An Aussie through and through
David J. McMullen, grew up in Montagu Bay, Tasmania. As a child, he remembers writing in one form or another since he could hold a pen. In recollections of his school years, his natural talent for writing was often used as examples for other students. As a young adult, he lost sight of this talent for “life’s wilderness”. These adventures inspire him currently in novels, poems, and his work as a lyricist. In the following McMullen reflects about his experiences, muses, and social media promotions.
Can you describe a bit about yourself and your artwork?
Who am I – good question. I wonder that myself sometimes. I am an Australian author, poet, lyricist and songwriter. I was born in Tasmania, my mother Tasmanian born, my father a US Marine from The Bronx in New York.
My addiction to writing goes back a long way. I think I have probably been writing in one form or another since I could first hold a pen.
My recollections of my school years, from primary up to the end of my schooling was that whilst I struggled with most subjects I almost always topped my classes in English. My teachers often used my essays as a barometer for the other students. I come from a very low socioeconomic background so my early life was something of a struggle. In later years I found that a source of inspiration which I was able to draw from in my writings.
Quite possibly, like many in the arts, I wasted a big chunk of what could/should have been my most productive years. My twenties were spent lost somewhere in life’s wilderness, although just like the struggle of my early years, which were the inspiration for my first novel ‘The Fearless Five – One Up’, my twenties weren’t truly wasted as they provided the basis for the storyline of my novels ‘A Journey of Discovery’ and ‘Searching for a Niche’ along with the fodder for many of the songs I have written.
The stories I write, although fictional, like many of my songs, are born from experiences, ‘the school of life’. Feedback from many of my readers/listeners suggests my stories/lyrics are something they can relate to.
What is the biggest inspiration for your work?
Life – pure and simple! I’m inspired by what I’ve seen, where I’ve been, what I’ve done and the people I’ve met. I do like talking to people as everyone has got a story to tell, but one of my biggest assets is that I am a good listener which enables me to absorb snippets of other people’s stories which I then interweave into my stories.
Which came first, music or poetry? Does one inspire the other?
Poetry definitely and yes my song writing gleans much of its inspiration from my ability to rhyme words together, which after all is the basis of a good hook in a song. If you would like to listen to some of my musical creations they can be found at: http://soundcloud.com/jamsongs (Music link no longer available)
What does being creative mean to you?
It’s the essence of who I am. I can’t imagine life without some form of creativity involved. Bringing something artistic to life is not something I purposely set about initiating, the words a melody or an idea somehow come from within. When they do I get them down on paper then go about developing those ideas.
Do you have any creative routines or rituals that inspire your creativity?
I don’t have any routines or rituals associated with my writing. As I said earlier rhymes, melodies, lyric ideas just appear from within or I see something that inspires me. I take note of them then begin the process of developing them. When writing my novels I generally rough out the entire story and plot chapter by chapter then go back and write the story. More often than not the story will change along the way. I often do eight to ten drafts before I’m satisfied I’ve taken the final draft as far as I can.
What is the best advice you’ve received which influenced your work?
For my musical exploits a producer confided to me way back that a song is simply a story compressed into not much more than three minutes so that’s all the time you’ve got to relate that story to the listener so keep the verses short sharp and to the point and make sure the chorus contains a hook that the listener can’t get out of their head. My editor said much the same in relation to my story writings, keep the delivery sharp and believable with the action flowing freely. And always speak to the target reader in a voice that they can relate to.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
That’s an interesting question. I guess with the music I produce some of it is art for art’s sake, however quite a few of my songs have a message. One of my recent tracks, a song called ‘P-E-A-C-E’, has a very distinct anti-war message while others such as ‘Love Is’ and ‘Crazy in Love’ were written for the love of my life but could easily be interpreted to express the feelings of any star-crossed lovers.
My novels on the other hand are fantasy/fiction and if all I do is get the reader immersed in the story and come away being able to relate to the characters then I feel I’ve communicated exactly what it was I set out to communicate.
Are “The Fearless Five” coming of age stories inspired by your own life experiences?
Yes definitely. There is a lot of me in the main character, Jordie. My wife says his fictional life is the life I wished I’d lived. Not totally true as I’m content with my life as it is – but it’s true to say that there is a fair bit of me in him just as there is a fair bit of my wife in the love of Jordie’s life, Jess.
Was there a time in your life when you decided to become a writer?
Not really – not consciously at least. I’ve always written so I guess it was just a gradual progression.
You have a famous ancestor, Henry Lawson. Does his influence in Australian culture influence your writing?
Henry Lawson is the iconic Australian poet; his works are legend in Australian literature. Did he have an influence on my work? – I can honestly answer that question with no. I have never closely studied his work so any influence he may have had on me or resemblance to any of his works I guess can only be put down to genes.
Social media has been a driving force online marketing. Can you tell us how social media has helped advertise your work?
I have to say I am a complete novice when it comes to social media, born in the wrong era perhaps, but I am slowly coming to terms with it and learning how to use it to put my artistic works in front of more and more people.
McMullen has various online media outlets in which to promote his work. One in particular is Youtube. Repeated messaging is used in the video below which reaches to the subconscious mind of the viewer. A technique well known in marketing. To quote Jay Conrad Levinson, co-author of Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days, “90 percent of all marketing decisions are made with a customer’s subconscious mind. And the way to approach and get into this subconscious mind is through repetition.”, as stated in an interview with Al Lautenslager for Entrepreneur.com You will want to google McMullen after you watch this video.
“Just talking about the books feels too obvious or something. I don’t really know why the ad works…other than that its a catchy little weird melody. But I wanna make one JUST LIKE IT.”
– A response to the video by Kaleb Smith, Transpersonal Researcher
Do you produce your own promotional videos? What inspires the visuals?
Not the finished product, I come up with what it is I want portrayed in the video depending on what the song is about. I then hand it over to someone with much more experience in creating them than I possess.
Can you tell me a bit about your promotional video “Aussie ‘McMullen David David J'”? The use of the Australian landscape and wildlife is incredibly effective accompanying the repetitive tune.
This video was made as a tool to promote my name and my books. The idea being to get it all over social media with the message to ‘Google me – see what you see’, which hopefully drives traffic to my website. The use of Australian native animals and landscapes was to drive the message home that that’s what I am – an Aussie through and through.
To quote your video, is it true “there’s nobody out there with [your] DNA?” Taken literally – yes, I’m the only one with my DNA. Are there other that have what I have – can do what I do – obviously the answer to that is yes!
To purchase books by David J. McMullen:
Originally published on Artfoodie.com
Dec. 21, 2015