Today I am pleased to welcome author A.F. Henley to the blog. A.F. is here to talk about a new release, Sonata, available July 17th from Less Than Three Press. A.F. has also brought a copy to give away to one lucky winner, so be sure to leave a comment below. Please join me in giving A.F. a big welcome!
There have probably been a million blogs written about music along the way. But one can hardly write a novel, entitle it Sonata, and not do at least one post that mentions music.
From the author interviews that I’ve been reading lately, I am an anomaly when it comes to music and writing. And while I admit that I am sensitive to most noises while I’m concentrating (and by sensitive I mean that I’ve considered serious physical harm for nothing more obtrusive than a squeaking chair in the next room), nothing distracts me to the degree that music can. But there’s a reason for that.
The issue is that music is a sensory escape for me; any type of harmonic sound, in fact. I want to hear every nuance, every modulation and intonation, every change in rhythm and lilt in chord. I focus on how long a note gets held and when the performer dips his or her voice. This requires a surprising amount of concentration and attention to detail (at least for my particularly dense brain.) In simple terms, I just can’t focus on anything else when I’m listening to a sound that I find pleasant. It holds my complete attention.
For example, I’m an avid follower (read: psychotic fan) of an author that will occasionally host live read-along sessions on Skype. She’s a brilliant storyteller and is one of those people that can do things with her voice that border on the Siren-esque. As she narrates, while the chat goes wild with praise and adulation, I, on the other hand, go completely silent. I’ve got my eyes closed, my hands behind my head and my chair tilted back to dangerous levels so that I can focus on the sound of voice and inflection. I do the same with music. It’s a wonderful way to listen to something. But for obvious reasons, the pose and the mental drifting make for an extremely unproductive environment to write.
I am fortunate, however, that for me sound sensitivity is nothing more than a quirk. Would I stop writing altogether if my partner refused to give up the squeaky chair or insisted on playing concertos every time I sat down in front of my keyboard? Probably not. I may find myself researching ways to bind and immobilize an unsuspecting person in a hurry, but I would find a way to deal without crumpling into a disaster of nervous twitches. That’s not the case for everyone though.
Sound appreciation, sound sensitivity, and/or sound obsession, is a common issue in people that suffer from any one of the various labels of autism. In Sonata, my littlest hero, Cole, suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. And as such he not only has an aversion to certain sounds but a fascination for others. Resonance/reverberation/echo is one of the sounds that seem to be, for the most part, pleasantly received. Researchers believe that these sounds are in utero reminiscent: a mother’s heartbeat through the walls of the womb, the ebb of blood, the distant echo of her voice. It’s no wonder that a child would draw comfort from that particular timbre of noise. A similar timbre, in fact, to what’s obtained through the resonation and echo of a pipe-organ or a piano. It is that instrument, the piano, that Cole ends up finding fascinating.
The piano infatuation aside though, Cole reacts extremely negatively to harsh sounds – the rap of knuckles on wood, a holler, or heavy footsteps. It’s been suggested by certain researchers that autistic sufferers are so finely tuned to sound that they find some of them painful. To the degree, in fact, that certain areas of hearing are actually shut down in the very early stages; a concept that they believe may explain the resultant failure of comprehension and communication on some level. I’ll save myself the angry comments and rebukes by stating right off the bat that I have no personal stand on this being fact, nor deny that there may be potential in it. I am, after all, a simple author and not a doctor.
I do find it interesting however, that a being can find a stimulant to be both horrific and soothing at the same time, depending on its cadence. Although, perhaps it’s just a more complicated preference, the way some people love classical music but despise metal. It’s all music, but as my father will happily tell anyone willing to listen, it is most definitely not the same thing. (He’ll be sure to tell you to “turn the godawful thing down” at the same time. Loudly. And insistently.)
But let’s set Dad’s ranting aside and meet Cole instead:
Neither Jordan nor Ian took a breath as Cole’s hands began to slink towards the keys. A single note reverberated from the piano and a huff that could have been amusement, could have been just an extended breath, puffed out from between Cole’s lips.
“Try this,” Ian set his hands on the keyboard. “Doesn’t matter where, just follow the pattern I’m using on the keys and keep the same distances between them. Use the same rhythm if you can, okay?”
One note at a time, Ian began to pick out the keys of the scale.
Within a minute Cole had mastered it. Within five he had memorized “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” From there it just got easier.
One of the most beautiful photos I’ve ever found to represent the fascination with resonant sound as it relates to autistic children is Timothy Archibald’s nineteenth pic in his Echolilia series. I have no rights to his images, of course, so I will not include it in this post. I will, however, happily link you to his official site and direct you towards the “echolilia” section. The entire set has some amazing pictures, but photo #19 fascinates me. (I’d give you the direct link but it doesn’t want to work for me.)
Also, for those who want to know more about autism.
And for those who want to know how they can help.
And, finally, for those who’d like to know a little more about the novel:
M/M Contemporary Erotic Romance (44,000 words)
At thirty-six Ian feels done with the world. When a night at a bar goes as poorly as expected, he wants only to return home to be miserable in peace. Instead, he encounters Jordan. Hot, young and interested, Jordan is everything Ian’s ever wanted and nothing he believes himself capable of actually obtaining.
Jordan has enough going on in his life trying to scrape together a living for himself and his autistic son. When he meets Ian, all he wants is a brief, erotic moment and nothing else.
But fate throws them together again and again, and Ian finds himself determined to do whatever it takes to give their story a happy ending – no matter what secrets Jordan’s past has waiting for him.
Available on pre-order at a 15% discount until July 16th
Official release: July 17th
Purchase Sonata here
About the Author
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica. Henley shares a home in rural Southern Ontario with both life partner and a plethora of furry, scaled and winged rescue friends.
A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly working with LT3 since 2012, when Înflori made its debut, and is thrilled to add two more novel titles, Honour and Sonata, as well as two anthology stories, Rockaybe and MEMWARS! to the docket for 2013.
Backlist, upcoming releases, fanart, fiction links and contact info are all available at afhenley.com.
As a thanks to Joyfully Jay for hosting me today, and in appreciation for all of you that have read: Win an ebook copy of Sonata
Is there any sound/smell/sight/emotion that can destroy your creative mojo every time? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and let me know what kills your muse. All commenters will be entered in a randomly chosen draw for a copy of Sonata, in the electronic version of their choice.
Thanks for the visit. And, as always, keep a smile on your face and a symphony in your heart.
AF Henley <3
Note: The contest will close on Thursday, July 18th at 11:59 pm EST.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
- If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
- Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
- Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
- By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
- Readers may only enter once for each contest. Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
- Void where prohibited by law.
Thank you so much for hosting, Jay!
Not only does A.F. always spin one helluva tale, I never fail to learn something valuable along the way…and this time is certainly no exception. In writing, one of the very first pieces of advice we are given is to ‘write what you know’ and so I was immediately intrigued by the choice of subject matter. My own contact with autistic children has been extremely limited…but I remember being humbled by the wisdom behind those four year old eyes. It literally made me want to ask: ‘What do you know that I do not?”
Muse killers? The barking dog down the block and a number of people (sadly, in the writing circle I frequent) who never fail to put me on edge.
Thanks for the kind words, Marty. And I agree wholeheartedly on both the barking dog whilst trying to write and how frustrating it can be to work with other people. Good luck on the giveaway and thank you so much for sharing that! 😀
Thank you so much for a really interesting post. The book sounds great and I would love a chance to win. As for sounds that are muse killers: the teenagers who live downstairs from me screaming at each other and slamming doors. Makes me crazy and unable to concentrate. Also, the sound of anything buzzing around – I can’t stand insects in the house and I’m ridiculously afraid of bees. Nothing can get done until I figure out what is making that sound.
Thanks for the comment and the interest, Antonia! Slamming doors are a teeth-grinder for me too. Insects are a weird sound for me personally. I can’t stand it if I’m concentrating, but if I’m lying back relaxing, it tends to be soothing. Unless it’s a mosquito. Then I’ll hunt that poor bugger down until I find it. 😀
Best of luck in the giveaway!
It really makes me stop here and think about how much thought has gone into this subject matter. For one thing really wanting to enjoy and embrace every single tune from a sound, diving into it, excluding everything else shows so much care and appreciation and allows entry into the realm of imagination at a level closed to others who would simply hear a sound or just music.
So much thoughtfulness and imagination is the premise to approach such a topic with all the dignity it requires while keeping the overall story highly entertaining. From his previous novels “Înflori” and “Honour”, I know if anyone can make it work, it is A.F. Henley.
Sounds, music, colours can have such an impact on our daily life. Be it for better or worse. And most of us are lucky that we are able to shut out the unwanted ones. I wonder what the world must feel like when one can’t. When they can really cause joy and pain on such intense levels most of us don’t experience and one is not able to communicate that to the outside world. I can’t help asking myself if the (more or less) ignorance we often show to those effects makes us the ones to be pittied in a way. And here I have to follow Marty, wondering “What do you know that I do not?”
Thank you so much, Raphael! Always a pleasure to hear from you. Communication is so very hard on any level. I give a lot of kudos to anyone dealing with autism on any branch of the condition. It seems like such a brutal experience to not know the right way to be, the proper things to say, or be able to provide expected behaviour. Thank you for the awesome musings and best of luck on the giveaway! 😀
Love this post to death. It’s amazing how the same things can be perceived so differently to different people. As weird as this sounds, some days I can’t wear jackets with zippers. I keep imagining the teeth of the zipper scraping over my own teeth and the resultant screech and vibrations. It’s strange, but it’ll drive me crazy throughout the whole day. Some days I wear zippers and never notice. *shrugs* I also can’t stand the noise that old tube tvs make. That high-pitched whining that the majority of people never seem to even notice….
Thanks, Ashley! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. 😀
I can completely understand what you’re saying about zippers — it reminds me of a friend’s reaction to crunching tinfoil. He says that he can feel it in his blood when he hears the sound. It’s bizarre how different we all are considering the similarities in our design. Thanks for sharing and lots of luck with the giveaway!
I really appreciate a well-researched novel, and this one certainly qualifies. I think most people have some level of sensitivity to music and sounds, but most of us filter them out, as we are trained to do in school. The sound that I find most annoying is television. With few exceptions, it actually gives me a headache. Needless to say, I don’t subscribe to any form of TV. I only use it to watch DVDs.
Thanks you so much for the kinds words. I hope the novel proves that qualification to be truth. 😀
We’re on the same page with television. When my partner and I moved five-some years ago, we opted not to hook up the existing satellite service and cable wasn’t an option. So we only use ours for DVDs as well. And short of a squeaking chair, a television going in the background is as devastating to my ability to write as a radio. XD
Thanks for the comment and good luck with the giveaway!
There are many things that would kill my creativity, but I can think of one right off the bat. Burnt food. I can not stand burnt food, the smell nor the taste. Until the smell leaves the house, all I can think about is how bad the air smells.
Ah! I came across olfactory intolerance in my research and I have to admit that I found it extremely interesting. That and my brain jumps into musings about past life experiences and what have you about the concept of burning. (Occasionally I get carried away with things like that.) Thanks so much for your comment, I really appreciate it. Good luck on the giveaway! 😀
I always startled easily at noises as a kid, but I guess that’s not the same thing. For me, if I hear a song I can’t stand being played somewhere (like a store), I can’t function. The damn thing just takes over my life until it’s over, and if I’m lucky it won’t plague my thoughts all day. R. Crumb mentioned the exact same issue in an interview once–his wife can’t understand why he can’t just tune it out or forget it. (Neither can my mom.) Yikes…
There is nothing worse than having a song stuck in your head if it happens to be a song you can’t stand. Why do they have so much sticking power?! Sometimes they can’t even be chased off by playing songs you do enjoy. I’ve often wondered why the things we dislike in life take forefront over the things we do like. Frustrating brains we humans have, indeed. Thanks so much for taking part in the giveaway and best of luck! 😀
Thanks for the awesome post! I’ve already preordered Sonata so I don’t need to be entered into the contest, but I will answer the question anyway. I can’t write when listening to music with lyrics, or TV in the background, or overhearing conversation. Music with no lyrics? No sweat. I can get absorbed in the music even if it has no words but I can also compartmentalize if there are no words distracting from the words I’m trying to get down.
Really looking forward to reading Sonata in just a few days!
Thank you so much for pre-ordering! I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it. Really appreciate it and I’m thrilled that you still stopped by and left a comment! 😀
I’ve not tried the music without lyrics. That might be something I’m going to put up for experimentation. (All about the experimentation I am. XD)
Thank you so much for having me. It’s always a pleasure to visit with you all. 😀
As a huge fan of Honour, I’m very interested in this one. Doing anything by ear is a weakness of mine so I’m amazed by the people who can make music. I generally don’t go for music without lyrics but there are a few I really go for.
Thanks, Issa! I’m thrilled you enjoyed Honour and I truly hope this new one lives up to the same standards then. 😀
I have to agree with you on musicians. I can stand and watch a street performer for hours. Thanks so much for the comment and good luck with the giveaway!
I can definitely relate to the topic of your book. My son was diagnosed borderline Aspergers when he was 10 (though I think they misdiagnosed him) and I myself have issues with sounds, mostly repetitive and depending on volume or timbre. For the most part, I can tune them out, but sometimes, these sounds, if persistent enough, can drive me insane.
My most heartfelt respect for everything you, your son, and your family have gone through. I hope things are working the best that can be expected.
I had a thought, as I was reading your comment, of the distant sound of bass in a car that’s parked too close and idling. You know that low, thunk-thunk-thunk, where that’s the only sound you hear? Grrrrr… XD
Thanks for sharing with that. I hope if you get a chance to read the novel that the characters come across as believable for you. Good luck with the giveaway!
I know the sound you’re referring to… or the sound of a helicopter hovering in the distance (I live near a coast guard base).
Thank you. My son is a great person. Personally, I don’t believe he has Aspergers, but I don’t deny that he has… something. He’s the quirkiest and most brilliant person I know which in turn makes me feel very inferior lol I know he has a hard road ahead of him, because of the way his mind works. Most people don’t understand him. Even I have a hard time sometimes. But I wouldn’t change him for the world. I just hope he’ll find a good use for his abilities.
And I’m sure they will. You did a great job with Inflori. I don’t doubt this one will be just as good.
I have no doubt that your son is an awesome person. And quirky just makes him that much more interesting. He’ll be brilliant.
And thank you so much for the kind words on Înflori. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. 😀
Thanks for the giveaway. To answer your question, I can’t focus on writing if I listen to music that I want to sing along with. I can’t write and sing at the same time….
Thank you for the comment, Cynthia! I know what you mean, completely!
Best of luck with the contest. 😀
This seems like a really good book. Please count me in. Thank you both for an interesting and insightful guest post! For me, too many noises at the same time tend to knock my focus away from me. Congratulations on your publication!
Thank you so much for the thoughtful and supportive comment, Marie! I would love to hear what you think about Sonata if/when you get a chance to read it. Here’s hoping you don’t have to focus in a busy office or a house full of kids. I cringe to imagine it. XD
Good luck on the giveaway! 😀
It isn’t sounds so much as vibrations that really bother me. A base speaker turned up too high, the spin cycle on the washing machine shaking the floor, or even a car engine rumbling by. When things vibrate like that I can’t think clearly and I get a headache.
Your book sounds absolutely beautiful. I’m looking forward to reading it!
Thank you so much for saying so, Mell! I’m thrilled to hear you’re looking forward to it!
And I imagine that vibration sensitivity must go right through your entire system, from bones to blood.
Good luck with the giveaway! 😀
Yup, I’ve already commented once and I’m back for more! But seriously, at work today I thought of something you might be interested in reading, A.F. It’s a free short story on Fictionpress called Words and Their Digestion by seventhswan. I reminds me of the same idea you have here, but with words, written or verbal, rather than just sounds. Amazing little story. You should definitely check it out!
Thanks so much for that, Ashley. I’ll be sure to check it out! 😀
The thing that kills my muse often and quickest are Car alarms, or any alarm in general. Or extremely loud metal rock music…
It’s just… Usually It’s quite or I’m listening to soft music or have the TV on low or something a long those lines and then all of a sudden… BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, WEOW, WEOW, ERR,ERR,ERR… omg… lol..
I loose the mojo I was in for a good hour or two until the sound completely disappears from my mind. XD haha!
Thanks for the contest! :3
Ha! I can totally imagine that! And the concept of it echoing for hours as well. XD
Thank you so much for the comment, Judi and my best wishes for luck in the giveaway! 😀
I don’t have a creative bone in my body, but I found that when I’m focused on a task and am working to complete it. The only thing that can really break my concentration is someone sneaking up on me (either to look at what I’m doing or to intentionally try to spook me).
Thanks for the giveaway!! The blurb sounds excellent. Win or no win, I’m looking forward to reading this book.
Thanks, H.B., really glad you think it sounds interesting!
Yes, the dreaded peer over the shoulder and that “whatcha doin … ?” Argh! XD
Good luck with the contest! 😀
I don’t know if there are any sounds, smells, or sights that kill my muse, but one thing that does every time is distraction. I get distracted very easily, and oftentimes I will start typing a word that sounds perfect for where I’m going, then focus on something else for a second and completely forget what word I was in the middle of. When I write I have to be alone and focused.
Hi, Kit, and thanks so much for your comment! I can relate to needing to be alone and focused, most definitely. Maybe that’s why us writers get such a negative rap for being secluded beasts? XD
To quote a favourite, easily-distracted character … “Squirrel!”
Best of luck with the giveaway. 😀
For me, it is always smell that takes away my concentration. I have a sensitive nose, so I get distracted easily by bad smells. If something’s coming from outside through a vent, if something’s gone bad in the kitchen, whatever; I’m hunting for the source, and being driven a little out of my mind if I a) can’t find it b) can’t stop it from getting to me. The funny part of this is that I used to have the worst sense of smell, and then I swung in the completely opposite direction. Oh, what hormones will do to the body.
Thanks for sharing such interesting information, A, and also for the giveaway!
Thank you for sharing right back, Carolyn, and also for your interest!
Funny story for you, my grandmother used to walk into people’s kitchen and within seconds she’d be announcing, “A potato’s gone bad. Somewhere a potato has gone bad!” And she would then proceed in insisting that the person look, or let her look, to find this evil potato and its accursed odour. XD
Best of luck with the giveaway! 😀
That made me laugh so hard. I SO do that! I only do it in my own home, though, but I certainly do look forward to being the age where I speak my mind about other people’s olfactory intrusions! 😉
Amen to that! lol 😀
The book sounds lovely, thanks for the chance! To answer your question I would have to say the o Oy things that really mess with me are very bright lights, I’m even talking about the backlight on my phone in the dark. Also a very specific combo of scents, I work with babies and one time a baby came in that smelled like cigarette smoke and stale formula spit up. That was my weakness, it was the worst thing I had ever smelled. 🙁
OceanAkers @ aol.com
Thanks for the kind words and the comment, Juliana!
Is there anything sadder than an infant that smells like cigarette smoke? Worse still, that it might not getting the proper care. 🙁 I can see the brain making that into a vile reaction, indeed. Hope everything turned out well.
Good luck with the giveaway! 😀