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.
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