On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today we celebrate JAMES MORRIS's second win on Kindle Scout with MELOPHOBIA, referred to by Publisher’s Weekly as “a convincing alternative history novel and…an accomplished coming-of-age love story that asks big questions about freedom and expressiveness in the face of oppression.” MELOPHOBIA is up for pre-sale now and is scheduled to launch on September 22, 2015 through Kindle Press.
Melophobia: fear or hatred of music.
The time—now; the place—America, but in a world where the government controls all forms of art and creativity. Any music sowing the seeds of anarchy is banned—destroyed if found—its creators and listeners harshly punished.
Merrin Pierce works as an undercover Patrol officer assigned to apprehend a fugitive musician who threatens the safe fabric of society, only to confront everything she thought to be true – her values, upbringing, job, and future.
Can love survive in a world without music?
And without further ado, here's James:
One of the things that make MELOPHOBIA such a memorable journey is seeing how Kindle Scout made it possible. I was always told by The Powers That Be that books about music were a hard sell in the marketplace; for whatever reason, “those kind of books” didn’t sell, and thus, even sending out the book to editors at traditional publishing houses was seen as a losing proposition. No one took the chance. So, it’s great that crowd-sourcing allowed this story an audience. I’ve always loved it even if it’s a mix of genres, and honestly, I could see it one day adapted to both a movie or even a Broadway show ala WICKED. One can dream, right?
MELOPHOBIA was born when a friend of mine told me he thought the United States was on the brink of a second Civil War during the 1960’s. He believed the US could’ve broken apart due to the influence of popular culture – especially music – in speaking for the disenfranchised younger generation. We’re all familiar with the terrible history: the assassinations, the riots, the counter-culture that the older generation despised and didn’t understand; and of course, an extremely unpopular war. Obviously, a second Civil War never happened, but I thought: what if music did spark a revolution back then? What would’ve happened? That’s the alternate history angle.
I also learned that nailing down the rights to use song lyrics in a manuscript is a Byzantine process. You might think one song lyric would have only one rights holder, but it turns out there are domestic rights-holders as well as foreign rights-holders. So tracking down, querying, waiting, and paying for the rights was a long process that I wouldn’t recommend unless a lyric is absolutely necessary. I felt like a movie producer purchasing the licenses required for the book, and I have an excel spreadsheet to prove it! Some lyrics I couldn’t use or were too expensive, which forced me to find alternative songs, or to cut the lyrics altogether. In the end, the changes actually made the manuscript better.
Once again, I learned that no manuscript, to paraphrase John Donne, is an island. I had input from beta-readers, and my wife is an excellent critique and brainstorm partner. I’m blessed to have talented people around me; they only make me look better!
Finally, the readers. This is my second book, and I don’t know how it will be received. But I’ve learned from my first book WHAT LIES WITHIN that having readers who appreciate the work is an amazing feeling. Writing is not a pragmatic endeavor: it generally doesn’t pay; while many people read, a vast majority don’t; and no one, really, (unless you’re JK Rowling during the height of Harry Potter) is waiting with baited breath for my next project. So, you kind of listen to that voice inside your head, and plunk along, wondering if it’s worth it at all, and then – someone likes your book! And that person recommends it to a friend, and suddenly there’s a conversation going on, and that is deeply gratifying.
James Morris is a former television writer who now works in digital media. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching HOUSE HUNTERS RENOVATION, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles.
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