This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hugs Therapy Virtual Tour 2010: A Interview with author Marvin D. Wilson

           Marvin Wilson is my special guest today on Tossing It Out.  This post is part of  The Old Silly's Hugs Therapy Virtual Tour 2010 .    Marvin's got a great contest going with lots of fun and valuable prizes and you can get all of the details here.

             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:

Iam is a homeless, smelly, ugly, unkempt old man who has a hug so powerful it can heal those who receive it physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Iam's powers have a radical effect on a prostitute and her dysfunctional family, and an ex-terrorist Muslim and his former Christian enemy who go on to found a peace group called CUE ( Coalition for Unity and Enlightenment).  An array of colorful characters fill this epic story of love, forgiveness, and intrigue.

           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?
   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.

:   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  posting on Thursday October 28, 2010.



  1. Wow, man, like far out! (wink) Just hadda wax old-Hippie there for a sec, lol. Hey great job on this tour stop, Arlee ... much appreciated! I'll be back a few times later on to interact with folks if they want, and also looking forward to tomorrow's review - a bonus post I had not expected! :)

  2. Awesome, interesting interview gentlemen! I love the musical approach! :)

  3. Very interesting and different kind of interview - loved this! Nice job, both you guys. I'm a BIG MDW fan, read all his books, including Hugs (AWESOME, btw!), and go to his blog almost every day. Love YOUR blog, too, Arlee - I'll have to stop back again! :)

  4. Jemi - Thanks, and yes ... when Arlee proposed this kind of questioning I was like, YEAH! Now THAT's a unique way to go about it!

    Cactus - You're a real peach, honey ... if only I had about 10 million fans like you! ;)

  5. The premise of this book sound very intriguing and, honestly, very unique. It would be quite a tremendous event should the ills and major conflicts be resolved with a hug that can bring understanding and enlightenment.

    Wonderful interview. Makes my fingers itch to start pulling CDs out of my music library and spend a day drowning in them.

  6. Neat way of pulling music into the theme of this sounds like it works well in the book too. Need to to put this on my TBR list. Thanks.

  7. Wow, great job!

    It's amazing to see how we can intertwine so much to writing, you pointed that out today. As Marvin does with dirt and composting ... I love it!

  8. Enjoyed the interview. Interesting to see how music plays its own part in the story.

    Thoughts in Progress

  9. Very interesting, Marvin. Not being a musical person, except for listening, I liked reading how music seems to influence your writing.

  10. A very interesting post today. I knew Marvin was a musician but not to this extent. I understand music, writing, and art are shared gifts. Many have all three. I could see a soundtrack to Marvin's book if it ever became a movie. Nicely done blog today.

  11. Way to go on the interview, enjoyed it. Loved all the music references. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  12. I really enjoyed the interview Arlee. It made me want to check out the book! Love Di ♥

  13. Marvin -- Thank you for your excellent answers to my questions.

    Jemi -- Thank you Jemi--You got an early start this morning!

    Annie -- Glad you stopped by. Marvin seems like a pretty cool guy. I probably need to check the rest of his work. Always enjoy his blog.

    Kimberly --Yes, if only problems could be solved with a hug--I'd be hugging everyone I met all day long. A CD music marathon would be fun.

    Gregg-- Please stop by tomorrow and give me your take on my review/commentary.

    Liza -- The music of the book really caught my attention, but of course I'm always attracted to music.

    Dezmond -- Thank you!

    Kissie -- Since writing can be about anything, the process can also be compared to anything--that's the way I see it.

    Mason -- Music is a continual presence in the book.

    Helen -- Music does have a way a shaping us, especially when you are a musician.

    Stephen -- I had known Marvin was a rock musician and played in a praise band, but before this interview I had no idea about how serious of a musician he had been --I'm impressed!

    Jules -- I'm glad you stopped by today.

    Diana -- Thank you for stopping.

  14. Excellent interview....
    A fascinating post today. I may just check out this book.

  15. Kimberly - that sounds like a GREAT way to spend the day!

    Greg - thanks!

    Liza - you have one of those lists, too, hmm? lol

    Desmond - thanks for dropping by. :)

    Kissie - we can pull ANYthing together, right? (wink)

    Mason, thanks for stopping in, and yuup - music is BIG in my life and influences.

    Helen, thanks so much for being here and the comment. :)

    Stephen - hey - maybe if it becomes a movie I can compose the soundtrack!

    Jules - thanks for the comment. :)

    Diane - I hope you DO check out and enjoy your Hugs!

    Andrew - take the 'may' out and you'll get your Hugs for sure! ;)

  16. ARLEE BOID ~
    This was a really cool, interesting post! It was also very long (by your standards) - almost reaching epic Stephen T. McCarthy proportions. And yet, it didn't matter one iota because what I was reading held my interest.

    Let that be a lesson to all the [expletive deleted] out there who think that blog bits MUST be short!

    Now, I'll confess, I've seen The Old Silly's comments on your blog bits many times, r-LEE-b, but never once did I click on his name and visit his own blog. Why? Because of the name - "The Old Silly". Somehow the name doesn't exactly pique my curiosity. I associate the word "old" with "tired"; I associate the word "silly" with "superficial" or "lightweight". In my opinion, Marvin is doing himself a major disservice using that pseudonym here in the blogosphere. I would have visited his blog a long time ago if he were going by a name that didn't automatically turn me off. My time is limited and "The Old Silly" doesn't exactly translate in my mind to "Check Me Out".

    But I gotta say, McBuddy, I liked what Marvin had to say in this interview, I liked the concept of his book, and I even liked his photograph - he looks like "Old School Hollywood", like from the Robert Mitchum, John Wayne or William Holden era of when men were men and Brut cologne was plenty good enough.

    Also, RICHARD BACH! Back before The Bible became my bible, Richard Bach's "Illusions: The Adventures Of A Reluctant Messiah" was my bible. I used to read it every New Year's Eve, just to get the next year started out on the right foot, and I still rate one maxim from that book amongst my all-time favorite quotes: "Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they're yours." That's from memory, because I've said it a million times over the last few decades.

    I'm going to try to find a copy of Marvin's book at the library, and if I can't acquire a copy there, I might very well buy one. This despite the fact that - as you know, my brother Lee - I almost NEVER read fiction anymore.

    Thanks for posting this extremely interesting interview. I am going to sign up to follow "The Old Silly" blog now. I likely would have done so long ago but for... that name. Ugh! He's gotta do something about that name!

    ~ Stephen
    "As a dog returns to his own vomit,
    so a fool repeats his folly."
    ~ Proverbs 26:11

  17. Great interview. I am not surprised that writers are also often musicians. I missed the art boat but so many folks seem to be gifted in many areas.

  18. Another musician at heart! Great questions and answers, dudes.

  19. Stephen McCarthy - wow, dude - what a cool comment! I also sometimes go by the moniker, 'Paize Fiddler' which is a play on words from my last novel, Owen Fiddler. but The Old Silly? It's just my humorous, self-efacing style, I guess - sorry it turned you off - but I AM a fun-loving, intelligent, extremelty talented and gifted (also VERY humble, right? See why I need to self-eface? teehee)kind of Old Hippie guy, soooo ... glad to know you're gonna get your Hugs one way or the other, and I'll be looking to see you over at The Old Silly's Free Spirit Blog!

    Debbie - lots of writers, being artists, are also talented in the other arts, and visa versa, I've found.

    Alex - YES!

  20. Hey Arlee- One more time saying "Thanks!" for such a bang up job, man! I'm tied up with family biz this eve, but will check back in early am to respond to any later comments, and of course will look forward to your review/feedback/impression post tomorrow on Beware the Devil's Hug!

  21. I really enjoyed this interview, thanks.

  22. Great interview! Thanks Arlee & Marvin!

  23. Here's a collective thanks to everyone who stopped by so far to leave a comment and a very special thank you to Marvin for making my blog a stop on his tour.

    Oh and StMc -- that was a pretty impressive comment!


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