Friday, December 05, 2014

Author Interview: Seth Mullins: What Casts the Shadow?, Trust in the Unseen and The Edge of the Known trilogy

Seth Mullins writes visionary fiction, stories that seek for a marriage between the invisible inner landscape from whence our dreams and deepest inspirations come and the waking world, the world that we call ‘the real’, which sorely needs those life-giving forces. The result is fiction that seethes with surface drama and conflict while at the same time revealing aspects of the deeper mysteries of reality and of our own souls. The Edge of the Known series, his most recent project, is also inspired by years spent as a songwriter and performing musician. Seth has spent years in Connecticut, New Mexico and Oregon, and currently lives in Vermont. 

Your real name and pen name? 

Seth Mullins (no pen name)

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

I grew up literally a stone’s throw away from the beach in Milford, Connecticut. I spent most of my spare time, in my youth, down by the waters. Because of the shifting tides, it’s like you keep going back to the same place but each time it’s a somewhat different landscape. I’d hunt for little fish left behind in the little tidal pools, run across the rocks, take the trail out to Charles’ Island at low tide, take a rowboat out to sea, etc.

About your education

I never went on to formal college, but I took creative writing courses at two community colleges, in Santa Fe, NM. and Eugene, OR. 

What career did you plan during your education days

I always wanted to be a novelist, though for several years the allure of being a musician and songwriter wielded an equally strong pull.

What languages you can speak and write?

Primarily just English. I’ve taught myself a smattering of French, mostly so I could read Rimbaud in the original, and learned enough Spanish to get by when I worked in restaurants in New Mexico.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life

Love of the human race, and belief in us and our potential. Without that, why write?

What hurts you most in this world

People being cruel to others, particularly for no reason (and what valid reason IS there, ever?) 

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?

Psychologists talk about the three possible responses to trauma and/or fear: Fight, flight or freeze. This is a simplified model, but I do think it holds some truth. I was always a “freezer”, which can create a real conundrum for someone who has the intense desire to make art and be expressive. I worked past it by breathing through the fear and refusing to let it still my creative voice. It was a journey of many small steps. It also, incidentally, inspired me to write my current novels from the point of view of a protagonist whose default position is “fight”.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

One of the “live fast, die young” musicians: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain… I’d like to experience life at that speed; also, the intensity of expression. I’ll go with Morrison, because I feel a closer philosophical resonance with him.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

I wrote my first novel at fifteen – tenth grade – not that it was anything remotely publishable! J It was very Tolkienesque; and like Tolkien, I created an imagined world for it and set another two novels within that world. I was excited by the way in which fantasies can illuminate our inner reality. Somewhere along the line, this dovetailed with my burgeoning interest in metaphysics, shamanism, dreams… I began to realize that all the magic within any fantasy story actually infuses the world that exists all around us. That became a new kind of aesthetic ideal for me in my writing, to pierce the veil and reveal that underlying magic, so that the stories pull it into a reader’s awareness.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share
a synopsis of your work?

This is a synopsis of “What Casts the Shadow?” (without spoilers):
When an altercation outside of a performance venue nearly proves fatal, Brandon Chane begins to realize how far his life is spinning out of control. His efforts to channel his pain, frustration and thwarted loves into his music may not suffice to save him. Then he meets Saul, a crisis counselor with the soul of an ancient medicine-man, and a far-reaching journey of healing - one that may teach him how to steer away from the very edge of the Abyss - begins.

And for its follow-up, “Trust in the Unseen”:
"We'd all thrown our fates to the wind, trusting in the unknown - in the Unseen, as our EP so proudly proclaimed - and that leap had thus far landed us in a place where we couldn't even grope our way forward in the dark anymore."
Brandon Chane was beginning to realize that discovering his voice was only the first step of the journey. Now he must somehow learn to trust the depths from which it comes, and the unknown horizons that it may sweep him away to, even as every part of his personal world seems to be falling apart...

And here is an overview of The Edge of the Known trilogy, of which they are a part:
The Edge of the Known spans about six years in the life of what will become the most powerful and influential rock band of its generation. It follows a young man’s discovery of his own voice and the way in which his voice resonates with the world around him to an extent that he never dared to dream. It explores the journey of a group of misfits – and the ways in which the perceptions of an outsider can become a gift to society. It is a paean to the shamanic power of art. We witness the internal and the external forces that fuel this band's turbulent rise to glory.
As Brandon Chane's spiritual mentor Saul Mason puts it, “You were born into the particular time and place where your voice would be needed.”
Saul works as a counselor to people in crisis. Beneath his professional role, however, he’s really more akin to a mystic thinker and an intuitive healer. He endeavors to show Brandon how his life is his own creation – that, because he has made for himself a life full of suffering he therefore also has the power to choose a new path. Brandon, in turn, is able to absorb and digest Saul’s teachings  - which oftentimes can veer off into the realm of the esoteric – and reflect them in his own way, in a kind of street vernacular that his audience can relate to. This is one reason why his band becomes a creative force that fans so readily take to heart and honor as something rare and special.
Saul’s tutelage begins to alter the trajectory not only of Brandon’s personal life but also of his group’s destiny. In time, Edge of the Known evolves into one of those rare bands that come along maybe a handful of times in any generation: A band that inspires a powerful, even sacred rapport with its audience. The energy and message that they convey – to all those with the ears to hear – eventually sparks a cultural revolution.

What are your forthcoming writings?

I’m in the midst of writing the last book in this series: “Humanity’s Way Forward”.

What are your future plans?

This saga has occupied so much of my whole being; at the moment, it’s hard to conceive of my life when I’m not working on it. And yet that time is drawing near. I’ll probably spend some time writing related content, and utilizing it for promotion, before turning my thoughts to another fiction project.  

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

(1) For this book particularly, getting the narrator’s voice right was crucial. I read a lot of the text aloud while working through it, listening for natural cadences. (2) It’s important to me that the story reach some emotional culmination. The climax should be as much internal as external. (3) Character interactions should feel real. I dislike overly-polished Hollywood-style dialogue. People just don’t articulate their thoughts in a neat, linear and orderly manner every time. There’s inevitably stumbling and backtracking. (4) The resolution should constitute not only an unravelling of the plot but also, in some way, a victory of the human spirit, an expansion of the very forces of life; a change in the consciousness of the characters.  

How much real life goes into fiction writing?

Well, everything that is written has been experienced on some level. It’s all filtered through an author’s consciousness, whether it was encountered firsthand, researched, heard about or imagined. Even an imagined event is still an event; it carries sensation. But I do think that when readers try and draw direct correlations between fictional characters and real-life people this just seeps the magic out of a story. Fiction is much wider and deeper than what it (supposedly) refers to. 

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?

Yes. But the imagination is a vast faculty and everyone will focus it in a unique way. I’ve heard it said that George Lucas, for example, has a very visual imagination. It doesn’t manifest that way for me. I can envision the mood of a scene, or the emotional pith of certain character interactions, really clearly. Often I’ll have to struggle to see the details of a room, though. In that regard, I don’t have as sharp and clear a mental lens as I’d like and so visualizing such a scene requires more effort.    

Your dream destination on Earth? 

The Egyptian pyramids, the Irish moors, the mountains of Peru, a cruise down the Amazon, New Zealand…

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed.

I was born in Milford, Connecticut. Sad to say, I have thus far only left the country to visit Canada.

Your favorite time of the day? 

My psyche typically needs to ‘go down’ in the late afternoon/early evening (around 3-5 p.m.) and peaks during the late night and early morning hours.

Your zodiac/ sunsign? 

Leo

Your favorite color and why? 

Violet. For its beauty and rarity.

Your favorite movie and why? 

The last movie I saw that really blew me away was “Powow Highway”. It so beautifully depicts the invisible forces of life and the unexpected (and fruitful) directions that they can sweep us away to.

Your favorite celebrity and why? 

After all this time, I’d still have to say John Lennon. He was not only a brilliant visionary artist but also someone who put the (oft-times regrettable) platform of fame to its best possible use, in service to humanity and peace and love.

Your favorite food? 

Mulberries. Why can one not buy them in cartons at the grocery store, but must rather be obliged to sneak into people’s yards and climb their trees in quest of such delicious fruit?

What comes to your mind when you think of India? 

Mother Meera, Gandhi, sitars, Ravi Shankar, mysticism. A country with feminine connotations, as America has masculine ones. 

Some quickies: Sun or Moon, Laughter or Smile, Morning or Evening,
Coffee or Tea, Mountain or Sea, Long Drive or Short Drive, Silence or
Conversation, Water or Fire, Air or Earth, Mars or Jupiter, Tulip or
Rose, Red or Blue, Left or Right, Glance or Stare

Smile, Evening, Coffee, Silent Conversations, Earth, Jupiter, Tulip, Blue, Left, Glance

What three words come to your mind for each – 
Technology (speed, fear, ease), 
Life (light, promise, garden), 
God (judgment, father, rules),
Humanity (becoming, striving, love), 
Terrorism (fear, blind, misguided), 
Racism , Childhood Abuse (sorrow, pang, grief), 
Love (yellow, cotton, soothe), 
Parenting (grace, struggle, miracle), 
Old age (ease, insouciance, I-Made-It-This-Far-So-What-The-Hell-I-Got-To-Worry-About?)

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote 

“To be a misfit in society obliges one to search for some personally-resonant truth; and that truth, in turn, can become a gift to society.”

The last line of your autobiography would be…

 What made you interested your genre -

Links:
Twitter handle: @SethMullins1

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WhatCaststheShadow

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1189710.Seth_Mullins


Amazon link: amazon.com/author/sethmullins

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