MEET K.M. ECKE
Hailing from the original birthplace of the atomic bomb, Los Alamos, NM, K.M. Ecke is an organic, free-range, preservative-free, philosopher-poet using universal truth to battle cultural insanity. Ecke, which is German for ‘corner’, is the child of a physicist and musician and grew up at the corner of creativity and logic. After ten years of existential exploration and creative experimentation, he releases his debut novel Moral Panic, along with an album of lyrically-focused songs, Change of Mind via his independent creative collective The Dream Flow.
Ecke strives to deliver a strong story with inherent value to his readers. The author is well-versed in writing, including essays, songs and poetry, the last of which the author finds the most efficient form of expression, and thus, the best way to improve his writing practice.
Initially intending for law school, a business law class changed his direction, and Ecke chose to pursue writing, soul-searching and creative projects. After several years of odd jobs learning about different
pieces of the world, he began his own private music teaching business and attended Colorado Film School for a year and a half to study filmmaking. After 18-months in his program, he veered to his own path and established Dream Flow Media, the home to all of his creative endeavors;; publishing, music and all additional branches of the many-faceted visionary. Along with his own creations, he strives to bring other artists into the fold to develop a creative collective for a variety of multimedia projects.
Ecke also works as a filmmaker for local non-profits and bands, and hopes one day to see Moral Panic on the big screen. The author lives in Denver, Colorado and hosts a storytelling micro-podcast Myths, Metaphors, and Morality. For more info, visit the author online at TheDreamFlow.com.
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GET TO KNOW THE AUTHOR
Moral Panic hits on some very real, very intense topics! Can you tell me where you came up with the idea for your story?
I’ve thought digital surveillance was a really interesting issue for several years. It obviously holds a lot of potential for drama, but I wanted to be sure to avoid the usual clichés of such a story. Oftentimes, it’s a future dystopian civilization where a faceless police force is enforcing some arbitrary set of rules, but I wanted to explore the real-life applications and development of such a group.
For Moral Panic, I wanted to explore the collision of the most extreme political, ideological, and technological elements of our modern world. I had been writing songs and making music for years, but I kept trying to fit much bigger ideas into my poetry and my albums. Eventually I decided music wasn’t as appropriate for the big ideas I wanted to take on so I decided to write the book to give me more room to explore those ideas.
So we can also acknowledge the title of ‘musician’ to your name?
Music and poetry are big parts of my creative development. Music is the language of raw emotion. Once you start adding lyrics on top of it, it starts to morph a little bit, but instrumental music is the best way to capture a mood. I majored in music composition in college and my mother was a professional violinist and educator, so it’s always been a big piece of how I see myself as a creator. These are songs I had the melodies and chords written for quite some time, but I decided to rewrite the lyrics within the past six months to address some of the other ideas I’ve been considering outside of the novel. There are a couple of similar themes in the songs as there are in the book (truth, clarity of mind as the antidote of distortion) but they are definitely separate works.
Can you give us a little insight into your musical style and inspiration for Moral Panic?
The music is a collection of lyrically-driven modern folk-rock songs. I wanted the lyrics to be the focus so I didn’t do any additional instrumentation outside of the guitar and vocals except for the first track, Reason and Rhyme. That one is intended to jar you from whatever complacent state of mind you’re in before the rest of the album soothes you with truth.
What do you think will surprise readers most about your story?
I hope the political manipulation of the social media sphere piques their interest. It’s insane how deep down you can drill on social media advertising analytics. That was one of my odd jobs after college. All of the media manipulation in the book is totally possible with today’s media tools and Jacobs’ scene where she manipulates the minds of certain demographics with fake quotes from the current Governor should be very unsettling to people. We’re entering an age where everything will be fakeable. Even now, most people can’t even see the content other people are seeing. It will be imperative that people go to primary sources to get their information or they will simply be arguing over the wrong things.
Were any parts of your story inspired by real-life events?
Part of this book considers what happens to people who are publicly shamed or fired for some reason. I’m not arguing whether different punishments are justified or not. Rather, I think it depends on the specific example. I did find it an interesting mental exercise to think about what happens to those people. The most surreal experience was seeing some of the events in the book mirrored in the real world while I was creating it. The most striking example was the James Damore firing at Google.
The Social Justice group in the book is completely assembled by these type of lost souls. I really think that absent a productive dialogue, people’s ideas will become more extreme when their lives are destroyed by saying or doing things in a less than tactful way.
What kind of research did you have to do for your book?
I looked into human trafficking, digital surveillance, and social engineering mostly. A friend of mine works for a company that lost a good deal of money on a phishing email wire transfer scam so there’s a scene in the book which is based on that experience.
A lot of the surveillance stuff I was just generally aware of because it’s so pervasive, but there were definitely some dark days spent diving into the world of human trafficking. It’s a really complex issue and the stories I read were horrific. I modeled every example of the human trafficker characters from bits and pieces I collected from various news reports, mostly from Vice. One was about a woman who was abducted in Nicaragua on the pretenses of getting a small business loan and then spent 5+ years in sexual slavery for several cartel leaders in Mexico. That research also made me think quite a bit about the current immigration discussion. A lot of the drug cartels already have the supply chains to get drugs into the U.S. so they’re starting to offer passage to America using those same supply lines to people who can afford it.
That would be incredibly difficult to spend so much time on! This is all very topical though. Given today’s political climate, how do you think your story may end up impacting your readers?
I hope this story serves as a partial antidote to the type of fake news which is so prevalent on social media. The only ameliorants to the effects of that type of manipulation are educated skepticism and being aware of our own cognitive biases. I think people can get too caught up in the drama of politics instead of focusing on the real world policy which actually affects us. As someone who’s worked in media production, I know what’s possible to fake and that knowledge makes me very skeptical of any story that has really obvious political motivations.
It’s also possible the usage of Social Justice as a name for a vigilante group will be criticized by some people. I originally developed the story around that name to imply “Social Media Justice”, but I’m sure it will be misunderstood at some point. I guess it shows some of my ignorance to the online world, but the ‘Social Justice Warrior’ concept only recently came to my attention.
What fascinates you most about writing?
The ability to move so omnisciently is what I find the most intriguing. I’ve been accused of head- hopping, but I don’t care because it’s only in writing where it’s possible to jump between peoples’ reactions within a situation. Seeing how different characters view the same experience differently is a fascinating reality of life to explore. In films, we are restricted to the world of action. All emotion must be communicated by something the actor is doing or saying, or the image that’s being used. In writing, we can move from the outside room into the mind of the character, and then into the mind of another character and see how those elements can bring about dramatic tension.
Do you have any authors or mentors who play a big role in influencing your work as an author and creative?
I draw inspiration from dozens of people and creatives so I’m hesitant to just list a few, though I have to say Joseph Campbell has been a big influence on my broader way of thinking about stories and the purpose they serve to humanity. His understanding of mythology and its value was really staggering, evident by his ability to communicate his ideas clearly and simply. I think everyone should read his work.
I also love reading Cormac McCarthy, Alexandre Dumas, J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling. I find Cormac McCarthy’s writing style to be so much like actually living life. There are pages and pages of mostly description drawing you into the experience of his world and then his scenes of violence are these punchy assaults on your psyche. I admire that ability to delve into the adrenaline of brutality and communicate it so realistically.
Alexandre Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo is a great revenge tale about a man caught up in the political motivations of those around him, which certainly has some similar story elements to my novel.
It’s hard to estimate the impact fantasy/science fiction has had on me. I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings by the time I was in second grade and my father was as close to a Lord of the Rings scholar as anyone I’ve ever met.
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was also a really great experience. I was the perfect age to read each of them as they came out so the series holds a nostalgic place in my heart. I think both J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien are as close to mythmakers as the modern world has had thus far. Both of their major works have such phenomenal archetypal character development.
Do you have plans for more books in 2018 and beyond?
I’ve got another novel I’ve gotten the first few pages written about a future fiction eugenics algorithm, but in the very recent future I’ll be developing a few dozen short story concepts I have in the works and a mythology micro-podcast where I do ancient mythological stories as short form audio poetry performances once a month. That project is called Myths, Metaphors, and Morality and will be released through my YouTube channel.