As I mentioned in my previous post, Soul Medley is now out in Andromeda Spaceways #72. I discuss briefly the origins of the story, but here's a more detailed account ... spoiler free, if you haven't read it yet, though I do encourage you to do so!
Soul Medley started in response to a monthly challenge prompt at Fantasy-Writers.org. The prompt was to write a story about / involving music. I decided to build a story around the repertoire of famed blind Irish traditional harper Turlough O'Carolan. He's easily the most prolific composer in the traditional repertoire, responsible for a few hundred tunes. Now, I'm not a huge O'Carolan fan; like many artists who churn out works, a lot of them start to sound the same. But he does have a few gorgeous tunes.
One of the most unusual is Eleanor Plunkett. There are two stories around Eleanor Plunkett, one about the namesake, one about the tune. (You may sometimes see it referred to as Planxty Eleanor Plunkett, a planxty being a tune written in honor of a person. Many of O'Carolan's tunes are planxties, whether referred to by that name or not.) Eleanor Plunkett, the person, was allegedly the only survivor of her family, who shut themselves up in their castle and drowned in boiling water (?!). Probably historical exaggeration of some sort, but that Eleanor was the last of the Plunketts is not in doubt.
Legend has it that O'Carolan was playing the first part of Eleanor Plunkett, the tune, when a bystander commented that he'd heard another song just like it. O'Carolan was so incensed he stopped right there and never finished writing it.
So that takes care of the inspiration for my main characters. For my antagonist, I decided to reference another traditional harper: Rory Dall O'Cathain, also a blind harper of Irish / Scottish background (both cultures claim him) who pre-dates O'Carolan.
Throughout the story, there are references to other O'Carolan tunes, such as Sheebeg and Sheemore (the Anglicized translation of the Irish title), which refers to a battle between the fairies over two hills: the big hill and little hill. And I tried to make the journey through the underworld feel like a classic tale of the fairy, while still having its own unique qualities.