Michael R. Fletcher is the excellent author (and crazy mind) behind the book ‘Beyond Redemption’, and today I am delighted in having him do a guest post on my blog! I read Beyond Redemption when it came out earlier this year, and it immediately became one of my favorite novels in the dark fantasy genre.
I am currently planning a blog post on music and writing, so we thought it would be fun if we did a two-part thing out of it. Michael will kick us off with his thoughts today, and I’ll do my post tomorrow.
MUSIC AND WRITING
Many authors listen to music while writing. Some choose music based on mood—effectively matching the song to whatever scene they’re working on at the time—while others simply choose something in their favorite genre. Some listen to classical or instrumental music to avoid the distraction of lyrics; thinking up words while listening to other words can be difficult.
None of this is true in my case. Or at least not completely.
I write in a cocoon. The blinds are drawn and the office door closed. I do everything in my power to turn off the outside world. That world, however, tends to regard my plans and efforts as a challenge. The neighborhood children run amok, screaming at the top of their lungs. The trash collectors dawdle down the street at a deafening crawl. For some reason the guy across the street has one of those vans that beeps when it’s in reverse, and it takes him fifteen minutes to back into his driveway every single day. Sometimes twice. And somehow, in suburbia, there is always someone cutting their lawn. Do you people not have jobs!
I am at war with reality. And if you’ve read Beyond Redemption, this will make some sense.
I freely confess I have been an unrepentant metalhead since I turned twelve. Damn that was a long time ago. Like many fans of metal my tastes have grown ever heavier. Where I listened to Iron Maiden in high-school, Metallica in university, and Pantera afterwards, I now mostly listen to death metal. These days I tend to reach for Sylosis, Hypocrisy, and Cattle Decapitation rather than turning to something a little mellower. When I found myself getting annoyed at the outside world for intruding on my fantasy, it’s no surprise I turned to music to help. But like many authors I find hearing words distracting while I’m writing.
Incoherent rage to the rescue.
Death metal is perfect writing music for exactly the same reason so many people don’t like it: Most of the time you have no fucking idea what they’re saying.
I’m going to back up a moment to help paint the picture. Between the years of 1997 and 2012 I worked as an audio-engineer. I did Front-of-House live sound for over ten thousand bands and recorded a fair number of albums for assorted Toronto acts no one has ever heard of. When I left the music biz I sold off the vast majority of my gear, but what remains has found it’s way into several home entertainment systems. There isn’t a stereo in the house that doesn’t have a sub-woofer. The system in my office is comprised of all the ‘ugly’ gear, that stuff my wife doesn’t want in the rest of the house. Luckily for me, the ugly gear also happens to be the best sounding. Off to my left is an old NAD amplifier from the mid-eighties. At either corner of my six-foot long desk are my old Tannoy studio monitors. Under the desk—taking up room I really would kinda like for my legs—is a Yorkville studio sub-woofer meant to fill a much bigger space with crushing bass. When I crank this system up things shake. Downstairs, in the kitchen, plates and glassware rattle when I turn it up.
So there I am, writing Beyond Redemption, surrounded by a decently powerful sound-system, trying to insulate myself from reality. It first clicked when I turned on Hypocricy’s album, Virus. I spun up the volume knob until the outside world disappeared. I sat there, cocooned in rage (Let the Knife do the Talking) and writing a very dark and violent scene. The outside world ceased t exist. Reality no longer impinged on my fantasy. From that day on I wrote wrapped in metal. Most of the music I write to has lyrics so screamed and or distorted as to be incomprehensible if you aren’t paying close attention. For me, it’s perfect.
And then I finished writing and began the editing process. It turns out I must edit in silence.
So, while I’m writing my books the neighbors can yell at me, and while I’m editing I’ll yell at them. Seems a fair trade.
How does it work for you? Do you listen to music while you write, or must you have silence?
About Michael R. Fletcher
Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author. His novel, Beyond Redemption, a work of dark fantasy and rampant delusion, was published by HARPER Voyager in 2015.
His début novel, 88, a cyberpunk tale about harvesting children for their brains, was released by Five Rivers Publishing in 2013.
The next two Manifest Delusions novels, The Mirror’s Truth, and The All Consuming, are currently in various stages of editing while Michael tries to be the best husband and dad he can be.
Michael is represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.
About Beyond Redemption:
Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn’t an axiom, it’s a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.
Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to become a god. A god they can control.
But there are many who would see this would-be-god in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one can resist. Three reprobates—The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left—have their own nefarious plans for the young god.
As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one more obstacle: time is running out. When one’s delusions become more powerful, they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is:
Who will rule there?