Review: The Flute Player by Shawn Mihalik (and an Interview with Shawn)

ebook, 105 pages
Published March 12th 2013 by Asymmetrical Press
ISBN: 1938793134 (ISBN13: 9781938793134)
Reaction: Hmmsie
Rating: 3.4 Stars
*This copy was gifted to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my opinion*
Summary:  For nearly ten years, young Oliver has begrudgingly accepted his position as the flute player of the peaceful village of Drommar—a responsibility thrust upon him after the previous flute player, and Oliver’s best friend, drowned in a tragic childhood accident.

Now on the cusp of adulthood, a mysterious young woman enters Oliver’s life, and he begins to question the nature of his world and the importance of his place in it.

 
What to say, what to say, what to say? This book is not usually something I would pick up. It has a kind of reality that’s entwined with an amazing fantasy of dragons and knights; with flute players and coma patients that can travel to unseen lands. Just beyond the mountains.
Oliver, the young flute player who had to grow up way faster than any child should ever have so, feels trapped. And he is. Day after day he is forced into the same boring routine. Wake up at the butt crack of dawn to play to the villagers. To bring them joy. To let them feel what he feels, except he feels no joy when he plays. In the middle of the days he writes music, or at least tries to…because, in all honesty, he really can’t. At night he plays his people something to sooth them into comforting dreams.
Then he finds her. His reason to keep going. His light.
And he has to give her up. He has to help her home. But what if she doesn’t want to go home? At least, not just yet? While in this dream-like world he begins to question his sanity, as does she. He finds a friend in her, some one who will finally talk to him and not look at him with awe, she looks at him like maybe they could be friends.
“All is ephemeral, Oliver, all of it. And it’s your job now to make it last forever.”
Shawn’s writing is really, really good. Just a few missing commas. This was kind of a strange thing to read. NOT IN A BAD WAY I SWEAR. I mean it felt like some one was telling me the story and I was seeing it through some one else’s eyes. I have two of those in my head. Yes they work just fine….well, with glasses. But other than that, they’re fine.
Simply put, I’m not really sure how to react to it. I liked it just fine. It was just so unusual. At least for me it was.
I read to escape reality and this book let me stay in reality, not something that usually happens. And I’m still not sure if that’s good or bad…
Whatever, I enjoyed reading it. 
It’s a lovely April day….Shawn and I are in Venice. We just sat down for a cup of tea. After I had a few moments to relax….we begin our interview:
Me: What was the hardest/easiest part about writing The Flute Player?
 Shawn: The easiest part was writing the first draft. I actually wrote the first draft about five years ago when I was in high school over the period of about a month, but at the time the book was this sappy, terribly written, unpublishable love story. 
I had to grow a lot over the next several years in order to eventually revisit the book and realize what it was really about and rewrite it. That was the hardest part.
Me: What/Who was your inspiration for your main character and their relationship with each other? (In The Flute Player)
Shawn: My seventeen-year-old self was the inspiration for Oliver, the book’s central character. At first he was based on myself as I saw myself at that time, and then, when I rewrote the book, he was still based on that same teenaged me, but the teenaged me that I was able to see that I truly was, in retrospect. If that makes any sense.
The other characters weren’t based on anyone in particular, although Alexandria was named for someone special, which I guess answers the question about the character’s relationship, too, doesn’t it?

Me: Do you have a favorite place to write?
Shawn: I like to write just about anywhere that’s quiet, and early I find I’m usually only able to write early in the day. I like to do my editing in more crowded places, though, places like coffee shops or libraries or parks—this helps contrast the loneliness that can be part of the act of writing.

Me: What advice you you have for beginner authors?
Shawn: Just write something. Having written something is the first, and therefore most important, step to becoming a writer. Everything else comes after.
Me: What do you think is the best cure for writers block?
Shawn: This may be different for other writers, but for me, it’s doing anything other than writing. Becoming engrossed in a long novel, going for a long walk or going rock climbing, even watching an entire season of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix. Of course, eventually, you still have to sit back in the chair and write, even if you still have the writer’s block.
Me: How did you come up with the title for The Flute Player?
Shawn: Coming up with the title was a relatively straightforward process. The main character is a flute player, so that’s what I called the book. Although I did consider calling it The Flautist, but that didn’t have the same ring. Or any ring at all.

Me: Is there any music that helped you write The Flute Player?
Shawn: Not really. In fact, I didn’t even know how to play an instrument when I first wrote the book. There’s a scene in the book where the main character, Oliver, writes a song—I had to consult with a musician friend of mine on this scene several times. 
I do play the ukelele now, though. Everyone should play the ukelele.
Me: How did you come up with the idea for The Flute Player?
Shawn: I wish I could remember, honestly, but it sort of just developed as I wrote it, at least the first draft. Like I said, the first draft was this sappy love story about a flute player and this girl and dragons and a knight, but when I revisited the draft years later, I realized that the book was really about transitioning to adulthood, and all the fantastical elements where just a way to tell that story.
Feel Free to be a Stalker:
Asymmetrical Press: http://asymmetrical.co/

Author bio:

Shawn Mihalik is an author and professional editor currently living in Youngstown, Ohio. His works include The Final Days of Poetry, a poetry collection; The Flute Player, a novella; and Brand-Changing Day, a novel. Shawn was born in San Diego, California, in 1990, where he lived until he was seven.
In high school, he won several awards both as a writer for and editor-in-chief of his student newspaper, The Talon, prompting him to study journalism at Youngstown State University before deciding that his passion for writing was better directed at fiction. He then spent several years in Pittsburgh, learning American Sign Language and working with the deaf and hard of hearing. In 2012, he signed a three-book deal with Asymmetrical Press.

Shawn loves to climb things, especially large things like rocks and cliffs and mountains. He also still reads comic books.

So my lovley, bibliophile friends…until next time 
  -Jackie 
 
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