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September 27, 2007

Book Notes - Jeff Somers ("The Electric Church")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.

When I was in high school, I read a fair amount of science fiction and fantasy. Heinlein, Tolkien, Asimov... even Terry Brooks made up my reading list for a couple of months until I lost interest in the genres and developed a love for literary fiction. As I grew older, I began to realize that genre is less important than the writing, but I still haven't read many SF/F books, so I was excited to see Jeff Somers' The Electric Church in my mail. A longtime admirer of his zine The Inner Swine, I was impressed by the striking cover illustration as well as a chance to return to my science fiction roots, if only temporarily.

The Electric Church is a dark tale of a near dystopian future. Fast-paced and engrossing, this story of an assassin hired by the government to kill the head of a radical, powerful church is a thriller wrapped in science fiction.

In his own words, here is Jeff Somers' Book Notes essay for his novel, The Electric Church:

When I wrote the very first draft of The Electric Church, I was nineteen years old, and every chapter of the book had a title taken from your standard hard-rock lineup: AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, heck, I think there might have been a lamentable Styx lyric in there. Several drafts and some indeterminate amount of time—much of it lost to the bottom of bottles and thus a mystery to me—later, my taste in music has expanded if not improved, and while my chapter titles are no longer taken from a fifteen-year-old's mix tape, the book definitely has a soundtrack. An awkward, inappropriate soundtrack, but still.

Mother Love Bone, Stargazer

The Love Theme for Avery Cates, the aging assassin at the core of the story. This song was my main stare into the night and contemplate the barren, twisted ruin of my love life back in college, and to this day has the power to make me burst into girlish tears. In the quiet, unseen, contemplative moments in-between murders and bullying sessions, I imagined Avery stares into the night and contemplates as well. . .and hears this song in his head, somehow. Oh, Stargazer, you call the shots indeed, and I'll take them.

The Descendents, Suburban Home

This is a great writing song to put on repeat, drink something cheap and throat-burning, put on a pair of terrible plastic sunglasses, and dance around to. Not that I would ever admit I do that. I also do that to Matthew Sweet's Sick of Myself, burrowing down into a hole of self-loathing so wonderful and complete words just fall out of your hands.

Iron Maiden, Two Minutes to Midnight

The greatest. Song. Ever. Bar none. You can write action sequences to this endless dual-lead-guitar gem until your hands fall off. Fun fact: Every movie fight sequence ever filmed can be synchronized to this song. Go ahead, try it. You might need to drink a little first. It seems to help.

Too Much Joy, Death Ray Machine

A more obscure song I'd be hard-pressed to come up with, and it isn't exactly a soundtrack song—just a great song to listen to while writing, mainly for the classic Tim Quirk lyrics: I want to change the world, but I can't even change myself. . .I pointed my death ray machine the wrong way. This actually applies to every Too Much Joy song ever written—this is the band, after all, who wrote the line They say they built this fort two thousand years ago / A man named James carved his name here in 1983 / Congratulations, James—now you're a dick for eternity.

Elvis Presley, Suspicious Minds

Which I am listening to right now. It's a great I've-just-had-six-whiskeys-and-will-regret-this-tomorrow kind of song.

NOFX, The Desperation's Gone

This is my Scorsese, dolly-shot-along-the-bar song. Whenever I'm imagining a lengthy scene which just establishes setting and introduces characters, this is the song I have in my head. Well, most of the time. Sometimes it's something less appropriate, like the new Rhianna song I just heard on the radio and can't get out of my head no matter what I try. Writing is hard when that happens, as my cast of killers and scum start dancing and holding hands.

Jeff Somers and The Electric Church links:

the author's website and blog
the book's website
the book's page at the publisher
an excerpt from the book
the author's zine

Alternative Worlds review
Fantasy Book Critic review
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist review
Sci Fi Weekly review
SF Diplomat review
SF Site review

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)

Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
directors and actors discuss their film's soundtracks
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)


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