[GdM] Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Our reviewer really enjoyed reading about Gehirn in Beyond Redemption (link to review). Gehirn's abilities and craziness, the undead army of assassin corpses, the sociopath that feeds on the organs of those who worship him, and Stehlen who killed anyone without any remorse provided a really enjoyable cast of dark characters in a truly gritty and dark world. Beyond Redemption was right up our alley. Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write Beyond Redemption?
[MRF] Wow. You make it sound kinda dark when you put it like that.
Okay. Me. Uh... For over a decade and a half I worked as an audio engineer mixing live bands (over 10,000 bands in that time) and recording albums. If anyone defines the delusional, it's musicians. Actually, probably all artists. Your grip on reality has to be a little shaky if you believe playing badly written two chord songs on an out of tune acoustic guitar will lead to fame and fortune. You have to be outright bugfuck crazy if you're so certain about the fame and fortune you do it over and over, playing the same shitty songs night after night. Much like you have to be at least a little unstable if you spend a year locked in your bedroom writing a novel about insane people and do so thinking it will sell to a major publisher.
At some point I realized most of the successful musicians I interacted with were sociopaths of one hue or another. That may have coloured my thinking.
[GdM] The book has all the elements that are considered the bread and butter of the grimdark subgenre -- a grim story in a dark world told by morally ambiguous protagonists. Do you see your book as grimdark? Have you had much exposure to the subgenre before and what are your views on it?
[MRF] I absolutely understand why people are calling Beyond Redemption grimdark. That said, I'd never heard the term until my agent referred to it as such. I had to google it before I understood what she was talking about. I had a moment of, 'how dare you label me!' but I got over it.
One look at the list of writers being labelled as grimdark, and I was sold. Anything putting me in the same sentence as Joe Abercrombie, Anthony Ryan, or Mark Lawrence can't be bad; these guys are writing the best fantasy out there!
[GdM] In Beyond Redemption you created characters that could use different types of insanity to manipulate reality. How much research did you have to do on mental disorders to bring realism to this character? And how did it help you in furthering the plot of the story?
[MRF] Having no background in psychiatry, I had to do quite a lot of research to get a feel for the various mental disorders. The fun part was deciding how each would manifest and twist reality.
In a way, the insanity is the story. I do almost no pre-plotting or planning. I had a situation in mind and then threw this cast of messed up characters into it. I don't decide in advance how anything will end. Instead, I try and figure out what each character would do in their situation and then write it. If I write myself into a corner (it happens a lot) then those characters better be awful creative and figure some way out. Or I kill 'em.
I suppose that's a fairly schizophrenic way of writing a book about insanity.
[GdM] Mental illness is a central theme in this book, was it easier or more difficult writing Bedeckt as more of a normal kind of person?
[MRF] Bedeckt is that pillar of stone standing just off the shore. Day after day relentless waves of insanity crash against him. In a world where belief defines reality, he is manically sane, psychotically sane.
In a book of crazy people I needed a sane character to balance the others. I think he did a good job.
[GdM] Was the mental illness theme a comment on society, a representation of something in your life, or just something you wanted to explore?
[MRF] Yes, yes, and yes. I'd rather people decided for themselves what the book is about so I won't comment on that. But I did spend a fair amount of time interacting with a sociopath and that definitely influenced the book. It's amazing how someone so glib and charming can also be utterly self-centred.
Others have written about reality being influence by belief, but I was unaware of anyone taking it in this direction. Once the idea gelled, I just had to explore it.
[GdM] What does the concept of the Afterdeath mean to you compared to our modern concept of the afterlife?
[MRF] The Afterdeath is an amalgamation of different concepts of the afterlife stolen from several cultures. Those whom you slay must serve, what you carry on your body makes the journey with you, etc.
Because Beyond Redemption is so focussed on a particular type of character you don't get a feel for the wider picture. There are in fact many Afterdeaths; not everyone follows the Warrior's Credo. Heavens and hells abound. It all depends on what you believe. There will be more on this in future books.
[GdM] The world of Beyond Redemption has a very clear German inspiration in the language. What made you choose this? Was is a cool difference or was there further meaning behind it?
[MRF] Initially it was the sound and look of German that drew me. If you want dark and gritty, what's better than German?
There is definitely further meaning. Sometimes. Maybe.
I think it should be noted that none of the characters in the book speak German.
[GdM] This book left our reviewer wanting more. When do your fans get to find out the next piece of the story? What can they expect?
[MRF] Good! That was definitely the plan. I've got the next two books written (working titles, The Mirror's Truth, and The All Consuming) and I'm currently editing them. TMT is a sequel to Beyond Redemption and TAC involves a whole new cast of characters. Lot's of new craziness to explore.
The two story lines will come together like the most horrendous train-wreck in a future book. The awesome folks at Harper Voyager haven't even seen these yet so I can't possibly guess as to when they might be released.
[GdM] Note to readers: if you want a taste of the stuff Mike can put up, head on over to his website and check out the free short stories he has up there. You can also follow him on Twitter @FletcherMR.
Michael's coming release, Beyond Redemption, can be ordered through the following links:
Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.
His novel, Beyond Redemption, a work of dark fantasy and rampant delusion, is being published by HARPER Voyager and is slated for release June 16th, 2015.
His début novel, 88, was released by Five Rivers Publishing and tastes like dystopia with a dash of cyberpunk. 88 is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and elsewhere.
The next two Manifest Delusions novels, The All Consuming and The Mirror’s Truth, have been written and are currently in editing.