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Seb Doubinsky: Five Things I Learned Writing Song Of Synth

Synth is a drug able to induce hallucinations indistinguishable from reality. But it’s brand new, highly addictive, and more than likely dangerous. Even the dealers peddling the pills don’t know what long-term effects the drug will have on its users.

For Markus Olsen, Synth offers an easy escape from his crumbling life. Markus, an ex-hacker, has been caught red-handed. While his friends were sent to jail for thirty years, Markus decided to cooperate, agreeing to lend his services and particular criminal expertise to Viborg City’s secret service, aiding the oppressive state power he’d been fighting to break, in exchange for his relative freedom.

But Markus’s past as an anarchist comes back to haunt him in the form of a credit card with no account but an seemingly unlimited balance and the discovery of a mysterious novel in which he is a main character. How much of his reality is being produced by Synth? How disconnected from real life has Markus become?

Forced to face his past and the decisions he’s made, Markus must decide between the artificial comfort of his constructed life and the harsh reality of treason and the struggle for freedom.

1: Music can cure – or at least, help cure

As the title of my novel indicates, it revolves a lot about music, even if on a subliminal level. Doing research on the therapeutic virtues of music – which I took a mostly New Age crap – I stumbled on very serious articles describing how music, in some cases, can help fight depression, enhance the immune system or even give medicine a better effect. Some researchers also advocate the systematic use of music associated to chemotherapy. Once again, “science-fiction” proved lagging behind reality. Lesson learned.

2: The Real World is Just As Strange

Alexander’s tomb has never been found. Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) died in Babylon, but was buried in Memphis, Egypt, by one of his generals. It was later moved to Alexandria, but the mausoleum subsequently disappeared around 4 AD. Nobody knows of its location, and if Alexander’s remains are still there. The body’s gone. It’s not even a locked-room mystery. It’s a “disappearing room” mystery. On a writing point of view, it is excellent material, because it conjugates real history and documented historical facts, with myth, in an inseparable way. It is the canvas on which fiction is painted, the shadow behind the colors, the darkness in the background. With the story of Alexander’s tomb, I learned that it is reality that makes fiction possible, and that, in turn, fiction can augment reality in fantastic ways.

3: Power Can Be A Myth

Power doesn’t know everything and certainly doesn’t know what you’re up to right now. Don’t believe the hype. They might have cameras all over, they still are blind as mice. It becomes obvious when one looks at the larger picture, and moves away from the Hollywood thrillers. When a jumbo jet disappears and cannot be found, when terrorists still manage to carry out bloody and spectacular actions, one realizes that the all-seeing satellites are just a myth. A well-designed one, but a myth nonetheless. This is what I tried to convey in The Song of Synth – the manufactured paranoia and its paper-thin existence. Contrary to what most Medias will tell you, power is not made of steel, but it is a cardboard construction. If you approach a flame close enough, you will realize that. And fiction can be that flame.

4: Drugs Are Good For You

Wait, let me explain! What I mean here is not that that it’s OK to do them – although I have absolutely nothing against them in a purely recreational sense – but that drugs can be a helpful part of a healing strategy, as they can un-frame the world in which the self is suffering. In The Song of Synth, the main character is using the drug called “Synth” not to escape his situation – he thinks it’s impossible – but to momentarily push the walls and change the settings. It is a healing process, although it is not a conscious one. In this perspective, I think the current effort to get psychoactive drugs back in psychological and psychiatric practice is very interesting.

5: Drugs Are Bad For You

With Point 4 being said, let me counter that with this: as I often tell my students (and will tell my children when they get to that age), “If you need drugs to get up and get through the day, then you’re not doing drugs, they’re doing you.”

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Seb Doubinsky is a bilingual French writer, born in Paris in 1963. He has published a number of novels and poetry collections in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He currently lives in Aarhus, Denmark, with his wife and their two children.

Seb Doubinsky: Twitter

Song of Synth: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound