I once had the pleasure of sharing a panel with Lawrence C. Connolly at MARcon in 2010. He is definitely someone who knows writing, and later having this chance to interview him was an honor.
1. What is the Veins cycle about?
It’s about making bad choices . . . and then struggling to make them right. It’s about the scars that industry has left upon the land and the sacrifices that our species may need to make in order to heal those wounds. It’s about a young man named Axle who one night finds himself running for his life through an abandoned surface mine. It’s about the spirits of the earth deciding to take back what is theirs.
The cycle is composed of three books, each taking place within a span of eight hours. Veins (2008) opens about 10:00 on a Sunday night in August. Vipers (2010) opens around 6:00 the following morning. Vores (scheduled for 2012) runs from 2:00 that afternoon to 10:00 that night. Thus, together, the books chronicle a single 24 hour day – a period of time that loops back on itself like a tail-eating snake.
2. I noticed you did a bit of research on the Iroquois for these books.
Actually, the research centered on an Iroquoian language that was once wide spread in western Pennsylvania. Part of Veins is told from the point of view of a woman who heard the language as a child. Now, as an old woman, pieces of that language are coming back to her, first in her dreams, then in waking reveries that may be manifestations of a failing mind or visions from the spirit realm. She tries explaining what she sees using that ancient language, but we soon sense that the visions are from a place beyond language . . . beyond legend. This impression is compounded in Vipers, when similar visions elicit completely different interpretations. It’s all part of a central mystery that will come to a head in the final book.
3. How did you come up with the idea of doing a soundtrack?
I knew that FE Books was interested in branching into other media, and, when they picked up Veins, I asked them if they’d be interested in having my band put together a CD of music inspired by the book. I sent them a demo – a five-minute track called “Axle Rising” – and they must have liked what they heard, because a short time later I had a contract to produce the CD, which I did over the summer of 2008.
The tracks are mostly instrumentals, with a couple of spoken word performances featuring stories from my collection Visions (also from FE Books).
I play all the guitars on the CD, and each track features at least one riff played with a sonic pick – a device that creates long, sustained notes. The result is a variety of sounds that are not instantly recognizable as those of a guitar. Take the CD’s first cut, for example. That flute that kicks in about half way through isn’t a flute. It’s a guitar. Or listen to “Downhill Run.” That Theremin in the coda is a guitar as well.
The only other instruments on the CD are bass-and-drums, with a few vocal chants and keyboard thrown in on “Axle Rising.”
Overall, we were going for a basic, handmade rock sound, as opposed to something that gave the impression it was keyed in using a digital program.
Likewise, the sound-design elements – footsteps on pavement, revving engines, squealing tires – were all recorded live. Nothing was computer generated or taken from stock.
On the track titled “68 Fastback,” we were going to overlay the music with roars from a Mustang engine until we found a Dodge Viper that revved in the key of A. So we used those sounds instead, took that Viper out to an abandoned construction site and recorded the revs and burnouts there. It was a blast.
I’m hoping the disk sells well enough for FE to green light a follow up disk. We’ll see. In the meantime, any readers interested in supporting such endeavors might give a listen at iTunes or pick up the CD directly from FE Books (see the links below).
4. Has music ever helped with your writing or in coming up with ideas, and have storylines ever inspired songs?
My writing mix consists mainly of new-age jazz, techno, and club music – with heavy emphasis on the German band Tangerine Dream.
Other than the tracks on Veins: the Soundtrack (which are instrumentals, not songs), I can’t say that I’ve ever had a storyline inspire a song. Nevertheless, I do have a new story out in the anthology Darkness On The Edge (PS Publishing), which features fiction inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen. My story was inspired by “Murder Incorporated.”
5. What else is coming down the pipeline that you want your readers to know about?
Earlier this year, Ash-Tree Press released my horror collection This Way To Egress at World Horror in Brighton. Next year, FE Books plans to release another collection titled Voices, which will contain some of my favorite stories from the last 30 years, a half dozen new stories, and about 10,000 words of memoir about living and working in the horror genre.
After that comes Vores, the final book in the VEINS CYCLE.
I also have a new “Daughters of Prime” novelette that I’m working on for F&SF . . . and a full-length novel version of that series that I really hope to have finished soon.
6. Where online can people find you at and, just as important, where can they buy your stuff?
They can find me at:
They can buy my stuff wherever good books are sold, but it’s always nice to order direct from the publishers or from small independent booksellers. To that end, I recommend shopping at the following:
THIS WAY TO EGRESS:
Vipers is the sequel to Veins, that other awesome crime drama/horror that starts with the letter V. And something tells me a third book is likely in the works where the title is a single word that starts with the letter, V, too. Time will tell.
As for this particular vindicating piece of vivacious dark valiance involving the characters we’ve grown to love (and love to hate) in the previous book, all I can say is bravo! Very good!
Connolly keeps the pace going from beginning to end. Although there are some moments where the pace slows, it’s not to the point where you want to put the book down. Far from it. You just want to read more.
And the best part about the story is there’s snakes. Lots and lots of snakes. Which probably explains why the book is called Vipers….
Overall the story is great, with good dialogue, cool characters, and a plot that keeps you breathlessly anticipating what will happen next. I’m looking forward to the next installment of the Veins Cycle.
Best to Read while listening to: the Veins soundtrack. Duh.
Perfect for cyberpunk.