Jagdlied is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a satire, drama, and erotica as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I began this project in 1991 with no intention other than to sketch out a salacious five- or six-page short story as a brief diversion from other more ambitious musical projects I was engaged in at the time. It grew into a twenty-page story, at which point I decided to set it aside as a “completed” work, even going so far as to affix an opus number to it in my otherwise (mostly) musical oeuvre. I moved on to other projects. When I returned to the story about eleven years later, I was dissatisfied with what I had written. I felt the characterizations were flat and the use of language too bland and conventional to suit my tastes, so I performed some deeper edits and revisions until the piece transmogrified into a novella of approximately 60 pages. Vaguely satisfied with what I had done, I set the text aside for another eight years or so and when I returned to it I thought it might need a few additional minor edits. Little did I know then that I would be embarking upon the creation of a 230,000-word magnum opus containing 290 graphic scores, an elaborate system by which musicians could extemporize against the text while it’s being narrated, as well as 108 Youtube links to performances of my musical compositions to enrich the piece even more. To answer your question: I never know in advance exactly how a work (whether literary or musical) will turn out. It happens, as you say, organically while it’s being created. I learn more and more about the characters of a novel as the situations and dialogues are interpolated into its structure. My own life experiences inform the transformation of a work’s gestalt to a certain degree. There are many creative people who plan their pieces meticulously in advance of writing anything down. Such an approach has seldom (if ever) been my mode of operation.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Thank you. My favorite, perhaps, is one of the more unmitigatedly evil characters in the novel: Chief Justice Dizzy O’Nance. He oversees a kangaroo court in the “Hall of Injustice,” where the questionable protagonist Melody is put on trial without any form of due process. He is a veritable Dr. Crucifer, Judge Holden, and Iago compounded into one.
This book was a collective effort between you, Dolly Gray Landon, and Lon Gaylord Dylan. What was the collaboration process like?
Were we actually three separate entities, the collaboration would have been a much happier one. I think your question tongue-in-cheekly references the anagrams I devised as the two separate pen names I employ for the author and illustrator (I go my own name as the composer). It is difficult to compartmentalize writing text, composing and performing music, drawing graphic scores, and even making original films of one-man performances of this piece. I am now very much in a temper to collaborate with other performers (perhaps a narrator other than yours truly) and a variety of instrumentalists. I enjoy participating as both narrator and pianist simultaneously but I don’t mind engaging (read: luxuriating) in only one of these roles. Pantomimists, dancers, and culinary artists are an extravagance that would require a massive budget. Intimate chamber groups of, say, three or four musicians, are far more practical.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I have another magnum opus that has been on and off the burners for upwards of 24 years. It is entitled Venge Art, and is, in certain respects, even more megalomaniacal than Jagdlied insomuch as the improvisational cues are interpolated within—as opposed to being separated from—the text, as are the conventionally notated scores, some of which require super-virtuosic skill on the part of their executants. I am hoping to return to Venge Art to revise and round it off some more. It is a text piece of approximately 300,000 words and 500 pages of notated music (including a 2-hour long string quartet that was my Harvard dissertation back in 1989). A book on my idiosyncratic harmonic method is also in the works. At this point in time, however, I am more interested in tying up some loose ends: various chamber works awaiting completion, a couple of plays in verse, and numerous other projects. It is, unfortunately, impossible for me to give you a precise timeline.
Jagdlied officially goes on sale August 30th, 2018 and will become available in several printed versions. One should be able to pre-order it by August 15th, if not sooner.
This musically and graphically enriched chamber novel is an over-the-top black and blue comic extravaganza about the conspiratorial undoing of a teenage entitlement princess. The story throbs throughout with an undercurrent of apocalyptic motifs related to the extinction of art, fall of empire, and coming of the Antichrist. It is an epic farce that reads like an erotically supercharged psychological suspense thriller. The narrative takes the reader/audient on a veritable boomerang roller-coaster ride (with multiple inversions) through a reputational strip-and-whiptease of the novel’s malignantly artful (albeit ingenuously doe-eyed) protagonist: a wealthy young heiress and socialite who boasts an exclusive claim to her progenitors’ munificent estate. Her inheritance comprises an immense fortune amassed through shareholder investments in the world’s largest employment recruiter: the multi-national temp agency behemoth known as the Pleasant Peasant Corporation.
The character-driven narrative of Jagdlied explores themes of jilted love, misinterpreted motives, paranoid ideations, bombastic egos, ghoulish envy, smoldering jealousy, unconscionable revenge ploys, extravagant public humiliations, ruthless power games, insatiable greed, pernicious corruption, feigned moral outrage from all sides, and even (Heaven forfend!) coldblooded murder—all the type of stuff pre-calculated to magnetize your run-of-the-thrill-seeking bookworms and bibliophiles.
A rich repository of tongue-in-cheek nonce words, malapropisms, neologisms, archaisms, spoonerisms, slanguage, and whole swaths of unintelligible nonsense, the text of Jagdlied is also replete with irreverently lurid, salacious, and scatologic elements, which serve to set it in motion as a formidable contender for the distinctive cachet of being regarded (by cultivated aesthetes of omnifarious persuasions) as a momentously serious dirty book. It is targeted towards percipient readers and audients in possession of a well-seasoned sick and—dare it be said—cruel batch of funny bones inflected with a gallows-cum-smoking-room bent.
Whilst the plot of this story (grotesquely absurd as it will undoubtedly be esteemed) embraces reflexively cringeworthy sadomasochistic motifs, its author would hesitate to instyle it as porn, yet he would not be wholly disinclined to characterize it as a farcical parody thereof. And whilst at the same time its author is admittedly predisposed to eschew ascribing labels of any kind to this opus (especially seeing as what he has concocted is so rarefied in its formal structure that it cannot be facilely pigeonholed), it may not be altogether off the mark to view it as a form of literary neurotica (if, indeed, there is such a genre) as opposed to the more boilerplate literotica—or what in sex nazi circles is dysphemistically adverted to (in no uncertain squirms) as “filth.”
Whilst the text of Jagdlied may be read in silence as a novel in the traditional sense, it is ultimately written for the purpose of being recited by a skilled elocutionist to the accompaniment of extemporized music by ad hoc variable ensembles in relatively brief, self-contained or—depending on how one looks at it—semi self-contained episodes with the aid of a do-it-yourself improvisation kit provided in its appendix. This “kit” is likenable to a Baroque-style table of ornaments, albeit comprehending specific sets of chance operations for each and every participant involved in renditions of individual fascicles of this work. Aside from entailing a professional narrator and musical extemporizers, the score discretionarily calls for pantomime actors, dancers (hence choreographers), set designers, culinary artists, and even members of the audience itself.
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Book of Matthew Part I is a tale of forbidden love in rural Missouri in 1850 which was a tumultuous time in the U.S. What was the inspiration that inspired the setup to this intriguing novel?
It all began with a conversation. I had just started dating the man who is now my husband and we were still getting to know one another. He asked if I would vote in the upcoming election and I replied, “of course I will. My ancestors fought and died to give me the right to. Without their sacrifices I wouldn’t be able to vote, own property, read, let alone attend my university. I wouldn’t even be able to date you.” After that conversation I started to wonder how difficult it would have been to have an interracial relationship centuries ago and my first book was born.
I have always been a lover of suspense, mystery and horror so I decided to write in these genres. My goal was to create a Jack the Ripper sort of villain, while maintaining the drama, romance and personal conflicts that make characters relatable and memorable.
While growing up I noticed a double standard in regard to history. If you were white and you wanted to trace your lineage back to the Mayflower this was perfectly acceptable. People were intrigued to hear your family’s history and they encouraged and praised your vast knowledge of a bygone era… but if you were black you were often discouraged from learning anything about your ancestry. I was told things like, “Black people need to leave the plantation,” and “Black people live in the past and need to just forget things.” Yearning to educate myself about the past is not the same as living in it. I didn’t desire someone to blame or scapegoat, all I wanted was the same answers that other races of children were encouraged to seek out.
When I received correspondence from readers in England, France, Ireland and several countries in Africa they applauded my stories and said, “Wow! This was a fascinating look at American history.” Not Black history, nor African American history. Other countries acknowledge this topic as American history because that’s exactly what it is. When I am criticized for this subject matter my response remains the same,
I don’t write racist literature. Nor do I write black history. I write American history.
The book touches on sensitive social topics rarely discussed, slavery and the dynamic between master and slave. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
The main theme I wanted to capture was that every form of this institution was morally reprehensible. When I grew up in school most of my teachers refused to teach this subject whatsoever. We would skip over huge chunks of our textbooks just to avoid it. The few who did teach about it romanticized the hell out of it, and made it seem acceptable because “most slaves were like part of the family” …I actually heard this more than once. What I desired to express in this story was that even if you were a house slave who was treated better than others and much like part of the family, merely being owned endangered your life because someone has diminished your social standing from that of a human being to that of a piece of property. This fact alone placed even the best treated of slaves at risk for kidnapping, rape and murder with no law enforcement to save them.
Second, I wanted to make it known that when some of us are slaves, we all are. Destitute white men, minorities and women of all colors were treated as second class citizens because of that system of inequality.
Third, I wanted to acknowledge all the people who were adamantly opposed to slavery and fought against it at every turn. 400 years of Americans are blamed and villainized for what some people did. Though slavery was socially acceptable, not everyone agrees with 100% of what is socially acceptable. Disagreeing with social norms is what makes us individuals. Fighting against corrupt social norms is what makes us heroes. The people who stood against these heinous acts are rarely recognized, but without them our society would’ve failed to evolve.
Sarah is a slave that is targeted by a serial killer that murders with impunity. What were the driving ideals behind Sarah’s character development?
The driving force behind Sarah’s character development was the total lack thereof I have witnessed in similar stories. In many of the plantation novels I have read the slaves are faceless one-dimensional victims who serve as little more than background for white main characters. The female slave characters were poorly developed and served as little more than objects of lust incapable of inspiring true feelings of love and affection. Reading a plantation novel with no black main characters is like reading Memoirs of a Geisha with no geisha. These stories failed to capture my attention and I found the characters unrealistic and totally unrelatable. When I wrote a book I was determined to make sure there were black main characters as well as white ones, and that ALL of my characters have depth and unique personalities. I wanted Sarah’s character to have hopes, dreams, ambitions, drama and romantic conflicts of her own. I yearned to put a human face on a slave character, an aspect rarely seen in books of this nature. Though there have been many forbidden lust stories in this genre I wanted to give Sarah an against all odds forbidden love story readers wouldn’t soon forget.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Revelations: The Colburn Curse is a prequel to Book of Matthew that traces the Colburn family back to their beginnings in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this story Matt Colburn Sr. is a young plantation heir who has been given the duty of protecting an aristocrat named, Arial. He falls madly in love with the elusive heiress, but she is hiding a deadly secret that has made her the target of the Louisiana Strangler, a secret that endangers everyone she holds dear, especially Matt. This book is already available for purchase on amazon.com.
The Infinity series is based on the many star crossed lifetimes of Sarah and Matthew. I wrote this series for readers who enjoy historical suspense but prefer a tale with less violence and adult content. Three of the ten books are already available on amazon.com.
Book of Matthew II: Ancient Evil will be released December 2018.
Women of color are not a priority of law enforcement in 1800’s Missouri. They are not even considered human. These social injustices allow a serial killer to run rampant. Sarah, a beautiful black slave, finds herself in the crosshairs of a monster who murders with impunity. The only one concerned with her plight is the master’s son. Will Matthew find the strength to rescue this slave girl, even if he lacks the courage to admit he’s in love with her…
It’s Jack the Ripper meets Roots in this pulse pounding historical thriller. House of Whispers packs the chills of a Stephen King book, the romance of a Nicholas Sparks novel and the in your face irony of an M. Night Shyamalan flic.
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Redemption: The Advent is a fantastic sci-fi-thriller set during present day where a police investigator becomes host to an ethereal being from a parallel universe. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
As a civil engineer with a master’s degree from a Canadian university, my career required me to travel and live in a number of countries among people with diverse cultural backgrounds. These differences often resulted in violent confrontations with grave injustices inflicted by opposing ideologies. At the same time our world is currently inflicted with two devastating plagues, the proliferation of drugs and religious radicalization.
The book tackles these topics by describing two contemporary adventures, interlaced with superhuman moral guidance. In so doing I wanted to demonstrate the vanity of materialism and the virtue of harmony and peace which can only be achieved through empathy and understanding.
The Valdorians have watched Earth and deemed humanity too far gone to achieve spiritual evolution. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating the Valdorian race?
Although I adhere to no specific philosophy my deepest convictions indicate that there must me a superior intelligence underlying the whole of creation. The nature of this intelligence is unknowable. What is evident however is that harmony and understanding will bring peace to the world. This is the only credible behavior that will result in unity with each other and ultimately our creator.
James Baxter becomes host to a Valdor which leads to some very interesting conversations and confrontations. What was your approach to writing the interactions between characters?
In a world where science and technology are advancing at breakneck speeds and greed appears to be the main driving force in human affairs, the spiritual meaning of the old systems that govern us is becoming increasingly blurred.
By imagining a race of beings that are immortal, it necessitates a different viewpoint to morality and the reason for existence. By the interactions outlined in the book some of our religious myths are intermingled and questioned. The interaction provides food for thought that will resonate with anyone who has ever pondered on the mysteries of creation.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
“Redemption the Journey” – Sequel to “Redemption the Advent” – It will elaborate on the trials and tribulations resulting from the Valdor intervention, as they attempt to create a Utopia on Earth.
I have already planned the basic outline of the novel but will only complete the narrative once the first novel proves popular.
Two beings. One Body. And a critical mission to save the world. The Valdors, ethereal beings from a parallel dimension, have guarded the development of consciousness since the beginning of time. Humanity’s greed and fanaticism have derailed progression towards spiritual evolution, and the Valdor Council has earmarked Sol III (Earth) for annihilation. In one final effort, Balthazar is sent to Earth to redeem Humanity. When Bal connects with the mind of James Baxter, a seasoned police investigator, he must convince him to assist with his mission. Bal and Baxter have to share the same body. Using human effort and Valdor mental power, they combat a drug lord who has hijacked a mind-controlling microchip, and an Islamic extremist who plans to rule the world. Embarking on an adventure of intrigue and ruthlessness, Bal and Baxter’s journey exposes the weaknesses and triumphs of the human character as they struggle for Humanity’s redemption.
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