Posts Tagged episodes

‘Pictures in melody’ – Aaron Sikes

for logoYou could divide my Undercover Soundtrack guests into those who aren’t put off by lyrics and those who are. My guest this week is one of the latter. He says that music with lyrics is too domineering when he’s trying to write – but that orchestral or ambient electronic music sets his imagination free to roam. His novel is a quirky noir of dirigibles, automata, back alleys and a hardboiled hack (the bipedal journalistic sort, not an equine), and his central character was honed by long hours simmering with Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for The Dark Knight. He is Aaron Sikes and he’ll be here on Wednesday with his Undercover Soundtrack.

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The Undercover Soundtrack – Michael Stutz

for logo‘I knew she and I were both fast nothings forever in the same big lonely dream’

Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative process – perhaps to open a secret channel to understand a character, populate a mysterious place, or explore the depths in a pivotal moment. This week’s guest is Michael Stutz @MichaelStutz

Soundtrack by The Carpenters, Sarah Vaughan and Clifford Brown

Writing and music are together, are one. That’s how it’s always been for me — I started to make music at about the same time I began writing, and in perfect synaesthesia they’re both ways of painting out the colors inside me. I have an acoustic in my workoom and most days, when I get up for a sec from the keyboard, I’ll play it — when you’re working on something that takes years to complete, it’s no small exhilaration to grab a guitar and make a new song in like 48 seconds, which I literally do all the time.

MichaelStutzMy new book Circuits of the Wind is the story of a life — Ray Valentine, a slacker who grows up online. It’s a big, serious, literary history of the net generation, taking place over three decades — from the 70s through to 2000, which is far enough back to be pretty nostalgic now. There’s plenty of music along the way, but the writing itself’s also directly informed by it – often some piece of popular music will haunt a gestating scene, and in the process of writing I’ll pick up on it.

In the beginning, for instance, about 23 pages in, there’s a scene that goes on for a while in what I call a rhapsodic soundmovie – it’s a sweeping vision of Christmastime and what that means to little Raymond in the suburban America of the 70s and 80s. When preparing to write it I’d recalled The Carpenters’ 1978 version of The Christmas Waltz, a song originally written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn. I knew that somewhere in that world I was trying to capture, this song was playing — and now when I hear it, I think back to that passage.

I love Karen Carpenter. I love her so much, I mean, man, she could sing — what she and her brother were doing so perfectly well was also anachronistically against the whole hulking motion of postmodern culture, and in that sense is just how I feel about my own place in it now.

Styne and Cahn are among the best of the best of those songwriters that make up what they call the great American songbook — to which I’d include Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini, John Blackburn, Johnny Mandel, Mitchell Parish and two dozen more. This stuff’s in my blood thick and for a long while I thought for sure I was going to be one of those guys, until I realised that I needed to go to an emotional space where songs don’t quite reach, where you need long narrative prose to arrive.

But one piece of music needs to be mentioned because it literally sparked the book. The idea for Circuits of the Wind came to me, complete and whole, while listening to this divine recording of Sarah Vaughan and Clifford Brown’s performance of Lullaby of Birdland, written by George Shearing and George David Weiss.

COTWv1wSomething unforgettable happened that night, incredible, that showed me the end of the book and everything that led up to it. It was late and I was alone and it was like the whole world around me melted away — I mean I actually saw this, like Allen Ginsberg’s vision of Blake over Manhattan there was this real, physical, external experience of reality bending right back, and everything melting; even my own heartbeat stopped at one point and I saw that not only was the world a big dream but me too, because I’m in it, and therefore I didn’t hold or own anything, not even myself – when Sarah was scatting in the middle of the track I knew that she and I were both fast nothings forever in the same big lonely dream universe.

To think I’d hoped to look into eternity for so long and here suddenly whoah, I was actually doing it, where now a whole book was neatly laid out for me ready to go. It was originally subtitled ‘a ghost story’, which is probably about as much as I can say without giving it all away, and that’s plenty – because after all what’s writing anyway, but us ghosts in here singing?

Michael Stutz is the author of Circuits of the Wind, published in three volumes (and a single, unabridged Kindle edition). You can sometimes find him on Facebook and, rarely, Twitter.

GIVEAWAY Michael is excited to give away a copy of Circuits of The Wind to anyone who shares this post on Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter – each platform counts as one entry with a maximum of one entry per platform. To let him know, leave a comment here. You can also enter by leaving a comment here! The prize is either a print or an ebook edition – you choose.

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‘Somewhere in the world I was trying to capture, this song was playing’ – Michael Stutz

for logoMy guest this week has been noodling with music for as long as he’s wielded words. When he needs a break from the keyboard, he picks up a guitar and plucks a string. He describes his novel as ‘the story of a guy who grows up on line’, a world in which music is an essential part of the landscape, haunting the scenes as they come to life on the page. He first released it as a serial, which means he and I have something in common – indeed he sent me an email that prompted a recent post over on the Purple Blog. He is Michael Stutz, and he’ll be here on Wednesday talking about the Undercover Soundtrack to Circuits of the Wind.

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World Book Night – and The Red Season is free

Originally, My Memories of a Future Life was released as four 25,000-word novellasThe Red Season, Rachmaninov and Ruin, Like Ruby and The Storm.  Tonight and tomorrow – or depending on your time zone perhaps a bit of both – I’m giving away Kindle copies of The Red Season to mark World Book Night.

If you’re in the UK, get it here. US customers, find it here. If you know anyone who might like it, spread the word. And happy World Book Night.

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0.99c launch offer ends on Sunday

If you’re reading My Memories of a Future Life episode by episode, here’s a friendly reminder: on Sunday the 0.99c launch offer ends and the price of each episode will be USD$2.99. They’ll always be available, but if you’re aiming to complete the set for under USD$4, grab them from the Kindle store now.

This week I told Jane Friedman‘s blog about the serialisation experiment, warts and all, and the piece was rebroadcasted by The Gatekeepers Post.

If faffing with episodes makes you see red, the novel is also available in a better-behaved, complete form on Kindle (US and UK) and also in print (and Amazon.com have knocked USD$4 off the price). If you’re my side of the Atlantic you can now get the print version from Amazon UK and not have to pay a bird to carry it from the US.

As I didn’t manage to post the link last time, here’s the quick route to Joanna Penn’s video/blog/podcast in which we compared notes on writing literary fiction versus genre and were complimented on the faces we pulled while in earnest discussion.  And new up yesterday, I guested on the rather fab For Books’ Sake, where I talked about how three fictional characters I studied at A level still feed into the stories I write today. Perhaps we’re all still 16 years old at heart.

As always, there are three ways you can sample the novel: on Bookbuzzr, on the Kindle’s free sample and on a free, atmospherically sound-effected audio.

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Like Ruby – Episode 3 nearly here

‘Compelling, well told and hugely entertaining’

‘Beautiful, simple, evocative’

‘Delves into the dangerous powers of mind over matter’

‘Part 2 was even better than part 1’ – Andrew Rollings, Facebook

‘Is it the 12th yet?’ Rebecca Allan, Facebook

‘What do I have to do to get parts 3 and 4 NOW?!’ Matt Kelland, Facebook

Tomorrow. Or just a few ticks after midnight, you can download episode 3, Like Ruby.

You can find episode 1 here, episode 2 here and you can try the first four chapters on a free audio here

 

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Rachmaninov and Ruin – episode 2 up tomorrow

Written like a poet, with the depth of a well-glazed canvas Terre Britton on Twitter

Damn you can write well!! Didn’t look up once on my hour-long bus ride home! Amanda Glass-Watson, Facebook

I ended up reading it through in one sitting and found myself wanting immediately to know what happened next upon reaching the end of the episode. Andrew Rollings, Amazon review

Roll on September 5 and Episode #2 Matt Kelland, Amazon review

It’s been a heady week, letting my book fend for itself in the wilds at long last. And not a little nail-biting. I can’t tell you how delighted I am by the postive vibes you’ve been sending me, in comments, tweets, blog mentions, emails and reviews. Thank you.

My idea to release the novel as four episodes attracted the attention of a publisher… because they’d been cooking up the same idea. We had a good laugh about great minds thinking alike and decided to celebrate with a joint post on their blog. My novel also had a spot on Dorothy Dreyer’s blog We Do Write, where she asked about my inspirations, what part of the writing was easiest and what was hardest.

So Episode 2, Rachmaninov and Ruin, is limbering up for release on Amazon at midnight tonight. You can find episode 1 here and you can try the first four chapters on a free audio here

Have fun, and wear your white gloves

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‘Brimming with ideas… a wonderful literary journey’

It’s early days yet for formal reviews, but My Memories of a Future Life Episode 1 is already getting a buzz.

 

‘Here’s a book we just love that’s brimming with ideas – a wonderful literary journey’ said Dan Holloway on Twitter. Dan went on to give me a whole post on eightcuts, his provocatively interesting lower-case blog where he champions ‘extraordinary literature

Here’s a selection of what you’ve been telling me around the ether:

I got 3/4 of the way through The Red Season last night. I’m enjoying the read, and looking forward to finishing it tonight. I’m hooked! Daniel Marvello, Nail Your Novel blog

Great read! Gene Lempp on Twitter 

Reading Roz’s book. Magnificent. There’s a reason Roz is the writing guru. Like watching Yoda whip out a light saber. Thank you for making literary fiction entertaining Kevin McGill on Twitter

Thank you also for your emails as you’re reading, your speculations and ‘well I nevers’, and a very special mention to the fellow who is documenting a strange and beguiling process of transformation…

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Three.. two… one… first episode is awake

Episode 1 – The Red Season – is now up and has its first review! ‘Groundbreaking fiction – expect the unexpected’, says writer, fiction editor, and author of The Art & Craft of Fiction, Victoria Mixon.

I’m not necessarily going to blog every single review – but this first one, which sends the book out on its maiden voyage, is very special. Thank you, Victoria.

 

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How I designed the cover

What did I want the cover to say? It had to embody the resonances of the story, set up a signature that was at once modern and classical, startling and beguiling, like the narrator’s deep love for her instrument.

A piano against a sky. But not just any old piano, a red one. A piano that screams blood, passion, hell even. It contains the very soul of the narrator, the thundering wonder of making glorious noise to express that you’re alive.

The sky I chose for souls in flight, The antithesis of what’s solid. Nebulous matters beyond our corporeality. A veil between us and outer space. Lying on your back on a warm day and gazing forever into your own imagination.

Or perhaps it’s just sky.

My Memories of a Future Life

Episode 1: The Red Season will be available on 30 August from the Kindle store.

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