The book that's being promoted is called Beware the Devil's Hug. To get more information and to purchase this book you can click here.
Here's the nutshell version of Beware the Devil's Hug:
It's a fascinating concept that's presented in this book and I'll be reviewing and commenting on this book in my post tomorrow. Today I want to take a look at Marvin D. Wilson the author and his approach to writing, and in particular how he approached writing Beware the Devil's Hug.
Many of you who read Tossing It Out and who know something about Marvin Wilson may be aware that he and I both have a background in music. With that common interest in mind, I became curious to know how music influences his approach to writing and what musical influences can be found in this particular novel.
As I read the book I couldn't help but notice frequent references to songs that various characters were singing to themselves or thinking about in various scenes, or how certain songs were actually part of the scenes. A soundtrack could literally accompany this book. I began to think about how writing might be similar to composing and performing music I wanted to get Marvin's take on all of this and see if he could shed some further light on my observation.
Here is my interchange with author Marvin D. Wilson:
Arlee: We've heard quite a bit about Marvin Wilson the author on the Hugs Virtual Tour, but what can you tell us about Marvin the musician?
Marvin: My first performance was at the age of two. As my mother accompanied me, I stood next to her on the piano bench in church singing, “Give Me That Old Time Religion”. By the time I was in Junior High (the Old School equivalent of today’s “Middle School”), I was playing the guitar, teaching myself by ear, listening to Beatles’ albums. In High School I was playing electric guitar, bass (both electric and standup), and some piano. I was the choir president, and was composing classical choral pieces that my choir director thought highly enough of to have our choir perform a couple of them in concerts. I also performed lead roles in the annual musicals, singing and acting in “The Music Man” and “South Pacific”.
I was able to go to college on a scholarship I auditioned for and won, majoring in music with a minor in theater. I kept growing in the classical music composition arena, again getting favorable enough reactions from my professors to my writing to have—three, I believe—of my pieces rehearsed and performed in concerts ... two choral compositions and one big band jazz piece. But my college career was cut short before I finished my sophomore year. I ‘tuned in, turned on, and dropped out’—into the Hippie Movement at age twenty.
As a young stud Hippie musician, I traveled all over the US, Mexico and Canada, doing lots of drugs and groupies, living the wild life of hallucinogenics, sex, and rock and roll for the next fifteen years. I might have died eventually of an overdose of licentious lifestyle had I not met my wife in my late 20’s, who I fell so in love with that she was able to get me to throw my ‘little black book’ away, settle down, get married, and get a ‘real job’ in order to better support and be there for our growing family.
Although no longer a full-time professional musician, I still play and sing in my church’s Praise Band, and occasionally get gigs with local civic theater productions. I recently played lead electric guitar in the musical, “Aida”, the score of which was written by Elton John.
Arlee: Throughout the book there were frequent references to songs, with characters singing, thinking about, or hearing particular songs. If you were to assign a particular song as a theme for each of the main characters, which songs would you use and why?
Specifically I'm talking about the characters Iam (the old man), Destiny (the prostitute), Christian (the Christian), and the organization CUE?
Marvin: Iam would definitely have “What a Wonderful World”, the Louis Armstrong version, as his theme song. Destiny? I think Anita Baker’s “Caught up in the Rapture of Love” would be perfect for her. For Christian I’d assign Bob Marley’s “One Love”, and that would also be CUE’s theme song. I can picture the entire massive assemble of people from all over the world, of all different ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds, holding hands and singing, “One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright.”
Arlee: If there were a film version of Beware the Devil’s Hug, what songs would be a good one for the opening and for the final credits?
Marvin: I would again go with “One Love” for the final credits. For the opening, Prologue Parts One and Two, I would go instrumental, using excerpts from Igor Stravinksi’s “The Rite of Spring”.
Arlee: Some of the action in the book takes place in the Middle East and one of the main characters, Ali, is Middle Eastern. Are you a fan of middle eastern music?
Marvin: I honestly don’t know that much about it. When I hear it—and I do occasionally get exposed to it through my several Muslim friends—I always enjoy it and am fascinated by it. The scales, the quarter tones, the vocal gymnastics that some of the virtuoso singers can perform, as well as the unusual time signatures and instrumentations—incredible. But I rarely seek it out on the radio nor do I own any CD’s. Couldn’t tell you the names of any famous Middle Eastern musicians, really.
Arlee: When you are composing a novel, do you take a structured approach like a classical composer, an intellectual approach like a improvisational jazz musician, or a more formulaic good time approach like a rock songwriter?
Marvin: Probably a Jazz Rock fusion approach would best describe my formula. Lots of improvisational passages dispersed throughout a weaving of blues, rhythm and blues, soft and hard rock, ballads, etc.
Arlee: So would you say that when you are writing a book, rather than scoring it carefully note by note like a classical composer, it's more like a jam session that you go back to polish up later?
Marvin: Definitely a jam session when pounding out the first draft. Hugs was written in a three week intense blur. I don’t remember much of anything else that happened during that time. It was just like being so “in the moment” … like when you are when caught up in a magical jam session with some great musicians. The music takes over your entire being and things come out of you that you never knew you were capable of. Time stops. Creativity takes over. Your ‘self’ gets lost for a while in the blessed ‘here and now’ of composition creation.
Now when I go back for the self-editing, revisions, rewrites, etc., then I am the classical musician, crafting the rough stone into a gem. My editor on Hugs, Deb Harris, of All Things That Matter Press, even admonished me to not be so anal and over-micro managerial of my words. She encouraged me to go back and leave a lot of the free-flowing prose the way it was before I corrected every little thing to read like some stickler of an editor had written it rather than a creative writer. Also, during the revisions stage, I strive to create more intensity where needed, push harder on the emotional buttons if necessary, and relocate or even take out scenes altogether if they seem out of place or not really part of, moving it along, the core story.
Arlee: Do you see this book as a symphony with specific movements consisting of themes and variations on themes, or is it more like a grouping of smaller ensemble pieces that complement one another?
Marvin: It’s a symphonic composition with several themes and variations on those themes, with movements ranging from glaringly definite to subtle.
Arlee: If this book were a concert, do you see this book as a serious work like a classical performance, or is it more like a rock concert, or is it something else?
Marvin: Interesting question. I’d like to think it would be an interactive experience, a concert of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual exchanges, dancing through the body-minds of all present like a 70s ‘live-in’ spontaneous happening that occurs within the ostensible confines of a classical setting … the novel format being like the ‘hallowed halls’ auditorium within which anything, classical-stodgy, to enlightening, to shocking, to ribald, can happen.
Arlee: J.S. Bach is known for precise mathematical compositions that glorify God. Mozart was a populist composer who could often be crude in his operas. Wagner wrote soaring epics and took his work quite seriously. If you were comparing yourself to a classical composer, which composer would you be and why?
Marvin: My favorite spiritual/inspirational author is Richard Bach, and I am a huge fan also of J.S. Bach’s compositions. While my books are not precise mathematical compositions, I do intend to glorify God with them, and, like Wagner, I take my writing very seriously. And yet, as anyone who has read my books knows, I can get down and dirty and ‘crude’ if the story calls for it, like Mozart. So … I would compare myself to all three. How’s that for an ambiguous answer? (wink) Maybe I should have been a politician?
And there you have it folks. Two older but young at heart ex-hippies just rapping about books and music. Do you ever look at writing from a different point of view? Sometimes it's liberating to think outside of the box just like Marvin did in his book.
Thanks Marvin for this interview today. I enjoyed the insight you gave and I hope the readers did as well.
Don't forget--I'll have a bit more to say about Beware the Devil's Hug tomorrow right here on Tossing It Out. Hope you will join me here.
Make sure you visit the next stop on the tour which will be Helen Ginger http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com/ posting on Thursday October 28, 2010.