Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Author Interview: Darin Bradley

Listen to the interview here!

Tell me a little about yourself and your writing.
I wear a number of different hats. I'm the founding fiction editor of Farrago's Wainscot and Behind the Wainscot (Paul Jessup now edits BtW for us). I also edit poetry and literary fiction for Drollerie Press.

I'm also an active critical scholar (I have an M.A. in Literature and Literary Criticism and a Ph.D. in English Literature and Theory)— my critical work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Internet Review of Science Fiction, The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and Membra Disjecta. I work predominantly on the confluence of contemporary cognitive theory and experimental speculative fiction.

I'm also a designer—I've done cover work for both Wheatland Press and Drollerie Press, and I do all of the Farrago design.

Primarily, though, I'm a writer. I prefer novels to short fiction, though I do both. My work typically addresses the "weird" as an operating metaphor for alienation, but I sometimes work with more straightforward, mythic themes. I'm fascinated by dissolution, decay, and the unstable nature of "self." My short fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from Electric Velocipede, Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy, 3:AM Magazine, Diet Soap, Bewildering Stories, Polyphony 6, and The Porch. My novels are unpublished.

Tell me about the story that you've created a soundtrack/playlist for.
AMARANTH, a novel, takes place in the very near future, when the international economic society collapses. When it does, an underground movement of Citizens' Television Band broadcasters is ready. Hackers, taggers, modders, and anarchists have all authored the rules for a new society in the gaps between establishment media. As people take new names and new identities to make their way to their own promised lands, to try to survive, the past becomes the present, and everything sane becomes everything macabre.

What is your playlist?
Because this "playlist" was designed to sustain the drafting of an entire novel, and not just a story, it's actually a list of albums rather than songs. My player shuffled them randomly while I was working.

[Note: most of these albums can be ordered from Malignant Records and/or Ad Noiseam.]

The albums (and artists) are

Ágætis Byrjun - Sigur Rós
Summer Make Good - Mum
Layering Buddha - Robert Henke
Kid A - Radiohead
Hail to the Thief - Radiohead
Simulations 2.0 - L'ombre
Aquifère - Iszoloscope
Distant Lights - Burial
Dummy - Portishead
Gun Aramaic - Muslimgauze
Gun Aramaic, Pt. 2 - Muslimgauze
Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble - Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble
Inquisition Symphony - Apocalyptica
Rock Action - Mogwai
Young Team - Mogwai
Happy Songs for Happy People - Mogwai
The Madlands Trilogy - Mad EP
Out from Out Where - Amon Tobin
Pure Language - Keef Baker
Strength in Numbers - Calla
Symbol - Susuma Yokota
Life Itself - Gooding
3X - Gooding
Trace - Gridlock

I chose these particular artists and albums because the novel I was working on is very bleak. There is only one arguably "happy" scene in the entire story (which is really more of a textual artifact than a story), and I wanted a writing environment that reflected the ambient solitude expressed in the text. Some of these albums are experimental "noise music," and others are simply wild audio recordings of vast, bleak places. I found writing some of the material both challenging and disturbing, and this playlist helped me echo that . . . troublesome nature of the project. It made for some somber writing periods, but they were all ultimately rewarding.

What does music mean to you? To your writing?
Honestly, music doesn't have a particular meaning for me. I enjoy it a great deal, and it's usually playing around me most of the time, sort of accompanying my misadventures, but I've never been the type to sit and only listen to music. I have a dilettante's appreciation and not an aficionado's.

That said, though, I have as much respect for the musical endeavor as I do the literary, or the artistic. A few years ago, I filmed and edited a documentary about a startup literary magazine called The Porch. A large portion of that story involved local musicians, who lent their talents to helping promote the magazine, and I came to see how very universal general artistic struggle can be.

As for my writing, music gets (perhaps unfairly) background shelving while I'm working. I play it while I'm writing, as I find that if I Hermetically seal myself in a silent, distraction-free writing environment, I tend to do more thinking and less writing. The literary endeavor is isolating enough as it is—music helps . . . vent that silent laboratory-feel for me.

What kind of music do you like to write to?
It varies from project to project, and it can surprise me every time, so I'm not sure I can formulate an answer to this one. Sometimes it's one-man-band banjo music, sometimes it's a cello suite, sometimes it's industrial. We'll see what happens on the next project . . .

If this story was made into a movie, who would you want to do the soundtrack?
Actually, if someone suffered the dereliction of sanity it would require to option and then produce a film version of Amaranth, I would hope it went un-scored. The resonant silence would go a long way toward conveying the narrative texture that would be absent in a film version.

Anything else you'd like to say about music and writing/creating?
Yes—I owe a great debt of gratitude to Mark Teppo, who introduced me to most of the artists who comprise the playlist above.

To learn more about Darin, check out his website!

Next week, we've got a great soundtrack from up and coming author Heather Domin. See you then!

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