The hero isn't always the good guy, or girl.

It’s no secret that I LOVE music. But did you know that—as a method writer—I will listen to what my characters listen to? If you’ve been reading these blog posts you know that already. It leads me to interesting collections of music. And, while I can say I do love most types of music, I do draw the line at Grindcore. That was where I tapped out. Luckily, that character had time to grow out of that phase and was interesting in other ways.

Backing up a minute, first to explain what a “method writer” is and/or is not, in my case. In order to craft realism into my MC’s (main characters in this instance) I will immerse into my characters’ mannerisms and tastes, eating patterns, habits, learn more about their work, their philosophy on life, how they speak, etc. Music is a BIG aid in that department. Especially when you have characters who don’t have huge character issues, or chatty* commentary.

Code Name Candle is no exception.

*(Indy and Sprout should have gotten me committed if "voices in your head" is truly a qualifier. CHATT-Y)

What music does Nickel like?

I usually start with age, regional influences, and what I know about the character so far to determine a jumping off point. Nickel fell into that odd late Millenial group who revisited Heavy Metal with groups like Seether, Bullet For My Valentine, and Avenged Sevenfold.

That helped me build “his” playlist.

But what about Rachel?

She was MUCH harder to pin down because GenZ …? Moreover, there are two HUGE events in her life that will have music that does not fit the mould of what I would guess to be her usual choices. And, face it… Taylor Swift and Five Finger Death Punch don’t really “vibe.”

On that list, I had Beyonce, Miley, and more. It hurt to get rid of all that good music. In the end, it only represented a portion of her story, and it needed more of Rachel’s true personality, which was extremely complicated.

At first, I kept their playlists separated. That was a mistake, and too uneven of an influence on my poor writing muse.

Then I made a discovery…

Early in the (as of now) playlist, you’ll get dissonance, but primarily Nickel’s angst because his main struggle is trying to fit in with the bikers. The closest music in the mix is Prodigy and the Crystal Method. That took me down a trance/dubstep/techno rabbit hole. Some of it remained, but only a very small amount in comparison to the content I downloaded, listened to, and ultimately rejected.


But, then I found/discovered/re-discovered Sleep Token.

Particularly, “Take me back to Eden,” and the songs accompanying that particular favorite song.


You begin to see their love story journey in Alkaline and Aqua Regia. Particularly the latter song. It hints at the struggle both of them have building a true and lasting relationship when there is so much stacking up against them.

And finally, I could add the break up. (Sorry, should have warned about spoilers, right?)

Words as Weapons, Careless Whispers, You Oughta Know, and even abcdefu, are that whole mess. One song that I couldn’t seem to get rid of was “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. Now I KNOW there’s a lot of hate over that music video, but overall it is a solid breakup song that was brilliantly sung no matter what the haters say.

But the aftermath of all that is pretty brutal. And that’s where Nickel’s music turns much darker. Linkin Park’s “In the End” and Seether’s “Fade Away” are him leaving his youth’s tragedies behind because he’s built all new reasons to talk to a therapist.

Then, there’s an interlude. 10,000 Days by Tool represents the time apart. Which let me put two Sleep Token songs to build on the fact he NEVER LET GO of Rachel entirely.

And by the time we revisit Tool with “Vicarious” he’s resigned to living without her.

But the story couldn’t end there, right?

Sell My Soul and Nothing Left To Lose are the shift from then to present day. He would sell his soul to keep her safe, and she’s figured out she’s got nothing left to lose and comes back to Hagerstown.

Which may or may not have been a mistake.

The remainder of the playlist is the build to the showdown with small interludes for “Is it Really You?” and “Truth” mixed into the fight for their love, their lives, and their friends.

I leave it on high notes with “When Legends Rise” and “Life is Beautiful” to wrap up their happy ever after, which was too long in the making.

The playlist as of July 5:

  • Welcome to the Family – Avenged Sevenfold
    Bikers are assholes.
  • Your Betrayal – Bullet For My Valentine
    No playlist of metal between 2000 and 2015 could miss this one. It represents the split between the Destroyers and the Rebel Souls
  • Battlefield – Svrcina
    A newer song, it introduces Rachel and her love of dance music, but also reminds you that the course to love is sometimes a struggle
  • The Thing That Should Not Be – Metallica
    Throwback to the old guard of the Rebel Souls rising up to grab a piece of the game
  • Symphony Of Destruction – Megadeth
    A Destroyers’ club anthem. Period. That’s a hill I’ll die on.
  • Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold
    Funny story about this one. I used to listen to it before the throne battle in War of Empires. Yeah, gamer girl here. It helped having this experience to understand Nickel a bit better.
  • Fall into the Light – Dream Theater
    I couldn’t NOT have DT in here, and this one rocked.
  • Betrayed – Avenged Sevenfold
    Do you see a pattern here? This is for Nickel and how he finds out his own brothers might be working against him.
  • This Venom – Disturbed
    For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Venom gets inside you and poisons you.
  • Another Way to Die – Disturbed
    For some reason, I needed this song to bridge the betrayal and the sweet contrast of Nickel’s growing love for Rachel.
  • The Offering – Sleep Token/
    Such beautiful lyrics. He wants to lover her so much and this song… WOW.
  • Alkaline – Sleep Token
    More amazing lyrics from Sleep Token. In particular, the discussion on this Reddit thread where she’s perfectly misaligned… “…that Vessel has been with and she’s changing him, perhaps changing the way he perceives love. It could also feel wrong to Vessel, seeing as he refers to her as “perfectly misaligned”. When Vessel says, “Cuz I’m dying to melt through to the heart of her molecules til the particles part like holy water”, he is saying that he wants to see all of who this woman is. He wants to be vulnerable with her and her to be vulnerable with him. He wants to fully embrace who she is. “


But all good things end, especially when there is MORE of the story to tell.

  • Nightmare – Avenged Sevenfold
    This song begins the slide into the second half of the book.
  • Bad Company – Five Finger Death Punch
    Are we talking the Destroyers, the Rebel Souls, or both?
  • Peace Sells – Megadeath
    Not sure this one is going to remain, but it is a jam and a half. It bridges the conflict as Nickel tries to figure out what he’s going to do about the betrayals he’s experiencing.
  • How I Could Just Kill a Man – Rage Against the Machine
    Nickel’s shift from hero to full on anti-hero.
  • Unholy Confessions – Avenged Sevenfold
  • Aqua Regia – Sleep Token
    Lyrics: “These days I’m a circuit board
    Integrated hardware you cannot afford
    The perfect start to a perfect war
    Putting down the roses picking up the sword…”

    A perfect song for Nickel’s new self.
  • Words as Weapons – Seether
    He’s no good for her, and she’s beginning to figure it out.
  • Careless Whispers – Seether
    Is he cheating or not? We wanna know.
  • You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette
    While not specifically mentioned by name, this song is the anthem for break ups. We feel every word of this one, no matter how old it is.
  • Abcdefu – GAYLE
    Everybody but your dog. Yup.
  • Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
    I just can’t ignore this song. Especially how she is partially guilty in the break up. Or, is she?
  • In the End – Linkin Park
    I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end it didn’t even matter.
  • Fade Away – Seether
    The break up. For real. “Today’s the day we’ll fade away”
  • 10,000 Days – Tool
    For Rachel. “Look him in the eye, look him in the eye, and tell him
    “I never lived a lie, never took a life, but surely saved one
    Hallelujah, it’s time for you to bring me home.”
  • Take Me Back To Eden – Sleep Token
  • The Love You Want – Sleep Token
  • Vicarious – Tool
    When they find the phone, whoops… spoiler alert.
  • Sell My Soul – Seether
    He gets the call and will do anything for her.
  • Nothing Left to Lose – The Pretty Reckless
    She’s back, and nineteen was DEFINITELY too young. But she’s not 19 anymore.
  • ONE MAN ARMY – Prodigy & Tom Morello
    Nickel thinks he’s alone, but he’s not. I might remove this one. It doesn’t fit well.
  • Love-Hate-Sex-Pain – Godsmack
    It gets confusing, doesn’t it?
  • Is it Really You? – Sleep Token
    Reunions require communication.
  • Pray For My Enemies – Le Castle Vania & Hyper
    Not only Nickel has something to prove.
  • This Means War – Avenged Sevenfold
    Everything led up to this point.
  • Truth – Seether
    Beaten down, is it all going to fail?
  • Roots – In This Moment
    Rachel digs deep
  • The Day Is My Enemy – The Prodigy
    What a kick ass song and vocalist.
  • John Wick Mode – Le Castle Vania
    John Wick kicks ass, so do our MCs
  • When Legends Rise – Godsmack
    That’s right, another Destroyers story becomes legend.
  • Rest in Peace – Dorothy
    While this would probably fit better in the break up part, it is quite fitting here when the FMC rises up and manages to overcome evil.
  • Life is Beautiful – Sixx A.M.
    A late-comer to the line up, found through Hockey jams. We’ll see if it holds up.

Might add/have added:

  • The Boys are Back – Dropkick Murphys
    To show the reunification of the Souls and the Destroyers
  • And while we’re at it… Rose Tattoo – Dropkick Murphys


2 responses to “Music by Candlelight?”

  1. I am absolutely in love with the playlist and it already tells quit a story! I can’t wait for all of it come together.

    1. I’m pushing for September/October, which is probably bad because the PI Anthology, and potentially another anthology come out at that time.

      Not rushing things here, IF I can help it. And YEAH… the playlist is rockin’.

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