28 October, 2015

#Interview with Ian Brennan, #Author of Sister Maple Syrup Eyes

About the Author:
Ian Brennan is a GRAMMY-winning record producer and has produced three GRAMMY-nominated records.
He has worked with artists as diverse as country-great Merle Haggard, filmmaker John Waters, Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Fugazi, Green Day, Tinariwen, Kyp Malone & Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio), the Blind Boys of Alabama, Nels Cline (Wilco), and the Vienna Boys Choir, and has repeatedly travelled the world in search of music. Amongst others, he has discovered and produced groups who went onto be the first international releases in the indigenous languages of their respective countries, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Malawi. 
During his leanest years, he supported himself by day working as a counselor in the locked emergency-psychiatric unit for Oakland, California. This led to his becoming a violence prevention “expert”, lecturing on the topic over 100 times annually since 1993, at such organizations as the Betty Ford Center, Bellevue Hospital (NYC), UC Berkeley, and the National Accademia of Science (Rome), as well as on various continents— Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America.
He was a published poet by age 19 and has written about music regularly for Zero Magazine and Guitar Player. He is the author of four published books. The Boston Phoenix called his lyrics,”a model of economical, unpretentious, narrative songwriting,” and the Readers+Writers journal praised his novella, Sister Maple Syrup Eyes as, “A beautiful book. Achingly beautiful.”

Check out the Author's WEBSITE

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I used alternative narratives as a way of coping with personal pain growing up. I lost or spent (depending on what spin one puts on it), gazing out car and classroom windows, and dreaming up relationships and settings— like any stereotypical introvert, I suppose.

What inspires you to write?
Art at it’s best is an empathy-building device and can help break down boundaries between people and regions. There have been many well-crafted lines of poetry that I’ve stumbled on over the years, and through them been instantly been reminded what a miracle it is to be alive.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Though it is a work of literary fiction, the novella Sister Maple Syrup Eyes was inspired by the life-altering experience of my longtime, first girlfriend being beaten horrifically and raped in her own apartment by a family-friend.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I do read pretty voraciously. I used to just raid the public library and literally walk out carrying stacks of poetry books when I was a teenager and young adult. This was back in the days before they limited how many books you could check-out at any one time. These days, I still read on average about a book or more a week, but I go through binges of one a day. And since the early 1990’s I have read almost exclusively non-fiction related to psychology and sociology.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
When rewriting, read everything out loud to yourself, to hear how it sounds. The weaker structures have a way of exposing themselves when spoken.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Be specific and show, don’t tell. Paint with words. Also join a workshop and beg people to be mean and not nice. We tend to often learn most from the harshest critics. Though, understandably it is not a pleasant process, it is worth it in the long run.

How do you spend your free time? 
I have almost none and never really have. But I like it that way, so it’s of my own doing. For me, reading is free time.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
In February 2016, my book will be published about the need for greater attention to be given to international music. It is titled How Music Dies (or Lives): field-recording & the battle for democracy in the arts and is being published by Skyhorse from New York City.

About the Book:

Sister Maple Syrup Eyes is one of the first books published from the historically under-reported perspective on rape: from that of the lesser and oft-forgotten other victim, the individual's partner. With terse lyricism, this novella radiates the anguish of attempting to repair a love and life shattered by violence. Through a series of deliberately concise and untitled chapters, the story erupts in a before/after chasm, culminating with the main character's facing a tentative peace with his past.


Some Reviews:

"I have read no better description than Sister Maple Syrup Eyes of how a rapist humiliates and owns his/her victim, not only during the attack but long afterwards. Everyone should read this moving and poetic book, but especially those who discount the seriousness of rape."
Jody Raphael 
Rape is Rape: How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming Are Fueling a 
Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis 

"Ian Brennan has written a novella that will help make serious concerns around the issue of rape and domination, come to light. It is an intimate, honest and important cri de coeur (‘cry from the heart’)."
Magnus Toren 
Executive Director, 
Henry Miller Memorial Library 

"Ian Brennan hits a major grief head-on: the rape and abuse that is epidemic."
Professor Diane Glancy, 
The Reason for Crows and Stone Heart 

"Rape doesn’t just affect the victim. In this poignant, usually untold account, Ian Brennan deals with the long-term impact of rape on a relationship. His stark, vivid narrative mines the pain of love and the spiraling contamination of rape’s aftermath, as he acknowledges his own feelings of guilt-by-association. This is a brave and honest story of loss, and the urge to find redemption."
Afric McGlinchey, 
The Lucky Star of Hidden Things