Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Little from Column A, a Little from Column B

I’m still writing a book and I’m still feeling mouthy about it, and Julian is still asking questions...

Seems like music and mind control are recurring themes thus far. Is this related somehow to the insect world, or more a reflection of your interests?
You characterize it as “mind control”—I see it as a way of literalizing some behaviors in nature; camouflage, deception, and eusociality a.k.a. the “hive mind” phenomenon. In the case of the last I’ve tried to portray a couple of different models of correspondence. Among the Emeth, for instance, adherence to prescribed roles in reinforced by strong taboos and conformist pressures. For the Mélif, by contrast, the model is top-down and pheromone-based—more or less as it is in an actual beehive.

(And there are limits to the Regina’s Influence, as well: There’s a whole separate thread about the intrigues going on at the apiary that’s barely been touched on so far, because I’m writing it out of sequence. I don’t want to blow the reveal, but: Suffice to say that her control is far from absolute, and is maintained far more by terror and violence than by her Influence per se—and in this, too, the entomological underpinnings inform the plot points.)

As to music: It’s an interest of mine, yeah, but I would hope that I’d be able to resist the temptation to shoehorn my own personal hobbyhorses into the work simply for their own sake. Fiddlin’ Katy ended up a musician because I needed a viewpoint character who was an outsider, and who had freedom of movement; as a contrasting figure to the Emeth, she of course became a grasshopper—and, well, what do grasshoppers do, after all?

The musical component of the Crazy Eights episode was even more pragmatically conceived. I needed a way to convey to the reader the maddening experience of having a sticky thought lodged in your head, and the earworm phenomenon is something I figured would be
familiar to most of us.

(And if you really must know, it was this.)

Take advantage of me while I’m drunk in a talkative mood! Queries in the comments or at jfeerick AT rochester DOT rr DOT com. And hey, thanks for reading, everybody who’s reading.


Julian Hsu said...

Okay now that was cool. Thanks for the links.. and the answers!

So since you're in a talkative mood (and an admitted process wonk), I'm curious about your take on how well serialization for the web synchronizes with writing for book form. I would guess perhaps that shorter attention spans prevail on the web, and wonder if that affects pacing, and the amount of details you choose to share.


p.s. I especially liked Zeno's Paradoxes

Julian Hsu said...

One more: the puppet. I love the puppet, it resonated with me for reasons I had difficulty figuring.. until it hit me this past weekend: Yūrei.

I'm guessing perhaps this informed the characterization of the puppet? I saw a movie once, title escapes me, where a man was lulled by one of these ghosts into almost joining her in death, and when he finally realized what was happening, it had this same feeling of abject horror and terror.

Jack Feerick said...

The Japanese influence in that episode isn't exactly hidden - but oddly enough, I wasn't consciously thinking of Japanese ghost stories, though I love 'em. The most direct lift was from the Kobo Abe novel WOMAN IN THE DUNES and Hiroshi Teshigahara's film adaptation. I suppose I might have been thinking of bunraku, traditional Japanese puppetry, to which I was introduced by Takeshi Kitano's movie Dolls, but just as likely it was Being John Malkovich...

I was also fascinated by neuro-linguistic programming - and with Derren Brown, who does routines where he speaks monologues that make no literal sense but which are loaded with trigger words that activate odd behaviors; causing a mall full of shoppers to all raise their right hands simultaneously after he gives a brief speech over the PA, for instance.

That research is going to be more evident in the second draft; on the first go 'round, I was most interested in, as you noted, getting the atmosphere right.

The film you're thinking of sounds like it might be Kwaidan, by the way...

Julian Hsu said...

It is Kwaidan. I owe you one for that! I saw it once on a plane, and never again- must've been 15 years ago...

The Derren Brown stuff, very intriguing.

Thanks again,