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Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative process – perhaps to tap into a character, populate a mysterious place, or explore the depths in a pivotal moment. This week’s post is by novelist, short story writer, essayist and small press editor Bryan Furuness @furunati
Soundtrack by Rainymood.com
I’ve never been good at focusing. The smallest sound can break my concentration, but absolute silence can lull me into a daydream—which is cool, but not so great if I actually want to get anything done. But if I listen to the right sound, it can provide a shield against distractions, while keeping me from spacing out.
Most days the sound is the sound of rain. It’s the white noise of nature, an audio curtain you can draw around yourself to block out the world. Rainymood.com plays a looping track that is about 30 minutes long. At one point, a dog barks twice in the distance. Later, a train goes by. Then it all hushes, just for a moment, before starting over.
Carry me back
Day after day, the rainstorm brought me back to the world of the novel. It’s a kind of anaphora, which comes from the Greek term of anapherein, meaning to carry back. The writing process is another kind of anaphora: you revisit the same story or poem or essay over and over, again and again, with patience and focus and persistence.
The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson took about eight years to write, or approximately 8,000 rainstorms. The book’s about a precocious and dreamy boy who’s decided that he’s the second coming of Christ. His mother, an inventive storyteller, likes to tell him made-up Bible stories, which she claims are ‘lost episodes’, or outtakes from the King James version. Wild as prophecy and seemingly just as coded, these charming and dangerous tales feature steel mills, cars, and transistor radios, among other artifacts not generally associated with life at the beginning of Anno Domini. Faith can be fickle, though, and Revie’s belief in God and his family is shaken when his mother leaves home to pursue her dreams of stardom in Hollywood. Over the course of a year, one family and one boy must learn to sacrifice and forgive in order to be born again.
The book has no storms, but there it is again: anaphora. Second comings, resurrections, homecomings, retrospective narration, and listening to the same storm over and over are all built on the same pattern, the one called carry me back.
Maybe that’s the obsession that underpins all my other obsessions. I’m thinking now about a scene from the middle of the book, when a character named Pastor Mike tells Revie that God built the universe on a circular track. ‘Everything orbits,’ he tells the boy. ‘Including you.’
Including me, too. Including all of us.
Bryan Furuness is the author of the novel, The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson. His fiction has appeared in Ninth Letter, Southeast Review, Hobart, and elsewhere, including New Stories from the Midwest and Best American Nonrequired Reading. He teaches at Butler University, where he serves as the Editor in Chief for the small press, Pressgang. Find him on Facebook and on Twitter as @furunati
GIVEAWAY Bryan is giving away 2 paperback copies of The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson to commenters here. Extra entries if you share the post on Twitter, Facebook or other platforms – but remember to note in your comment here that you have! He also asks that if you happen to win, he’d be extremely grateful for a review on Amazon or Goodreads – favourable or otherwise.
Also, don’t forget that there’s a giveaway on the Nail Your Novel site as well… to celebrate a new cover.
absolute silence, anaphora, authors, Bryan Furuness, Butler University, contemporary fiction, Desert Island Discs, drama, entertainment, Hobart, literary fiction, literary novels, male writers, miriam berkley, music, music for writers, music for writing, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel, nature sounds, Ninth Letter, playlist for writers, Pressgang, Rainymood.com, Roz Morris, second coming of christ, sound of rain, sounds of rain, sounds of storms, Southeast Review, The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson, The Undercover Soundtrack, transistor radios, undercover soundtrack, writers, writing, writing to music
- The Undercover Soundtrack is a series where writers - and occasionally other arty folk - reveal how music shapes their work.
- It began as a companion to my first novel, My Memories of a Future Life, and now thrives as a creative salon in its own right. Pull on your headphones and join us.
- If you're curious about the novel that started it all, click the image below.
Kobo featured book, London Book Fair 2013
Seal of Excellence for Outstanding Independent Fiction, Awesome Indies 2013
Underground Book Reviews Top Summer Read 2012
League of Extraordinary Authors Top 10 Indie Elite 2012
Multi-Story Pick of the Month March and October 2012
Alliance of Independent Authors Book of the Month, January 2013
Email merozmorriswriter at gmail dot com
- All content copyright Roz Morris 2011-2020. Nothing may be reproduced without my express permission in writing beforehand. Photography: Bonnie Schupp Photography, gcg2009 and Roz Morris
What is The Undercover Soundtrack?Sleeve notes here
For the soundtrack of My Memories of a Future Life, you'll need Chopin's Sonata in B Minor, Rachmaninov preludes, lashings of Grieg's piano concerto in A minor and The Clash's Rock the Kasbah (they go together well).
You'll also need Samuel Barber's Dover Beach on piano, although that doesn't actually exist so do the best you can.
And the novel's undercover pieces. You can find them here
- What's on their soundtracks? Zip down to the footer and you can search by artiste or composer. See who shares your taste in inspirational music
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- 'My Memories of a Future Life is a poignant story steeped with melancholy, edged with a desperate hope, and twisted throughout with darkness and humor'
- 'Some of the sharpest writing I've read in a long while'
- 'The feel of a modern-day witch trial with a tense romance'
- 'Clever when you think about it afterwards; haunting and engrossing while you're reading'