Please welcome Michael R. Fletcher to the blog! He stopped by to talk about his brand new fantasy Beyond Redemption, and more!
Will you tell us a bit about your new book, Beyond Redemption, and what inspired you to write it?
Talk about my book? Well, I suppose…
Beyond Redemption is a dark fantasy novel. Some are calling it grimdark. The story takes place in a world where belief shapes reality. If enough (sane) people believe the same thing they are capable of amazing feats. Religions and political groups use this to their advantage, fighting for the hearts and minds of the masses. The insane however are capable of believing something so utterly they can twist reality on their own. How this manifests depends on their delusions. Sociopaths demand worship and enslave people. Pyromaniacs start fires on a whim. In a novel where most of the characters are deranged, you can guess it’ll be a little dark.
This was the culmination of many inspirations. The idea started when I viewed modern warfare as simply a battle of ideologies and imagined those ideas doing battle rather than wars being fought with weapons. After that it got out of hand. For some reason I got extremely interested in psychiatry and wound up reading about strange delusions. Cotard’s delusion is one of my all time favorites. People actually believe they are slowly rotting away! I just had to use that in a fantasy setting.
What was one of your favorite characters to write in the novel?
All of the characters are so messed up. Wichtig, the self proclaimed Greatest Swordsman in the World, was a lot of fun. He’s a Gefahrgeist (sociopath). Writing from such a self-centered point of view was a blast. And of course he doesn’t see himself that way. He gives so much to his friends and they’re such ungrateful wretches.
Did you do any particular research for the book?
Mucho reading on the many and varied psychoses both common and uncommon. People are a messed up bunch capable of believing all manner of craziness. And that’s the sane ones!
Worldbuilding is very important in books like this. Will you tell us more about the “world” of Beyond Redemption?
What?! I kinda already did. Aw well, serves me right for not reading ahead.
I wanted a different flavor for the world. Instead of kingdoms I saw a horde of squabbling city-states, the shattered remnants of a long fallen empire.
It’s a malleable world. Convince the masses that the land is fertile and the crops shall grow. Convince folks the child they worship will Ascend and become a god and he will.
A great deal of work went into defining the rules of a mad world. Some of that can be found in the Beyond Redemption wiki.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I always wanted to be a writer but never had the nerve to throw myself into it. The few times I tried writing novels I gave up long before finishing.
After working in the music industry for ~17 years I realized I was unhappy and needed a change. I was more interested in spending time with my wife and daughter than being out late mixing rock bands.
Claiming it was a hobby and nothing more, I wrote my fist book, 88 (cyberpunk) while trying to figure out what else I could do for a living. 88 was published in 2013 by Five Rivers, a small Canadian press.
That taste of success lit a fire in me.
What’s one of the first things you remember writing?
The first short story I ever actually finished was about how corporations would insert plugs into employee’s heads and all memories created while at work would be stored there. A new level of security when it comes to intellectual property rights. Twenty years later I rewrote it (couldn’t find the original) and sold the story to Interzone. Sometimes I want to go back in time and smack myself.
What is your writing process like?
It’s all about putting your butt in a chair and doing the time. Personally, I’m terrified of distractions. When I decided I wanted to write I gave away my PS3 and canceled cable TV. I like to set arbitrary deadlines and goals and then work psychotically like they’re real. Controlled folly. The most recent book I wrote (still in editing) took ten weeks to write the first draft and clocks in at 120,000 words. That’s averaging 2,500 words a day, five days a week. Totally doable if you aren’t working another job.
While I put time into detailing and planning the world and the background for the story, very little planning goes into the actual story. I tend to think up a really simple plot and then throw the characters into it. The actual story comes out of all these folks interacting and reacting and chasing after their own goals.
Why fantasy? What do you love most about writing, and reading, in the genre?
One word answers all of those questions: Escapism.
I love that there are no rules. In what other genre could I write a book like Beyond Redemption?
What are a few of your biggest literary influences?
Michael Moorcock’s Elric books were pivotal. They were the first brooding anti-hero I ever read and shaped my expectations for fantasy.
I’ve read so much fantasy I’m sure it’s all influenced me to some degree. Happily, at this point I’m not trying to write like someone else. To be honest, I don’t really think in terms of influences.
What are you currently reading?
Anthony Ryan (Blood Song) wrote an amazing blurb for Beyond Redemption. After that we started chatting on twitter and he offered to send me an ARC of his latest novel, Queen of Fire. Score! It’s a fantastic conclusion to an amazing trilogy.
What’s next for you?
I’ve written the next two books in the Manifest Delusions series and am currently editing them. After that I have another dark fantasy series planned.
Uh…and world domination.
About Beyond Redemption:
A darkly imaginative writer in the tradition of Joe Abercrombie, Peter V. Brett, and Neil Gaiman conjures a gritty mind-bending fantasy, set in a world where delusion becomes reality . . . and the fulfillment of humanity’s desires may well prove to be its undoing.
When belief defines reality, those with the strongest convictions—the crazy, the obsessive, the delusional—have the power to shape the world.
And someone is just mad enough to believe he can create a god . . .
Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geistrekranken—men and women whose delusions manifest. Sustained by their own belief—and the beliefs of those around them—they can manipulate their surroundings. For the High Priest Konig, that means creating order out of the chaos in his city-state, leading his believers to focus on one thing: helping a young man, Morgen, ascend to become a god. A god they can control.
Trouble is, there are many who would see a god in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own doppelgangers, a Slaver no one can resist, and three slaves led by possibly the only sane man left.
As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one more obstacle: time is running out. Because as the delusions become more powerful, the also become harder to control. The fate of the Geistrekranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is:
Who will rule there?