inspiration in everything from heavy metal to country to rap.
When it came time to daydream about and then write Heir of Fire, the third book in my Throne of Glass series, the music I listened to formed the backbone (and heart) of the story. By the time I finished drafting the book, my playlist for it was the longest of any I’d ever created, clocking in at over 800 songs, divided internally into three separate playlists, one for each of the three narratives: Celaena, Dorian/Chaol, and Manon Blackbeak (a brand-new character to the series). I usually dislike traditional outlining methods, but these playlists wound up helping me keep track of the plots, emotional arcs, and general tone and feel of the story. Here are some of the songs that shaped and sculpted Heir of Fire:
“Waking Up” from the Oblivion soundtrack by M83: This is the first song on my Heir of Fire playlist—and the song that inspired not just Celaena’s opening scene but also her emotional state when the book begins. There’s something about its relentless beat, the darkness and light, that captured her rage, self-loathing, and brokenness, and also allowed me to slip easily into her head. I can’t read her opening chapter without hearing this music.
“The First Ambush and Remembering the Wilderness” from the Patriot soundtrack by John Williams: I wrote a good chunk of Crown of Midnight to the Patriot soundtrack, so it was no surprise that the first song on the playlist for Chaol Westfall’s narrative is from it (especially since that first scene is a dream/flashback to Crown of Midnight). The music is haunting, dark, slightly terrifying—it both set the tone for Chaol and Dorian’s narrative in Heir of Fire and also clicked with how I imagined Chaol’s feelings regarding the truth about Celaena’s past (and what he envisions for her future).
“Welcome to Fright Night” from the Fright Night soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi: The entire Fright Night soundtrack (and film) actually helped to inspire a new character in the series—Manon Blackbeak, an immortal (and very wicked) witch. We got a glimpse into the world of the witches of Erilea in Crown of Midnight, and Manon’s plotline picks up where that one left off. This piece inspired her opening scene—especially the predatory/stalking pace.
There are a few other new characters introduced in Heir of Fire, and perhaps my favorite of them is Prince Rowan Whitethorn, the Fae warrior tasked with training Celaena. “Hearts Like Ours” by the Naked and Famous was a song that didn’t inspire any specific scene in Heir of Fire, but rather reminded me of their relationship (the lyrics are eerily accurate).
Commenting on the hundreds of other songs on the playlist would 1) take forever and 2) be pretty spoilery, but I’ll hopefully get to share them once readers have had a chance to read Heir of Fire for themselves. I’m currently working on the fourth book in the series, whose playlist is already over 600 songs long and counting. And in the meantime, I’ll be keeping my ears open for new music to inspire me.