Soundtrack to the Story

I have almost 10k words done for the anthology piece due to Dark Red Press on the 20th of January.  I’m pretty sure it’s only half done.  15,000 words was my minimum, but I know I’ll go over that and hit closer to 20k.  It’s a post-apocalyptic tale, just as the other 3 will be from the other DRP authors, for a book entitled 4POCALYPSE.  An interesting premise, each of us taking a spin on that speculative fiction sub-genre.  Like an idiot, I decided to set mine in the ruins of 2270 and fill it with advanced tech and my twist on zombies.  (I didn’t foresee the amount of research that would have to go into this one.)

As with all of my longer works, it took me a while to find the “voice.”  Mostly, this was because I hadn’t found the soundtrack yet.  Each of my novels or e-novellas have had their own selection of music.  THE STITCHING was done entirely to Murder By Death, while IN BLEED COUNTRY had a lot of Puscifer and Tool.  A COMPLICATED DIVINE was set to Alkaline Trio and other modern punk bands, while my out-of-print novel BETWEEN US AND OBLIVION was penned exclusively to the post-rock band 65DaysOfStatic.  It took me a while, but this current novella is getting hammered out to a mix of DeadMau5, Skrillex and The Glitch Mob.  The music created by those groups fit the vibe of the tale.

I know some authors who must write in near silence – that would drive me insane.  At the same time, once I’ve found my tale’s soundtrack, I won’t listen to it during the writing process except when I’m actually writing the story.  It forces me to keep going and doesn’t dilute the feeling.  When I’m writing random articles, blogs (or just pissing about on Facebook), I find any instrumental post-rock works well for me.  While emotive and creative, it almost acts as a default sound to be, those guitars from This Will Destroy You and Explosion in The Sky and the vocals from Sigur Ros.

After this novella is done, the sequel to IN BLEED COUNTRY is supposed to be next on my plate.  Perhaps I’ll find the soundtrack in one of Maynard Keenan’s acts again, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was set in stone.  Certain aspects of a story writes itself, and a tale demands its own tune.

Excerpt from the classic article, “In Defense Of Purple Prose.”

Yep, Hemmingway can go fuck himself.  Same with all the other proponents of “Literary Fiction.”  I’m quite proud to write “Low-Brow Escapist Fiction.”  ‘Cause, ya know… people sometimes actually wanna read stuff that’s fun and interesting.

Please see the full article here… http://www.nytimes.com/1985/12/15/books/in-defense-of-purple-prose.html?pagewanted=all

Excerpts from “In Defense Of Purple Prose,” by Paul West

“Certain producers of plain prose have conned the reading public into believing that only in prose plain, humdrum or flat can you articulate the mind of inarticulate ordinary Joe. Even to begin to do that you need to be more articulate than Joe, or you might as well tape-record him and leave it at that. This minimalist vogue depends on the premise that only an almost invisible style can be sincere, honest, moving, sensitive and so forth, whereas prose that draws attention to itself by being revved up, ample, intense, incandescent or flamboyant turns its back on something almost holy – the human bond with ordinariness. I doubt if much unmitigated ordinariness can exist.”

“So long as originality and lexical precision prevail, the sentient writer has a right to immerse himself or herself in phenomena and come up with as personal a version as can be. A writer who can’t do purple is missing a trick. A writer who does purple all the time ought to have more tricks.”

“There is language that plunges in, not too proud to steal a noise from Mother Nature, and there is language that prides itself on the distance it keeps from nature. Then there is purple, which, from quite a distance, plunges back into phenomena all over again, only to emerge with a bigger verbal ostentation.”

“And it is not a matter of inventing something out of nothing, for that cannot be done; everything is derivative, so there is no getting away from what might be thought the bases of life, of art. The farfetched always takes you home again, never mind how strained its combinations, how almost unthinkable its novelties. The color we have never seen, the smell we have never smelled, the mind we have never known, can only be made from the colors, the smells, the minds, we already know.”

“All this may sound like the latest variant of the old Classical-versus-Romantic quarrel, and maybe it is; but, even more, it is the quarrel between those who know what literature is allowed to be and those who want to let it evolve… life is infinitely more complex and magical than we will ever know unless we stop trying to pin down feeling in pat little formulas or sentences so understated as to be vacant, their only defense the lamebrain cop-out that, because they say so little, they imply volumes.”

I have no patience or sympathy for these arm-chair critics and ivory-tower academics who cast judgment on genre fiction writers.  They have grown too concerned with the “science” of writing, as opposed to the artform it is supposed to be.  And what is art, but a stylized form of communication between the creator and those who experience it? 

There’s a reason so many genre writers are famous and beloved in modern times opposed to those who would pen a novel in the same manner a physicist would plot out an equation.  With rocketing sales in e-books (http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/story/2012-01-09/ebooks-sales-surge/52458672/1), supporters of this hollow writing style are going to have to accept the fact that the majority of people read for entertainment.  Give me aliens and explosions, hidden teasures and giant monsters, cyborg detectives and martian princesses.  And give them all to me with feeling!

 

 

My Murder

I feel a certain kinship with darker things.  I don’t know, I suppose I feel as if there is more validity in it than in any pretty social niceties.  Darkness is the natural state of things, much like chaos, a default that can only be partially limited by the occurances of light and order.  The latter two are imposed, the former simply our primordial origins.  But we so do like to delude ourselves that we have some iota of control.  The beautiful absurdity of the universe can come visiting whenever it chooses.

Tonight, I opened my front door at 6:15pm, preparing to walk a few blocks to a planned destination.  As I put on my coat, I heard what I thought was rainfall, perhaps even hail.  It wasn’t.  Although I had grabbed my umbrella there by the door, I walked out onto my porch to discover the sound I had heard was the beating of wings – hundreds of them.  Across the street, in the two mammoth trees, swarms of darkness fluttered, then black waves rolling up through the sky.  It was a “Murder” of Crows, the term given to a flock of this type, but more gathered than I had ever seen in one place.  Ink spills shifting before the stars, so many of them that I had honestly mistaken their sound for that of a storm.  A murder of crows?  I looked above and saw a killing spree’s worth.

Perhaps others would have felt dread, or at least anxiety.  While I was initially astonished, the sensations were more likened to… awe.  Inspiration and even joy.

The crows, they did not follow me.  I think I would have liked that.  I reached my destination and frantically asked others assembled if they had seen such feathered hordes.  No one had, and most looked at me a bit incredulously (as per usual). However, when I returned no more than a hour later with my father, he too saw the Xenocide Of Black Aves, heard their mockery of rain.  And even a man as well-educated and traveled as my father was struck by experience.  At least someone besides myself witnessed this brutal mass-Murder.

Minutes ago, I stepped outside once more… just to see, just to know.  Less, but still easily one hundred crows sat silently in the treetops.  I clapped only a single time, loud and echoing at 2:30am early on a Monday morning.  It sounded like a bag of nails being scattered across a tiled floor, I could almost feel the wind from their wings and weight of them released.  Midnight ribbons slashing through the air, only for a moment, then settling back to their perches.  Just birds, nature in motion, but we all know how particular events can cause more wild reactions in the prinitive portions of our gestalt consciousness.  Reason can be shredded against the might of the deeper human psyche, and many would have found this incident disturbing in some manner.

But I didn’t.

I smiled.  I smiled and I hope they will remain my neighbors for a while…

 

 

4POCALYPSE promo art for Dark Red Press