Friday, September 20, 2013

Interview: Ira Nayman

Greetings humans, half-breeds, and everything in between. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, Ira Nayman. A good time was truly had by all and here’s how it went down.
from facebook fan page

Hi there Ira! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ECS Blog. Don’t worry about the darkness, your eyes will adjust.

So tell me, who is Ira Nayman?

I’ve been writing humour since I was eight years old (almost 45 years now). My major project, Les Pages aux Folles, was started in 1984; the Web version began in 2002. Six collections of articles from the Web site have been self-published in print (the latest are: The Street Finds Its Own Uses for Mutant Technologies and The Alternate Reality News Service’s Guide to Love, Sex and Robots). I have had one novel published by Elsewhen Press, with a second currently in the editing stage. In 2010, I won the Boyne Writers Group: Jonathan Swift Satire Writing contest.

Well, Ira I’m so glad to meet you and your sense of humor. I’m impressed and amazed by your accomplishments and can’t wait to learn more about you.

So whacha got for me today?
provided by author

Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience) follows the adventures of two investigators for the Transdimensional Authority, the organization that monitors and polices travel between dimensions. The discovery of a corpse next to equipment that has been tampered with leads Noomi Rapier and Crash Chumley on a chase across different realities, a chase in which Noomi will come face to face with four very different versions of herself. The novel explores the ways choice and chance intertwine to make us who we are. Much goofiness ensues. (See a review of this book by Risingshadow)

I love a good multidimensional storyline and with the added humor, this is definitely going on my TBR list. I really like the premise of this story and have often wondered about what would happen if there was another version of myself to run into. Great idea!

So who’s starring is this 2 dimensional script read of Welcome to the Multiverse?

The story is told from the point of view of Noomi Rapier, a woman who has just graduated from the Alternaut Academy and started working for the Transdimensional Authority (TA). She is green and makes some rookie mistakes, but she is smart and shows good investigative instincts. She is also strong, which she has to be to succeed in the male-dominated world of the TA.

Noomi’s partner is seasoned investigator Crash Chumley. While he helps guide her through the ins and outs of cross-universal investigations, Crash is torn between his loyalty to his new partner and the camaraderie of his fellow investigators, which sometimes confuses Noomi. He also harbours a secret, but you’ll have to read the novel to find out what that is…

Nice job building the suspense. Of course I want to know what his secret is now, but like you said, I’ll just have to read the book.

Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?

One of the pieces I wrote in the first year of my Web site was called “The ManWho Makes Fun of Everything”. That pretty much sums up my ambitions. I update my Web site every week (with three or four pieces of writing and two cartoons); when time allows, I write short stories and novels. The main advantage of having so many things on the go is that it gives me venues to write about a wide variety of subjects, helping me to fulfill my main ambition. One other advantage to this that I have found is that when I am not inspired to work on one project, I can switch to another; I find that this allows me to be much more productive than if I was working on one project at a time.

Most of my writing is done at the computer in my bedroom with music on in the background. However, I can develop ideas anywhere and anytime (on the subway, in a dentist’s office, in a lineup to get into a movie – really, anywhere), so I always carry a notepad and writing utensil with me. If I have enough time, I will sometimes write a scene in my notebook in longhand (antonym shorthand) and type it up when I get home. 

I’m just finishing a cycle of four books on Les Pages aux Folles, after which I will start three more. I am also working on a third novel.

I admire people who are so in tuned to humor and satire. I adore comedy, but can’t really write it. Like you, I like to work on multiple projects at one time, so I’m not too focused on just one thing. I can read anywhere, but can’t really write just anywhere. However when I’m out and about, I have been known to take notes.

What author(s) has most influenced your writing? Why or how?

There have been so many influences on what I do, but if I had to choose the most important, they would be Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the Marx Brothers. At first, this may seem like an unlikely combination, but they both taught me two lessons that deeply affect my work to this day: 1) maintain a high volume of comic elements, and; 2) use all of the comic devices at your disposal. The first point is important because the reader soon learns that if he doesn’t get a specific bit of humour, another will be along soon; as long as the reader gets most of the jokes, he won’t begrudge me some of the more topical or obscure or flat out strange. The second point is important because writers who use only one or two comic devices can become predictable, and surprise is one of the main characteristics of humour.

I’m a fan of both of these comedic staples. It’s understanding that they would have an influence on your work and now that you mention it, rules 1 and 2 really do apply. That’s how I feel about comedy as a consumer of it and I didn’t even know it.

Whose brain are you just itching to scratch?

Thomas Pynchon. He has such a unique take on the world – I would love to explore his creative process.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy interviewing authors; I learn so much. I’ve heard of Pynchon before, but really had no idea who he was. Of course now I’m interested enough to get to more about him and his work, and it’s because of you, Ira. Thanks for that.

Who is so you and why?

I get compared to Douglas Adams a lot. We both write smart, humourous science fiction. On the one hand, it’s flattering (I’m a fan of his, too, after all, and I cannot deny that he has had some influence on what I do). On the other hand, our writing styles and philosophical concerns are very different, and I hope that someday I will be able to transcend the comparisons and be recognized as having my own unique voice.

That’s pretty cool to be compared to such a great writer as him, but I do understand your desire to outgrow the comparison. From what I can tell, you are well on your way to shining just as bright all on your own.

What’s your ideal reading spot for your next highly anticipated read?
Barnes &Noble

I read two newspapers a day since much of what I write for my Web site is topical and I need to keep up. I usually read them when eating in my kitchen. Fictionally, I am currently reading I, Phone by David Wake. I picked it up when I was in England for the European launch of Welcome to the Multiverse. I, Phone is smart and funny and I am enjoying it quite a bit. I usually read fiction when I am stationary bicycling or on the subway (I live deep in the suburbs, so it’s a long commute to get to anything interesting in my city).
I,Phone sounds like a good read, thanks for the recommend (hehe). It’s cool that you read two newspapers a day, but I guess for you it’s all in a day’s work. I too like to read when I’m exercising, but I mostly stick to fiction unless it’s a biography. Real life is always a truly compelling story.

What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?
Google Search

Through the Looking Glass and Alice’sAdventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

I adore these stories. They are so creative, and original, and satirical. People argue whether Carroll really meant to be so “deep” and speculative when writing this children’s story, but I think sometimes a deeper meaning slips into a person’s writing without them realizing it. In any case, I like it...Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?

Sure thing.

Alright then, here we go.

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I always learn something new about filmmaking by watching Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, so it would make sense to choose that film. But, honestly, I think I would need something more “fun” if it would be the only movie I could watch. It would probably be a toss-up between Annie Hall, O Lucky Man, and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8thDimension.

First off, Netflix has been recommending Bucharoo Banzai to me for about a year and now I guess it’s going in my queue to be watched. Secondly, not that it’s relevant here, but I went through an Anne Hall fashion phase and it’s still a bit a part of me now. Lastly, I adore classics; nice job throwing in Citizen Kane.

What makes you geek out?

I used to write about the Toronto International Film Festival, and spent a lot of time interviewing writers and directors. In the years I did that, I only really had one geek experience: while I was waiting in a publicists’ suite, I saw John Sayles sitting in a chair reading a magazine. So, I walked up to him and said, “I don’t usually do this, but I just wanted to tell you how much I love your films.” He thanked me and that was that.

That’s all I got. Sorry, I’m not very good at geekery.

That’s plenty geekery for me. I have a theory that everyone has a little geek in them somewhere, but it’s not all comic books and movies for everyone. Some people become crazed fanboys and girls over wine, gardening, collecting, and whatever material thing it is that brings them joy…I like Sayles’s work. 

So what’s testing your patience right now?

When I heard that Netflix was producing a new season of Arrested Development, I started drooling. Really. It was hazardous to the health of my computer keyboard. I’ve seen four of the episodes, and it’s awesome – I can’t wait to see the remainder!

I’m with you on this. I’ve been going back to watch the old shows before I dive into the new ones. My husband of course took a day of his life to watch all 13 new episodes at once…he’s a fanboy and I love him.

When the soundtrack of your life is playing in your head, what songs express your glee and what songs bring out your rage?

I love just about everything, with the exceptions of country and gangsta rap (political rap was cool, though). I tend to gravitate to more complex music, so give me some dreaded prog rock (Yes, King Crimson, The Strawbs, etc.) any day.

Heck yeah, I gotta music lover here! I don’t know a lot about prog rock, but I’m thrilled that you do. I get it that music isn’t for everyone, but with so many types and genres to choose from, I have trouble processing the idea that some people don’t like music. Anyway, cool stuff here and thanks for making the distinction about rap. Not all rap is the same.

What’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?

Hanging out with my publisher (Elsewhen Press), Peter Buck, when I went to England for the launch of my novel. We were driving between cities when he pointed out the window and said, “You see those trees over there? That’s Sherwood Forest.” And, I thought, That’s where Men in Tights was set! …Among other things! Coming from Canada, where we are chronically allergic to history, being in England was a blast!

You, Sherwood Forest, and Men in Tights does sound like a good time. I’m glad you’ve had such wonderful experiences in your publishing adventure. I hope I have stories like this to tell one day.

Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?

I’m not especially good at self-promotion, so I don’t expect to ever become a well-known writer. In any case, a combination of age and heart medications has taken a toll on my creative process, so I don’t know how much longer I can stay in the word game. But, as long as I have my love for tap, life will be good!

Tap huh? Well that’s a new one for me. You are forever the humorist and I hope you stay that way.

Is there a question you would like to ask me?

Q: How would the world be different if, instead of being a game show host, Alex Trebek gave White House tours?

A: Wow, that was totally unexpected, but I’m up for the challenge. I think people might think twice about taking White House tours thus allowing for less security measures. I think after a few tours with him, the word spread about the tour guide who knows way too much and may just quiz you while you’re touring. Of course there will be the few who rise to the challenge and show up ready to be dazzled by his oddly charismatic monotone questioning. Pretty soon he’d be removed from touring duties and put in charge of training the other tour guides.

So I didn’t offer any knee slaps or chuckles, but I did my best.
 Ira, I’m so glad you stopped by to share a bit of yourself with me and my readers. I truly had a good time and look forward to watching your career moving forward.

Ok humans, half-breeds, and everything in between, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Ira Nayman, check out these great links:

Website & Blog: Les Pages aux Folles
GoodReads: Ira Nayman
Facebook: Profile: Ira Nayman
                   Fan Page: Ira Nayman's Thrishty Friednishes
Twitter: @ARNSProprietor
LinkedIn: Ira N.
Purchase links for Welcome to the Multiverse:, ElsewhenPress, IndigoChapters (Canada)

Ira welcomes questions to his two advice columns; if anyone would like more information on them, or if you would like to submit a question, the email address is:

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Click below to share your Reactions and more. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #cursescanbebroken