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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Allesandra's Bequest - R.M. Fraser

 Who doesn't love music? (If you answered 'I don't' than may I ask what planet you are from?)

Do you sing? Play in a band? Play an instrument? Kick it at Karaoke? Sing in the shower? Blast music whenever you can?

Ask anyone who knows me well (or not so well) and you will find I love music. I love singing, I love listening (dancing, working out, cleaning house, driving car) to my favorite artists and songs. I even make up songs and parody lyrics off the top of my head. (Move over Weird Al, my PMS song is amazing and a Christmas Jingle for a morning show won me a prize!)
I'm extremely guilty of using music to express myself. (Oh you do it too!) One of my many examples (if I gave you them all this blog post would be a novel!) is that when I was a teenager I'd developed the habit of blasting the Dangerous Minds Soundtrack if I was in a rotten mood. (Apparently underneath this diva-like exterior is a gansta rapper? Should I invest in a diamond grill?) My family took note of this. Several years later, I was playing it in my car when my sister opened the door to get in, she heard the music, hesitated and asked 'Oh-Oh who are you pissed at? What's wrong?' (Well, HELLO to you too!)
Needless to say, I wasn't mad that particular day, I was just feeling nostalgic for the 90's. Scaring my sister was just a plus!

Goofing Off! My cousin and I rapping to 'Who Said We're Whack?' by The Lonely Island.

Music is soothing for the soul, but did you know if can also inspire books to be born?

Introducing my latest read: Allesandra's Bequest

 What drew me to accept the review for Allesandra's Bequest was not just the subject matter, but the added element of music! The chapters actually revolve around song lyrics that author R.M. Fraser had written for a concept album. Color Me Intrigued! When I think of albums that go along with a story, my mind flashes to the Pink Floyd album 'Dark Side of the Rainbow' and how if you play it along to the movie 'The Wizard of Oz' the music matches what is happening on screen. (If you haven't tried it, you must give it a go! It's cool!)

When it comes to the story of Allesandra and Izz, it is hard to explain without giving the plot away. So here is the gist: We meet the two characters and follow a tragic story about love, loss, suicide, abuse, depression. Dark topics, but with an ending that puts the whole story into perspective. (I loved the ending!!)
Allesandra's has had a lot to deal with in her life and constantly struggles with those emotions. She and Izz have a deep love and connection, but underneath the surface is love enough to help her heal?
As it is a short, it skims the surface of the story, we the reader know what is needed and that is that! The amazing part is, it's still a captivating and deeply emotional read.
With it being so straight to the point, I wonder if the impact would have been the same had it been a lengthy novel with even more insight, character development, plots, and dialogue? I can honestly say, I don't know if it would. Usually my biggest complaint is that 'I want more story!' and I 'could' say that here, but for once I wont. Why? Because I like how 'in your face' and clear the message is. It isn't diluted by all the extras. I feel like this story is a lesson people should read and learn from. The ending is aptly titled 'Only Now Do I Learn and I loved how the author wrote the scene. It was unexpected and I felt it to be a home run as far as delivering a message. It may be a work of fiction, but it really illustrates the point that suicide isn't the answer and explains why.

On another note, I think that R.M. Fraser needs to put these lyrics to music, record and sell the album alongside the book! (Peer pressure) The fact that the reader can create their own tune in their head as they read is fun, but I'd love to hear the author's interpretation.

If you are interested in an fascinating concept and an interesting short. I think you should give Allesandra's Bequest a try!

Here are some links for you to check out!

R.M. Fraser's Author's Page

Author Blog: The Fraser File

After reading Allesandra's Bequest, I was itching to ask the author a few questions about his book, upcoming novel, and about his work spreading awareness about his life as a CODA (Child Of Deaf Adults) I think everyone needs to hear what he has to say, and I am happy to help spread awareness by introducing R.M Fraser to you. Please read on to learn more!

                            **AUTHOR INTERVIEW**

Me:   One of the things that intrigued me about your work is the concept. What inspired you to take your song lyrics and turn them into a short story?

R.M. Fraser: Honestly it was just a random thing. Back in my musician I played in a heavy metal/hardcore band. As a band, we took a very collaborative approach to writing our music. Any member of the band could come up with something and if we liked it, it would build. Towards the end of my run with Bedlam, I had written Allesandra's Bequest (Just the song). It never really got to the band before we split up, so it just sat in my head for a while. I continued to write poetry and music, and one day realized that a lot of what I had was fairly dark like Allesandra's Bequest was. After looking them over it just kind of hit me that they were all somehow related. That's when I thought of the concept album. So from there I wrote new music, lyrics, etc, and was able to put the album together in my head. It never got recorded due to lack of funds/resources. From there I eventually turned into an epic poem of sorts, where there was narrative verse around the song lyrics. I was never sold on the format, and decided to try a short story narrative. I felt it worked a lot better this way, and at the same time I had discovered indie publishing in the ebook area. All I needed was to put in some time, so I did. If there was any inspiration to draw from on the overall creation of the project, it was really Pink Floyd's TheWall album. I love that album and the story it tells. I guess I just went from there and changed it to a literary format. It's my first attempt at writing anything beyond music and poetry that I have published.
Me: Allesandra’s Bequest is bittersweet and deals with such sad topics of abuse and suicide. For a short story I felt you capture the tone and emotion with a passion. Who or what is your muse?
Did you ever consider taking the concept further and writing a longer novel?

R.M. Fraser: I'm not sure there was a muse for this. i think my thoughts were just often dark in that period of my life and aspects of suicide/grief and loss were on my mind frequently. I don't mean that I ever felt suicidal myself. I didn't. But there were a lot of teenage suicides where I grew up, and I had a lot of friends who were victims of abuse. I guess it was just around me a lot? Tough to put my finger on. As for writing a longer novel, i never really considered it with Allesandra's Bequest. The nice part about keeping it a short story is that it's more true to the original idea of the concept album. By not filling in all the blanks I can leave a lot more for the reader to infer on his/her own. Music is 100 percent that way, and I feel a novel would get rid of that element. I couldn't picture a story as unique as Allesandra's Bequest is in the way it was created to really be attempted as a novel, and especially as my first one.

Me: You suggest that the readers read the lyrics to their own ‘melody’, what genre of music did you have in mind while writing them?

R.M. Fraser: The genres are all over the place. Tracks range from heavy metal, pop, rock, mellow acoustic, almost folk. I think that gives you an idea. Try taking Tool, Pink Floyd, original Guns N Roses, The mellow side of Black Label Society, some alternative, Toad the Wet Sprocket-ish? I may have just screwed your mind up even more.

Me: You mention that you are a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) and your next work will reflect that. Can you share with my readers about the awareness you are creating, and can you describe your next book concept?

R.M. Fraser: Being a CODA is something I cherish dearly. My parents are/were culturally deaf, meaning they used American Sign Language to talk with us growing up. It made be bilingual, and I was signing before I could speak. At home I was always in the Deaf world, but with my other relatives and friends from school, I was in the regular hearing world. They are quite different places to be in many respects. The cultural norms and standards are somewhat different, and every hearing person who didn't know anything about Deaf people were always asking me questions about it. I've never let go of my own Deaf identity, and I guess that's what makes me a pure CODA. Transitioning from music and poetry into short stories and novels has also prompted me to take my knowledge of Deaf culture and make it more accessible to hearing people who know nothing about it, but have those questions. There are a lot of myths about Deaf people that need to be put to rest. Deaf people are also a very oppressed minority. It's really not much different from racism or sexism, or any other discriminatory 'ism' you can think of. The term Deaf people have for this is called Audism. I write a lot about it on my blog in hopes that hearing people who read it will have a better understanding of Deaf people. That's the awareness part. If more people are aware, then I believe it lessens the amount of Audism in the world.

My next book, and first novel, is really a mostly truth based story on my family, with a focus on myself being in both worlds as a CODA. There is heavy focus on my parents' childhoods as well, because it tells more of the stories of how Deaf people become who they are and how Audism impacts everything. From a CODA standpoint, being in two worlds has never been easy, and there's a struggle there worth delving into as well. There are tons of stories from our lives as a family that I feel can make a significant impression on any potential reader, and my goal is to make this entertaining and informative. This book is being written as a fictional style novel, but mostly everything in it truly happened from one person's perspective or another. Most books from CODAs are biographical. I love reading them, but felt this might be a good way for my CODA story to me "re-mixed", if you will. Up to this point, the only thing I have published related to anything Deaf outside of my blog is a poem entitled "Pride", from my ebook, Shadow Boxer, and other poems. It's about my father and what he meant to me after losing him to a sudden stroke 4 years ago. So really, this novel will be a tribute to my parents, to Deaf people (hopefully), and to CODAs everywhere.

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