Thursday, 3 October 2019

Release Day Spotlight & Guest Post: Sound by Catherine Fearns

Sound by Catherine Fearns

Can you hear it?

A professor of psychoacoustics is found dead in his office. It appears to be a heart attack, until a second acoustician dies a few days later in similar circumstances.

Meanwhile, there’s an outbreak of mysterious illnesses on a council estate, and outbursts of unexplained violence in a city centre nightclub. Not to mention strange noises coming from the tunnels underneath Liverpool. Can it really be a coincidence that death metal band Total Depravity are back in the city, waging their own form of sonic warfare?

Detective Inspector Darren Swift is convinced there are connections. Still grieving his fiancĂ©’s death and sworn to revenge, he is thrown back into action on the trail of a murderer with a terrifying and undetectable weapon.

But this case cannot be solved using conventional detective work, and D.I. Swift will need to put the rulebook aside and seek the occult expertise of Dr. Helen Hope and her unlikely sidekick, guitarist Mikko Kristensen.

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10 Books That Influenced ‘Sound’

Sound is a police procedural with a difference. You can try and solve the mystery along with the detectives, but you can also explore the interlinking themes that the book introduces – from psychoacoustics to black metal to chaos theory. I did a lot of wide-ranging research before writing Sound, but here is a list of the books that influenced me the most.

Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, The Messiah
I used this obscure epic written in the 1740s by the German lyric poet Klopstock, because it is one of only a handful of literary sources that reference the demon Adramelech, who has an important role in my books. To be honest, it’s incredibly tedious, and less beautiful than the other main literary source for Adramelech, Milton’s Paradise Lost. But I referenced that tediousness in the pastiche grimoire excerpts I created for my book. And I also noticed, on reading Klopstock, the variety of sonic images he employed throughout – trumpets, thunder, booming voices etc – which no doubt had an impact on the concept for Sound. As with the Bible, and with Paradise Lost, Klopstock’s heaven and hell are both very noisy places.
Finally, I stole The Messiah title as the name of my black metal vocalist character.

Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudun
This is a non-fiction novel written in 1952 about religious hysteria and repression in C17th France. It was made into a controversial film by Ken Russell, and it concerns the true events surrounding Catholic priest Urbain Grandier and a convent of nuns who allegedly became possessed after Grandier made a demonic pact. This is another book that has some tedious philosophical parts. But I’m glad I trawled through them to get back to the salacious priests and nuns. Because I also came across a philosophical section so profound – few passages have ever resonated with me that strongly. Huxley pauses the narrative for a while to consider the nature of possession, the importance of belief, and why we need the supernatural.

Dayal Patterson, Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult
This is probably the best, and certainly the most comprehensive, book about black metal.
I’m a heavy metal journalist, musician and fan, so I know a lot about metal music and culture. But black metal is something quite specific, and I wanted to make sure I was fully versed in its history before I wrote about it.

A.S. Byatt, Possession
The 1990 Booker prize-winning novel uses an extremely ambitious bricolage technique, as well as multiple timelines, to craft a literary mystery that is packed with romance and suspense. I was completely captivated by this novel in my teens and wrote about it for my English Literature A-level. I have never forgotten its ambition and conceit, and I have no doubt that the bricolage, pastiche and time-hopping techniques I employ are a result of my reading AS Byatt.

Phil Hine, Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magick
Chaos Magick is a contemporary magical practice, defined in the 1970s by the occultist Austin Osman Spare. I used this short book as a primer, because I hadn’t heard of chaos magick before. I have to admit, I wasn’t completely convinced by this as a way of life – it’s all rather convenient. But I was very taken with two of its tenets: belief as a tool, and the central motto that ‘Nothing is true; everything is permitted.’ I felt they were very relevant to what I am trying to do with my books. I introduced the Chaos Magick ideas into the book using Mikko and his band Total Depravity, who write a concept album about it.

Trevor Cox, Sonic Wonderland: A Scientific Odyssey of Sound
Trevor Cox is a Professor of Acoustic Engineering who also write some brilliant popular science. This book was unputdownable and I made so many notes that I filled a whole notebook. Revelations on every page about the invisible world of sound waves.

Patrick Suskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Perfume was an enormously successful novel written in 1985 (and made into a successful movie) which explores the sense of smell - Perfume is renowned for its vivid descriptions of scents and smells, which come alive on the page. Obviously I was writing about sound rather than smell, but I was inspired by the way he rose to the challenge of describing a human sense so fully, and I wanted to attempt something similar.

Jim Moore, Underground Liverpool
I already knew I wanted to write about the tunnels of Liverpool before I ordered this local history book. But I didn’t know how fascinating the subject would be. With its porous sandstone base and its colourful industrial past, Liverpool is a city that lives underground more than most. And how appropriate, given that I am writing about hell! Beautifully illustrated and meticulously researched, this has to be my favourite history book about Liverpool.

David Toop, Ocean of Sound: ambient sound and radical listening in the age of communication
This was a bit of an outlier. I had already written most of Sound by the time I read this book; sometimes when I’m at the later stages of writing I like to take a step back and do some more reading and research, to see if there’s anything I’ve missed or got wrong. I wanted to read something about ambient sound, and I was drawn to the book because I loved the idea of ‘radical listening’. I also wanted to consider how our listening has changed over the past century. David Toop has a way of describing music that is uniquely beautiful, and I found myself reading passages over and over again.

Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool. Her novels Reprobation (2018) and Consuming Fire (2019) are published by Crooked Cat and are both Amazon bestsellers. As a music journalist Catherine has written for Pure Grain Audio, Broken Amp and Noisey. Her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Toasted Cheese, Succubus, Here Comes Everyone, Offshoots and Metal Music Studies. She lives in Geneva with her husband and four children, and when she’s not writing or parenting, she plays guitar in a heavy metal band.
Twitter: @metalmamawrites

Giveaway to Win a signed trio of Catherine Fearns books plus merchandise (Open Internationally)
Prize includes - SOUND t-shirt, coaster, magnet and bar blade, plus signed copies of Reprobation, Consuming Fire and Sound.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.