Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Sensual Novel of Music, Passion, Secrets and Self-Deception

Gritty New Literary Novel Pays Homage to 80s Chicago Music Scene
Author W. Lance Hunt releases debut novel of love, loss, ambition, and self-revelation while providing nuanced look at youthful striving

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The late 80s Chicago Goth-Industrial scene was an experience author W. Lance Hunt will not soon forget. As a former roadie, with a background in theatre, film, and television, Hunt was immersed in the music scene of the era. Now, as a professional writer, he has transposed many of his own experiences into the characters and events found in his debut novel, “A Perfect Blindness – A Sensual Novel of Music, Passion, Secrets and Self-Deception.”

A compelling literary novel for the senses, “A Perfect Blindness” follows the interweaving stories of two best friends and the lover of one as they stumble towards self-understanding they can only have when they finally realize that “Who we really are hangs someplace between all the stories, suspended in the contradictions.” Set in late 80s Chicago, the novel pays homage to the Goth-Industrial scene with visits to the bars, clubs, and music venues of that era while a tale of love, loss, friendship, failure, success and even death plays out for the reader as experienced by each of the three protagonists who reveal that self-deception is the most treacherous lie of all.

An iUniverse Rising Star, Hunt is already receiving critical praises from reviewers:

“An expansive historical novel that ably evokes its time and place. Hunt writes in a dense, passionate prose that strives to enliven everything it touches.” – Kirkus Review

“Littered with cigarette butts, vodka bottles, and a dead body, A Perfect Blindness is a grunge rock fantasy. With its operatic sense of drama, it is an escape story ideal for those who still live out their rock star dreams whenever they close their eyes.” – Clarion Review

Music plays a key role in the novel with references to many 80s era bands, such as Joy Division, and mentions of specific songs throughout the story. Hunt also provides a playlist of songs he encourages readers to listen to while reading the book to create a more immersive experience, which can be found at The Sounds of A Perfect Blindness.


“A Perfect Blindness – A Sensual Novel of Music, Passion, Secrets and Self-Deception”
By W. Lance Hunt
ISBN: 978-1-5320-1012-5 (softcover); 978-1-5320-1013-2 (ebook)
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iBooks

About the author
W. Lance Hunt earned concurrent bachelor’s degrees from Ohio State University, cofounded the Rudely Elegant Theatre in Chicago, and helped produce an Emmy Award-winning film. After living in Mexico City, he moved to New York City, where he earned a Master of Arts in English from CCNY. Hunt works as a freelance writer and editor and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. To learn more please visit WLanceHunt.com






Interview

Q:
Welcome to my blog Lance. Please tell us about your latest worktitle, genre, etc. — and why you wrote it?
A:
The title is A Perfect Blindness chosen because it speaks to both the core idea—that we don’t see people, including ourselves, clearly and sometimes we’re willfully blind. It's also a reference to a line from Joy Division's song "Isolation": "a blindness that touches perfection." This connects  the title with the world in which the characters live: the late 80s alternative, club scene as they try to make it with their band Mercurial Visions. Further  Joy Division’s biggest hit “Love Will Tear Us Apart” hints at the enormous role lovers, both present, and past, play in the lives of each of the three protagonists (two best friends who found the band and the lover of one). 

It’s literary fiction by dint of not being any other genre. That  and its dialogue with Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet and Mailer’s Armies of the Night, as well as the music that pervades it, especially the way lyrics appear in the text, as lines directly quoted, and adapted through character’s thoughts and dialogue.

Structurally, the book adapts the idea Durrell used of passing a single story through more than one first-person view as well as though a third person point of view. These different narratives clash, causing events to appear different. Not as in the movie  Rashomon in which what happens changes depending on the point of view—rather, only the why things happened changes, meanings alter and even the dead are transformed. 
From Mailer, it took the idea of using newspaper articles as a removed third person point of view to contrast with what each character believes. 
There is also a splash of Nabokov’s Lolita here and there, in descriptive snatches.

The book interacts profoundly with music: bands, albums, CDs, lyrics, with the milieu full of songs playing on the radio, on the dance floor, in bars and at parties, mostly alternative/electro-industrial, with a dollop of popular—and mainly from the late 80s. The time I lived in Chicago. The music that filled the soundtrack of my life there.

On a basic level, writing A Perfect Blindness gave me a way to pour my experiences in live and recorded music, in live theater production, and in film and video production and post-production into fiction. After running sound and lights, and roadying for a band in Columbus, Ohio, I moved to Chicago in 1988, not long after graduating from The Ohio State University. There, I helped build out the Rudely Elegant Theater, where I co-wrote Barbie the Fantasies, and produced live theater, and ran lights and sound for various productions. Then, I worked in video, film, and music production and post-production.

Beyond giving me a canvas on which to use my experiences, the long form of a novel allowed me to explore the nature of identity. A part of that idea is exposing how we deceive ourselves through the stories we tell ourselves about the world around us and most importantly about ourselves. Further, it allowed me to probe how we can love and be friends and create anything when the stories we each tell ourselves contradict the stories other people tell themselves.

Finally, the novel gave me a platform to create an homage to the music and club scene of Chicago in the late eighties and early nineties, when I lived and dance there.
Q:
What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A:
That literary effects can be affected without trickery, naturally through shifts in POV and revelations in knowledge; Durrell blew me away with the Alexandria Quartet doing just that. I also enjoy the play between text and character—being able to use different styles of writing in a single work . In the case of A Perfect Blindness, three different, one for each of the three POV character:
·         Scott is ruled by power—he fixates on who is in control. The world is blunt and straightforward for him, and so are his sentences and word choices. He’s utterly focused on outcomes.
·         Poetry and Passion rule Jonathan, and he sees the poetic, erotic and passionate in everything around him. His sentences are longer, full of rhythm, alteration, parallel structures, a more fanciful vocabulary. Overall, the highest register of the three.
·         Pop culture rules Jennifer's world, and she thinks in similes and metaphors based on pop culture references and sees her life as if it were a TV show or magazine spread. Her sentences are not as elaborate as Jonathan's nor as blunt as Scott's and are larded with comparisons to TV shows, movies, advertising, and fashion. 
By living inside the head of each character as the world erupts in their mind, the contrast between the three worlds each one occupies grows; it is then that much more amazing that they
can build anything together. 


Q:
What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A:
It’s changed, in some part in reaction to publishing this book as well as learning more about what I’d like to read. For A Perfect Blindness, which is the 4th title, each marking a complete rewrite, I'd initially started with a sketch of a scene in mind and simply ran with it. I had some basic ideas of what I wanted to say and do, and let characters and scenes pop up as they would and followed them wherever they took me. I’d read this was ‘the best way,' and it felt right.

When I finally got around to preparing it for publication, I’d cut some 80,000 words between all the rewrites. (Yes, eighty-thousand.)Then, during the editing for iUniverse, I cut another 20,000 words: 100 k words of unused text. I know I can recycle some of it, even use it as “DVD extras” for marketing the book, but that’s still a lot of work gone.
Q:
What kind of research was involved?
A:
Mostly verification of what I thought I already knew. I started writing this in 1996 and had very fresh memories of the places, bands, songs, production techniques and whatnot. When I was getting this ready to publish in 2015, I had to double check many facts and lyrics, and the dates to make sure I avoided anachronisms—A song playing in the background that didn't come out until five years later sort of thing. 
Since I’m not a musician, I had to dive into musical equipment to make sure I used the right terms. I roadied for a band, so I knew a lot, but I didn’t live and breathe it. Especially the newer equipment like sequencers, electronic drums and the like, which the band I’d worked for didn’t use.
Q:
How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A:
In the first draft, there was a lot me. I’d been plumbing myself and my decisions, but then I realized, I’m the only person who could possibly care about this. So, I excised most of myself. Sure, the plot moves around some events that happened in my life, at least loosely. The year I moved to Chicago, living in a loft in Wicker Park, that I was involved with creative endeavors (theater[, TV, film vs. a band), and a break up with a lover who called after a couple of years of silence. 
But the current character(s) left me behind to do things I couldn’t do. That I wouldn’t have.That anyone I had know back then would or could have.
The plot is much stronger for that, and the characters far more interesting.
Some of my attitudes still seep in of course. A number of my opinions are on display here, but neither Jonathan nor Scott is me. In the first draft, I modeled Jonathan primarily on myself, but  he wasn’t that interesting, and he refused do what was needed to make the story interesting. So, I exorcised myself and recast him. Still gave him my long hair ( now long gone), and skinny legs.
Q:
How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A:
Imperfectly. I have a multipage to-do list in Evernote, and each week I add a daily task in Mac reminders: 
Writing 1 hr (daily).
It's hard to block off that whole period most days, so I keep a timer open, starting and stopping until I accumulate a minimum of 60 minutes. I usually get at least 15 minutes in each go. I frequently get up earlier than the rest of the house, so those days I often get a chunk done before I have to start paying attention to the rest of life (half-hour, sometimes 45 minutes). During the week, I can usually get the rest of hour done in between my work project, but if not, I try to work it in around dinner and family in the evening. Because I’m marketing A Perfect Blindness now rather than writing it, I spent much of that hour on blogs or marketing text or website work. Not nearly as fun as fiction, but something I MUST do.
Still, to keep my fiction muscles exercised, I try to get in some work on my next project every day—I add this task: 
1  Page (daily)
to Mac reminders. It means 1 page of new text or at least 15 minutes of research and planning.
And yes, this does count towards the 1 hour of total writing but forces me to have some fun
I try to push the total time to 1.25 hours a day, but that certainly doesn’t happen every day.
If I miss a day, even in part, it stays in Mac reminders, and I force myself to make it up, no matter how long it takes. For example, two weeks ago, I had a so-so week. On Friday, I had three  reminders with the number of minutes  I'd been able to work replacing "daily" inside  the ( ) to remind me that I only did 37 minutes Monday: "Writing 1 hr (+37)".   14 Wednesday "Writing 1  hr (+14)", and 50  on Thursday "Writing 1 hr (+50)". This adds up to 79 minutes of writing to make up , which may take me weeks if I'm busy. But I put the time in. Always. The same for the 1 Page (daily). At one time last month, I had nine days of that to make up (2 hours, 15 minutes). Retired that time debt two weeks ago.
Q:
Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A:
Other than Nabokov and Durrell mentioned above as appearing in A Perfect Blindness, there is Salman Rushdie and unconsciously, Hemingway—I’ve had some of my writing compared with his, though I never consciously channeled his style. Finally, D. H. Lawrence—his skills at “eroticizing the landscape”— making a scene feel as if it were something else, not necessarily erotic, but imbuing what is happening with another layer of feeling, hence meaning. 
Q:
Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
A:
Not so much a story, but a couple of related ideas, and a moment in time and place.
For A Perfect Blindness, the idea is the contrast between the I of the subjective first-person narrative and the he or she of the objective third-person narrative: how they don’t agree, yet somehow, we can still create things together.
The Place and Time is the late 80s early 90s of Chicago, which was a very important in my life and I wanted that to come alive to the point it feels real.
For all my stories, they are about taking ideas and putting them into motion: meaning that if this or that were true, what would happen? What would it look and feel like?
In A Perfect Blindness: if what we believe about ourselves isn’t the same as what other people believe about us, what happens when we try to create something with other people? What happens if we refuse to believe some central truth of who we are—what does that look like?

Q:
What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A:
Well, several, really.
The one I’m putting time into right now is Solitude of the Knight, my old Master’s Thesis. I’m reviewing it with everything I’ve learned from rewriting A Perfect Blindness. I’ve always suspected I was missing things, but now I have a much clearer idea of what they are, and what I must do to fix it. 
Actual rewriting is some else entirely. It’s an odd beast, as it works far better when it’s listened to than it does when it’s read. I didn’t know that when I wrote it, but when I’d given friends sections of it to read, the reception was warmish to cool.
Probably biting off more than I can chew for right now. But Solitude is in the works right now—I'm rereading it, and taking notes on what I need to fix, and how best to take advantage of what I already have.  
Q:
Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A:
1)      Since fewer than 1% of all published books end up in bookstores, you will need to work Social Media. Period.
2)      Online, you need a base, a few reviews, likes, followers before strangers will take you seriously. Very few people want to be the first person to buy an unknown author.
3)      So, you first need to go after your tribe: your friends, family, and followers to get a few mentions, ratings, likes up: that's called social proof.
4)      To do this, you need a platform, and you need to use it.
5)      A platform is a way of reaching people.
6)      A first that means asking people you know to lend a hand. Calling, emailing, asking on FaceBook, setting up a group or page, inviting them to join—however you talk to your people. 
7)      Star simple, such as asking friends and family to share your posts about it, re-tweet items, and if your close enough, have them read the book and post reviews, and most of the time, when I’ve reached out to people I knew, they’ve been helpful.
8)      Giving books away to a first few folks on the condition of them giving an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads is a good investment.
9)      Don’t try to be a pro. What I mean by that is reading every book and article you can on marketing and branding and using social media, and then trying to use all that is akin to be a full-time Social Media jockey. A lot of these tools, books, and articles are aimed at actual social media pros: people who do it full time. Tons of excellent sounding ideas  will swamp you with learning curves, and the number of things you want to do spreads you too thin, and you’ll end up getting next to nothing done, but working very hard at that.
10)  Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll be marketing your work for a long time after it comes out. Start with what you know and expand as you can. I’ve seen Stephen King and Umberto Eco on book tours selling their books.
11)  Watch pricing—a big book like A Perfect Blindness published via print on demand is expensive. Had I to do this over again, I'd likely have split it into two books. To make each half cheap enough for someone’s temptation to overcome dubiety and get them to push the buy button; that and kept the e-book price down to the level of an impulse buy, but not too cheap for 434 pages to make it seem like trash. I priced it high because I was going to discount it to make the prices I wanted to look like a deal, but that’s much harder to do than I expected. Especially on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks each of which gives discounting advantage to books published on their platforms. Recently, I heard from an industry person that most writers make under a dollar a copy, so when you’re starting out, think much less than a buck a copy. After all—WHO ARE YOU to ask so much for a book? 
12)  Don’t count on social media as a sales platform. They are good at tempting people to visit your site, to find out more, or to give you their email address if they get something useful in return. Once they are on your site, or on an email list, you can give them more information and even more freebies to introduce them to your writing. Once they like your writing, then you can sell it to them. Bottom line: Give them interesting stuff; if they like your writing, they will be open to forking over $ for your work. Cold sales are hard.
Q:
What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
A:
1.      “write what you know” is overrated: write what you want to read. You’ll access what you know of the world as you build your fictional world. Might sound like a contradiction since I’m recreating a time and place, and using all my knowledge of production, post production, and live performance, but I want to read stories about times and places I’ve lived. I want to read a story that walks down the same streets and halls I walked. A story that dives into identity, that strives for literary effects, that drips with reality and passion. So the world into which I set these ideas in motion is a world I know. But it’s not merely what I know. It’s what I enjoy reading.
2.      Know that a first draft, really any draft, is plastic: That all writing is really rewriting.
3.      Be open to criticism. When my first editor came back with notes, I'd found that I'd failed with two of the three character storylines. As in utterly. I knew what I had intended, but that was not what was on the page. Readers can't read what you meant to write—they can read what you actually wrote. Be attentive to that. Even if you don’t do what a reader or editor recommends, realize there is an issue because and that other readers are likely to react similarly. It’s a heads up there is something to work on. 
4.      Keep the reader in mind. What is fun and fascinating for you won't necessarily be fun or interesting for the reader, and they must find it fun and fascinating too. And being able to make changes for them is critical. 
5.      Following up on that theme, you as the writer know everything, the whys, and hows of every action, but the reader must grasp this as well and best so without beating them over the head with a sledgehammer. 
6.      We must kill all our little darlings. (That’s Faulkner: if we love something that much, it’s likely to stand out from the rest of the text and probably needs to go.)
7.      When you publish, they won’t come. It’s 100% up to you to get out there, to ask for reviews, to ask for readings, to ask people to check out your material. If you don’t do that, very, very little will happen. If anything.
8.      Price smart: you want people to read your book. Use a first book as a foundation to build on.
9.      See question above.
Again, thanks Lance for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. We appreciate you and your work.