Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Interview: Gene Doucette

I really, really want a copy of Gene Doucette's Immortal. Sadly, Christmas is coming, If I buy myself a book right now, I could be messing someone's Christmas present to me. I'm trying very hard to be patient, but the minute the presents are open Christmas morning, if I don't have a copy of Immortal I'm heading to the computer to get myself the ebook version.Immortal

Honestly, it's Doucette's writing, more than the plot description that make me want to read this book. Immortal is about Adam (the narrator) a man who is 60,000 years old (but, luckily for him, looks like he's in his early thirties.) That was interesting enough to make me look into the book more, but it was Adam's tweets and a sample chapter that hooked me.

Many of the reviews I've read about Immortal say that Adam sounds like someone they'd like to be friends with. I have to agree. There's also a good amount of humor, and I am very much in favor of books that can make me laugh.

Some quotes from Immortal and Adam's Twitter feed:
I’ve been in quite a few tight situations in my long life. One of the first things I learned was if there’s going to be a mob panic, don’t be standing between the mob and wherever it is they all want to go. The second thing I learned was, don’t try to run through fire.

I’m not a huge fan of deserts. They’re hell for my memory, for one thing, because I’m just old enough to remember when a couple of the smaller ones were bodies of water. And there’s really nothing more upsetting than to think you’re about to come up on a nice cool lake only to discover that the beach has taken over the place.

Wisdom of the day: If you want to know what's in another man's heart, the answer is: blood. What were you looking for?

2day's Wisdom: post hoc interpretation of randomness used to be what the gods were for. Now it's a skill mainly employed at slot machines. 
Not only do we get to hear from Gene Doucette in this interview, Adam shows up to share his views on music with us!

In a recent blog post, you mention listening to (among others) Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and The White Stripes. Do you have a favorite group or artist?

I pretty much love anything Jack White gets his hands on: The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather.  I'm also growing fond of The Mountain Goats and have begun sticking my toes in Amanda Palmer's oeuvre.  Then there's Lily Allen, who I love, and A Fine Frenzy, and The Ting Tings.  And Queens of the Stone Age, can't forget them.  And the classics, like Floyd, and also pre- 80's Genesis, plus Springsteen, Prince, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Dylan.  And the 90's favorites like Pearl Jam and Nirvana, and Alanis, and of course Radiohead, and Wilco.  And... I could go on, but pretty soon I'll just be reading off bands from my iTunes library and this could get boring.

I don't have a favorite, per se.  I set up a playlist on my iPod with about 2000 songs on it and set it to shuffle; it's like having my own personal radio station.

Does the music you listen to influence your writing, or do you find that it drives the muse away? Do you listen to different music when you are writing than what you listen to at other times?

I don't think I can cite a direct influence, although when I was a playwright I used to listen to a lot of albums that had little in the way of lyrics.  (The one I remember replaying a lot was Traffic's "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys". ) The reason for the music then was that I needed to develop an understanding of rhythm within dialogue.  Plays are (of course) all dialogue, and you have to hear that beat to get the words right.  Having music playing while I did that was helpful.

Nowadays I don't listen to music while writing; I find I spend more time with the lyrics in my head than I do with the words I'm trying to put down.  But if you're starting out I highly recommend listening while writing.  As I said, dialogue is about rhythm, and until you get enough experience to hear the beat without help you should steal that beat from somewhere else.

In the same blog post mentioned above, you talk about the importance you place on keeping current in your musical tastes. Where do you like to go to find new music?

I am terrible about actively seeking new music, but fortunately I have children. Both are in college now but before I sent them off I interested them in what I like to listen to, so now they come back to me with music they've found that I might like. It's a musical taste retirement plan, and it's working surprisingly well.

Your book, Immortal, is about a man who has lived thousands of years. is there any music that you associate with him, or with Immortal?

The only association I have has to do with "My Immortal", by Evanescence, and it has less to do with Adam's character than with the novel itself.  I've been living with this novel for six years-- from the time I finished the first draft to the publication this year-- and every time I heard that song (up until now) it made me sad because it reminded me I hadn't gotten the damn thing published.  It's depressing sitting on what amounts to the best work of your career for that long, let me just say.

What does Adam, your character from Immortal think about music and the ways it has changed over human history?

I'm turning this answer over to Adam.

Adam: My introduction to new musical sounds is always greeted with the following declaration: "Oh [current god]! What is that horrible noise!" It doesn't matter how lovely that music ends up being, to my ears, later: new rhythms, innovations, and instruments are always discordant and jarring the first time around. Understand, though, that the first thing I ever heard that I could call music was rhythmic drum beating, and that was perfectly good for a very long time, up until someone came up with a crude woodwind and complicated the hell out of everything.

Rhythmic drumming with a minimum of syncopation holds a base appeal for me that will never go away, largely because I associate this sound with celebration and sex. (Arrhythmic drumming, on the other hand, makes me nervous. When I hear that I start looking around for predators.) But as tribes grew into fixed societies and farming abetted idleness and culture, music grew correspondingly complex, and I learned to appreciate each innovation... eventually.

When assimilating myself with a local community, music appreciation is generally the most difficult part of the process. Imagine, as an American, listening to half an hour of Pakistani rock while on a taxi ride. Now multiply that experience by a lifetime. You may eventually learn to love Pakistani music, but it will not happen quickly.

Fortunately, this is the "information age". (I think. Are we still calling it that?) Music is not nearly as self-contained as it once was, just as society world-wide is becoming increasingly homogenous. I'm entirely in favor of this, because it means my traveling around requires far less concentration, which leaves me more time to drink.

Oh, and I find this Lady Gaga fascinating. Even though it looks as if a strong wind might kill her.

Can you tell us a little about other projects you are working on?

I'm busy right now putting together a package of film treatments for a series for Fireside Films.  I can't go into great detail, but I will say they are historical ghost stories, and they are a lot of fun.  I've already finished one of the scripts and shooting should begin sometime in 2011.

I am also putting the finishing touches on the second novel in the series, Hellenic Immortal, and doing research so I can begin the third book.

Anything else we should know?

Buy Immortal! It's narrated by Adam, who you just heard from. It's a sci-fi / fantasy / adventure / historical fiction / urban fantasy / thriller / humor book that I can almost guarantee you'll be unable to put down.

Read more about Immortal at http://genedoucette.me/immortal

It's on sale at Amazon right now, and ebook versions are available at both Amazon and Smashwords.


Toni Wi said...

cool bananas. I was hooked when I saw he has pretty much the same musical tastes as me :)

Adam sounds like an interesting character. And Immortal sounds like something I'd want to read!

Great post lol

Jaleh D said...

I'd never heard of Gene or Immortal, but I'm totally hooked now. Adam sounds like a neat guy and fun to travel with. I'll be looking for that book after Christmas.


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