Lightning Round Guest Post with Michael R. Fletcher

BR Cover with blurb
The darkest fantasy book I’ve ever read? Most definitely. Not for the faint of heart.

Today my blog gets a bit darker. Mostly because I’ve offered up the challenge of the gods to Michael R. Fletcher, author of the disturbing, grim, and all around awesome book Beyond Redemption. Much like we do on The Grim Tidings Podcast (of which Michael was a past guest), the Lightning Round allows folks to riff on a word or a group of words and see what they come up with. Michael’s answers shall not disappoint. So let’s ride the lightning, baby! And of course pick up Beyond Redemption today. If you like your books with a dark edge, you’ll be in hog heaven. I’m currently reading it and I’ll be posting a review here on the blog when I wrap it up. My thoughts as of now are “Holy shit, this is dark. Oh wait, that was darker. This book is full of insanity. I love insanity.”

Take it away, Michael!

1. Grimdark

Apparently I accidentally wrote a grimdark novel. Who knew! I mean, I thought I was writing dark fantasy. Maybe dark epic fantasy if the book was long enough. And what the hell is this crap where all of a sudden we’re gong backward in time and calling shit grimdark? Game of Thrones is grimdark? The Black Company is grimdark? No retroactively labelling shit as grimdark! I forbid it! And have you noticed how, if a book is particularly cool or does something interesting, it too gets tossed in the grimdark pile?

2. Battleaxes

Fuck. Yes.

I am ashamed to say I don’t own one. If I did, it would be a monstrous two-bladed Snaga kinda thing. If you can’t chop at least two and a half people down with a single swing you need a bigger axe. Druss is, was, and will forever be the axe man. It’s like Gemmell robbed everyone of the chance to write a really cool axe man. It’s been done and you’ll never do it as well as he did. I’m not bitter—okay, fine, I’m bitter.

3. Maggots

There’s a scene in The All Consuming (third book—fingers crossed—in the Manifest Delusions series) that my main test-reader said was too much, too disgusting. I call bullshit. It’s what had to happen. What?

4. Undead steeds

Awesome! They never tire and when you’re being peppered with arrows you have something handy to hide behind. The real beauty with a dead horse is found in covering it with plate barding. This is the true tank of fantasy warfare. Throw in the bonus terror factor and you’re gold. If you’re really going for the gold, undead elephants in plate armour.

5. Skulls

I have a pact with a buddy. Whoever lives the longest gets the other’s skull. Totally true.

Based on my lifestyle I’m guessing he’ll be getting my skull.

6. Goats

I grew up on a bunch of farms littered about southern Ontario. Of all the animals I dealt with I hate goats the least. They’re fairly smart, playful, and will totally head-butt your ass if they think you aren’t looking. Goat cheese however is another deal. That stuff tastes likes goat ass smells. And I’ve been around enough goats—shovelled enough goat shit—to know what I’m talking about. Goat cheese is something you feed to people you are trying to drive from your home.

“But it’s got such a lovely gamey flavour!”

Oh fuck off. Goat cheese only becomes edible when you’re so intoxicated your taste buds are lying drunk in the bottom of a whiskey bottle.

7. Bloated Tree Demons

Iron Maiden.

8. Greatest Swordsman

One of my favourite characters from Beyond Redemption. Wichtig (the self-proclaimed Greatest Swordsman in the World) is based on someone I knew. I’d go so far as to call him a friend in spite of the fact he was mildly sociopathic.

Ah the lessons I learned. Many of them are littered about Beyond Redemption as philosophical quotes:

“When faced with a Gefahrgeist (sociopath), set aside your honesty. Truth will be turned against you. Today’s truth will be tomorrow’s lie and you will be left questioning your own sanity. This too is manipulation … Gefahrgeist often wear the mask of sanity. This makes them dangerous. This makes them successful …”

Discovering that your own emotions, your most heart felt beliefs in what it is to be a friend (loyalty and trust) can be so casually turned against you…it’s an amazing lesson. You can either let it make you dark, untrusting, and alone, or you can let it strengthen your friendships with those people who are worthy.

9. Pyromania

Rise up, gather round
Rock this place to the ground
Burn it up let’s go for broke
Watch the night go up in smoke
Rock on, rock on
Drive me crazier

No serenade, no fire brigade

Just a pyromania

10. OCD

Oversold. What’s the difference between OCD and deciding something is important? The one thing all geeks share is a willingness to love something with great intensity and not give a shit what others think. I can see how this too could be mistaken for OCD.

It takes along time to figure out who you are. At least it took me a long time. Once you understand yourself labels like OCD become meaningless. If it’s working in your favour, helping you get what you want, embrace it. If it’s fucking up your life, you do what you need to do to fix it.

People treat labels like an excuse, like, oh my god I have OCD it’s not my fault. Suck it up buttercup. If it’s a problem for you, do something about it. But don’t let someone else decide if it’s a problem.

11. Giant cobras

Much like Indiana Jones, I hate snakes. Imagine a phobic with a fear of giant slithering death-adders in a land where one’s fears and delusions manifest as reality.

12. Look What the Cat Dragged In

We always had cats. They used to leave us offerings of dead mice and birds on our windowsills. Sometimes they’d eat them first, puke ’em up semi-digested, and then leave ’em at the window. I love cats. Even the cutest one is a nasty little killing machine.

13. Thunder gods

Tlaloc. I’m in the middle of researching the gods and religion of the Atzec so I can absolutely fuck it up and take it somewhere dark in my next book. It’s too early to talk about beyond that. The book has been named and I know where it will take place and who the main victims players will be.

14. Star Wars

Desperate hope. Please don’t fuck it up.

15. Koalas

I spent six months backpacking along the east coast of Australia when I was nineteen and I can’t remember seeing a single Koala. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of that trip. I remember a lot of fantastic beer and a country of friendly people more than willing to take in a wandering reprobate like myself.

16. Beyond Redemption

It is not for me to decide whether or not someone is beyond redemption. It is however for me to decide whether I spend any time with them. One of the greatest lessons I learned as a youth was that people can’t be saved (and I don’t mean that in a religious sense). You can give folks a helping hand, but unless they want to better themselves, to drag their butts out of whatever midden pit they’ve sunk into, all your efforts will be wasted. This is one of the themes of Beyond Redemption: It isn’t that people are beyond redemption, it’s that they so rarely choose to redeem themselves.

When I wrote Beyond Redemption I did so thinking only a few of my closest friends would read it. I thought it was too fucked up to sell. I ignored and/or broke virtually every rule about writing good escapist literature. My characters are all psychotic dirt-bags, no one learns anything or becomes a better person. I tortured a child in terrible ways and the plot is nowhere near sane. I think that’s why people find it ‘unpredictable’. While writing I’d get into the head-space of whatever character I was writing and allow them to make decisions. As I had no plot-outline to follow, I didn’t worry about where things went. I wasn’t writing a plot, I was writing what happened. The real world doesn’t follow nice plot arcs and neither did I. If it worked, I’m stunned.

Now what I find interesting is the people contacting me and saying “Wow, I really related to character X,” or, “after reading your book I went to the wiki to help me figure out what my delusions are.”

I’m not sure if I should be touched or terrified.

MRFLETCHERAbout Michael R. Fletcher

Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author. His novel, Beyond Redemption, a work of dark fantasy and rampant delusion, was published by HARPER Voyager in 2015.

His début novel, 88, a cyberpunk tale about harvesting children for their brains, was released by Five Rivers Publishing in 2013.

The next two Manifest Delusions novels, The Mirror’s Truth, and The All Consuming, are currently in various stages of editing while Michael tries to be the best husband and dad he can be.

Michael is represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

About Beyond Redemption:

Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn’t an axiom, it’s a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.

Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to become a god. A god they can control.

But there are many who would see this would-be-god in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one can resist. Three reprobates—The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left—have their own nefarious plans for the young god.

As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one more obstacle: time is running out. When one’s delusions become more powerful, they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is:

Who will rule there?

Thanks for all your awesome answers, Michael! Keep an eye out for him, folks. You can find him on Facebook and the Twitter Death Machine.