August 16, 2009
Interview with John Reyer Afamasaga
about the newly published GUIOPERA II
John Reyer Afamasaga, author of the new GUIOPERA II.
Tyler: Welcome, John. Judging from our communications in the process of setting up this interview, you seem to be in good spirits. Is there any particular reason for this vigor?
John: Maybe I’m ready to predict what life will be like in 2045, how ingrained GOOGLE will be, and how we as humans will take responsibility for the environment.
Tyler: Go on.
John: Hardware manufacturers have to be real about their long-term strategies. Where are we going to dump all the stuff that becomes redundant? As consumers, we have to take responsibility for what we want. For example, a new cell phone every year—Afanasy, Little Lazoo, Missy Evon and the cast say if you want portable communication, take a chip. Insert the thing inside yourself.
Tyler: And GOOGLE?
John: They’re already showing signs of maturity in their strategy. I thought they were a bit much while mapping the planet, but I get the feeling they’re ready to put their POWER to good use.
Tyler: Just what do you mean by “POWER” and why with a capital P?
John: Responsibility is power, in the giant’s case, it clearly has acquired clout and status—a position of responsibility by being able to provide for so many people on so many levels—shareholders, Internet users, and so on.
The caps on the word Power is a notation I use in the work to differentiate between Lazoo a human shell, James Elton, and LAZOO the PointSlayer an entity with InterDimension ability. The same as power and POWER as is the case in GOOGLE’s statue as both icon and service provider.
Tyler: You won’t mind that I say, because I know you a little better now, that to people reading this, that sounds arrogant, or the ravings of a lunatic…
John: How many people are we talking about—five, six, maybe twelve counting the people who approve of it? No but seriously, GOOGLE like Microsoft is at the core a group of like-minded individuals who as a collective have huge voices. GOOGLE has the luxury; while it’s a massive company in the business world, its image, or its persona is totally pliable. At a glance, GOOGLE is still an almost blank canvas, with a text field and above that a brand name, with six letters, the number of letters in what it does, and that is SEARCH.
GOOGLE has proven it can do anything it wants to do, but it’s who it is because it’s composed of responsible entities. Hence the position it’s acquired for itself in history. Like I always say, imagine if Bill Gates were someone like, well you know the type, like, ah? You know, dictator type, with megalomaniac tendencies, you know?
Tyler: What do you think the Hardware Manufacturers are going to do?
John: There’s huge money in reversing what has happened. Recycling the Hardware out there for FUEL, and building products. Stop producing new materials, and turn existing waste into a renewable energy. Create a demand for new materials made from what we have, and let the resources replenish themselves.
Tyler: So this is why you’re in such a good mood?
John: Because I never thought I’d be writing the second GUIOPERA.
Tyler: How does GOOGLE, the future, and the environment tie into GUIOPERA II?
John: GUIOPERA II is in 2045. The environment is a major concern as we all know. GOOGLE has the opportunity to affect change. I mean who else, Microsoft aside with WINDOWS, do we instantly go to for help nowadays. And they’re damn good at getting a job done quietly. I woke up one day and they had GOOGLE MAP the planet.
Tyler: I understand that you’ve changed GUIOPERA II from GLOBAL ATTACK to something else?
John: My dad died in June this year, and after a month of feeling lost, I woke up one morning and the whole thing just came to me. And to me a character’s story is more important than the plot.
Tyler: I’m sorry to hear about your dad, but go on.
John: My lead characters, John Lazoo and Polina Rada, a lot of the time are not central to the story. Even though I set out to tell Lazoo or Polina’s story, when I hear Missy Evon’s or Arley’s story, I’ll tell that.
In 2009, John Reyer and John Lazoo, with the help of Missy Evon who is now twenty years old, are writing new stories. Metofeaz Litigatti has disappeared. Jon Le Mac is in South America running his Hotel business. LMLA-ink no longer relies on the POEMBOOK or the STORYBOOK for their stories. Lazoo and Genisis are contemplating starting a family, and Afamasaga has accepted responsibility for telling the story and is mostly settled in his new life.
Afamasaga and Lazoo imagine the world Little Lazoo will grow up in.
Tyler: What do you mean ‘Metofeaz Litigatti has disappeared’? Isn’t he integral to writing the stories? What happened to him?
John: In the time line, which I try to uphold wherever possible, Metofeaz disappears around 2004. But that’s another whole new story in eBook Feeaz Fontain, which is under development and due for publishing in 2011.
Tyler: You mentioned Missy Evon, or Missy Lévon, as she is known in your last eBook—Jon Le Mac - Book 1 (The Making of LMLA-ink); does she grow up to be writer for LMLA-ink like Metofeaz Litigatti?
John: Missy’s great, isn’t she, ah?
Tyler: Yeah. She seems like a child beyond her years, holding it together despite her parents who seem less competent than her—especially her father—like she’s the character, the child behind the parents, who holds things together.
John: It would appear that way, but as duty would have it, she has a greater calling than that. As John Page was to Polina Rada, Genisis Jones is to John Lazoo; Missy is Little Lazoo’s GuidingMaster.
Which makes things interesting, as I first introduce Little Lazoo into the end-to-end saga in eBook BrocoliFlower page 40. Little Lazoo is seven years old in the year 2020, and Missy is thirty-one years of age; long story short, in GUIOPERA II they are co-stars.
All I can say is that she did write for LMLA-ink for a while, and there’s a possibility that her writing, as a child in Jon Le Mac Book 1, could well be where Afamasaga got the idea for the Dimensions, and all the entity stuff from, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Tyler: Only through reading the LMLA-ink SESSIONS did I get an insight into some of the characters and a crash course in some of the back story. But aren’t you overdoing it, a bit? As far as over exposing the characters—maybe even giving too much away?
John: You like the SESSIONS? I mean do you like the concept? Anyways, the SESSIONS are as the name says, a transcript of the times when LMLA-ink gets together to write. Also, there’s a possibility that the SESSIONS came about after Afamasaga got wind that the offices were being bugged. By who? Who knows? That’s another story…
But to answer your question about exposure; that’s what I do. I stress test the story, plot, the back story, and naturally the strong characters come forward, the lead characters take a break, and I over expose everything, leaving no place for the faint hearted, and the weaklings to hide.
Tyler: Yes, I do like the concept of the stories—it’s that intertextuality game you like to play—postmodern fictional authors writing fictional stories disguised as autobiography. But where’s your motivation to pump out the work, and in such quantities, come from?
John: It used to be for career purposes. But then I accepted that I am a writer and would do it for nothing. Now it’s a case of responsibility, in that I’ve seen on a couple of sites where the eBooks are—manybooks.net, getfreeebooks.com and scribd.com—that there have been a couple of downloads and to me now, even if there were only three or four fans of Lazoo, Polina, Missy, that’s enough to make me want to fulfill my obligation as an entertainer. And also to deliver on a promise of sorts to resolve all the issues the characters inherit in the plot.
Tyler: Do you know who your fans are?
John: When I started out, like I said, it was all business and about making a new career, which I thought would be as an ideas guy. So, in my head, I targeted women from about twelve years to I think about sixty-five. It took me a while to get there, ’cause in Lazoo, Genisis would’ve definitely appealed to twenty-fives and upwards. Then Rozelle and Polina came along. But in the GUIOPERA I and work since, I made a conscious effort to try and get “girls” of all ages. I had to wait for Harry Potter to pass, as if it ever will, ha ha? Now it’s whoever feels for the characters.
Tyler: Did you think you’d amass the body of work you have already?
John: A mass? Maybe a Mess. No but seriously, I always want to build a body, or something that makes sense and has a purpose. I want it to be self-sufficient, and without being pigheaded, I want it to provide its only life source and its own rules, so all aspects can be judged using its own relativity. This comes from not having an education I suppose, and having to make up your own game. Much like the poor kid, without the real toy, or game, they make up their own version of the real thing, out of bits of wood, old clothes and broken dolls, you know?
Tyler: But isn’t that a blessing in disguise—having to amuse yourself? It makes you more imaginative? And lack of education, for an intelligent person, just makes you think outside the box, where new ideas and inventions lay.
John: Absolutely! But as I learn new things, I find myself wanting to implement them straight away. But I have to be careful of the style which has changed dramatically over the past four years. Only yesterday I was trying to categorize the change in style, and I think I’ve formulated a progression that gives my development some sort of artistic spin.
I can say the Trilogy: John Lazoo, Wipe, etc. is work influenced by Impressionism. GUIOPERA I by Surrealism and GUIOPERA II and stuff I’m working on now is Realism influenced. But clearly, I insert Impressionism and Surrealism wherever I can. Ultimately, I’d love to use all three styles i.e. in the GUIOPERA format, I can have PART 1 written as an Impressionist would, and Part 2 Surreal and 3 classical, you know?
Tyler: Wow, that all sounds like very serious literature and you obviously have a real devotion to creating the work properly, but on a less serious note, you keep producing stories in a sort of serial manner that reminds me of comic strips or comic books, especially the superhero kind, where the story continues on and on. Would you say Batman, or any DC or Marvel comics, or their cartoon or movie equivalents, were big influences on your work?
John: Definitely! Well, they are influences on me personally and the way I treat my lead characters who are molded on so many influences, from De Niro’s Taxi Driver to Nicholson’s Cuckoo to the Batman, and in the end, I think the result is Lazoo is an Antihero.
But to answer your question, as a concept, comic books, soap operas, sitcoms are all tried and proven formulas for telling a saga, for whatever reason—advertising revenue? Building a fan base? All of them I was mindful of when I constructed etfiction and then the GUIOPERA format, which will have other derivative products as time goes on.
Oh, by the way, Little Lazoo in GUIOPERA II is a Christian Bale Batman fan.
Tyler: You strike me as a writer whose imagination has run wild and the characters and stories pull you in all directions. Early on, I believe you told me you had some sort of master plan written out for all the characters and books, or am I wrong? Are you still writing the books you planned out, or do you just add as you see fit? How do you decide which story next to focus on?
John: When I started out, I had this story about this guy (Lazoo) an illiterate; a representation of myself and where I was in life—unable to fulfill any of my potential due to not being able to do the fundamentals—function day-to-day, communicate, I was dysfunctional. Through finding myself, which took all of John Lazoo, WIPE, Illicit, the POEMBOOK to get out, I suddenly realized I had been able to create things.
Early 2007, I realized what I had created, and I told myself to pretend I was this massive Superstar on the Internet, and to start behaving like one, and treat the work with due respect.
Harry Potter was at its peak; George Lucas announced he was taking Star Wars to TV. And so I took a whole year off to plan how I was going to present the stories as an end-to-end saga, and to watch the market place, and also the Internet download thing—with YouTube vs. pay for stuff. And also Hollywood, which was a really interesting period with Scorsese’s Departed, The Good German, The Good Shepherd all having this weird ass feel about them, which felt a lot like what I was trying to do—Character-centric story, void of location, environment, like Impressionism with Surreal expression.
After reading reviews of my work and admitting to myself that I had long way to go in terms of conforming to convention, I decided to divert all energies to creating a format, that could be accepted in the mainstream, and also appear as a progression in my evolving style—GUIOPERA I, which was not perfected until eBook BrocoliFlower.
Then I looked at the story and said to myself I had to tie Lazoo and Polina Rada into one story and came up with the New American Dream, which I write about in eBook Jon Le Mac Book 1.
But at the end of the day, like you point out to me, for which I am grateful, it’s all about John Lazoo.
Tyler: In my last interview with you at the beginning of this year, you mentioned your father, who was a taxi driver, wanted you to be a doctor. Has his passing away affected the work? You mentioned that you were lost for a month.
John: It’s crazy how things go. I normally never mention real people in my life in the work, and when I do, I try and disguise them, so only they know what I’m on about. But something made me single out my dad, who was an immigrant from Western Samoa to New Zealand in the 50’s. Yeah, he wanted me to be someone and get an education. But that’s not the way things went. My sister, who’s a TV producer back in NZ, went to University—you guys call it college; my brother in Sydney, Australia is a chaplain; he did Uni also. And even my brother who lives down at Surfer’s Paradise studied law for a bit. I dunno; well I do, but I can’t quite put my finger on the exact reason why I didn’t do what my father wanted me to do. But the answer to your question is a definite Yes. GUIOPERA II I think is my chance to pay respect to him for what he did for himself, and in that respect, for all fathers out there who left their home countries as young men in pursuit of something better for themselves.
Tyler: You mentioned in BrocoliFlower somewhere that John Reyer does what he does because of a promise he made to his mother on her deathbed. Is there any truth in that?
John: Mmm…yep! BrocoliFlower Chapter 3 Part 1 on Page 13 Metofeaz Litigatti tells Lavenda Stevonsen that John Reyer’s a pretty serious type of character and that all shenanigans and the carrying on is in aide of fulfilling the promise.
It’s actually weird that I talk about this in what is essentially marketing of my work, which is for personal gain. But I’m comfortable with what I’ve done, and that is I’ve basically sold my soul to the world. And for such a private person, which I am, it is really interesting to me how I could do that to myself. I suppose my self-destructive tendencies have taken on a new twist. I unwittingly used to find myself in some dangerous situations; now that I am doing something positive, I find myself having messed my life up by writing John Reyer Afamasaga into the books.
Tyler: I was just going to ask you about that—you said you normally don’t incorporate real people in the stories, so what made you decide to fictionalize yourself?
John: From 2002 till my father’s death, I couldn’t find a “reality” that suited me. I was going through change, leaps and bounds, but everyone around me still saw me as who I used to be. Transmutation, a process where the old you mutates into the new you, is meant to be a seamless process, as you have day to day responsibilities which you have to fulfill; some of those tasks are performed under circumstances created by the “old” you. I needed somewhere to live as the old me, as I was being treated, when in actual fact I was a different person now, which no one would accept. So in day-to-day life, I was at war trying to maintain my new self, and in the books I was able to release all frustrations and negative energies.
Tyler: Why would you say you’ve messed up your life by fictionalizing yourself?
John: I’m pretty private, and I feel I was forced into doing what I did. But in saying that, I think I can handle anything that comes my way now.
Tyler: Is the fictional you the one you want to present to the world—a way of being extroverted, while still protecting yourself from exposure?
John: All I know is God has a plan, and I feel that I’m a very lucky guy to be able to spin things in my head to cope with the reality I find myself in.
Tyler: While you’re in this open frame of mind, would you mind explaining why you’re feeling great, when you’re father has just passed away, and in your words you’ve ruined your life?
John: I suppose it’s got to do with how I now feel responsible for my family name. I’m extremely task oriented, and I have a task now. I accept that as a son, while my parents were alive, I was a total failure. But now that that Chapter has ended, I feel like I have an opportunity to begin a new Chapter.
My sister’s son, my nephew Teddi, made a representative rugby union team. I received an email from his parents saying, “He played for his Granddad!” And I watched his little brother Sano play rugby on Youtube.
Tyler: Is there a woman anywhere in your life at the moment?
John: I have a few very good friends who helped me through the time I was lost. But I’m not even looking for anything like that. I believe she’ll find me when she’s ready.
Tyler: When does GUIOPERA II begin?
John: Saturday 5th September 2009. It goes as all GUIOPERA’s do, till Christmas day.
Tyler: And I trust there were will be more works to follow it?
John: Most definitely, my friend. Let’s put it this way, Missy, Lazoo and myself are already working on LAZOO II—GUIOPERA 5, in which Genisis Jones is pregnant.
Tyler: Do you think you’ll always write about these characters—Lazoo, Genisis, Polina and all the others, or do you foresee a day when you give them up, and start a whole new fictional saga?
John: I’ve planned till 2020 using Lazoo and co. At the moment, Lazoo, Genisis, Polina, Missy, Metofeaz, Le Mac and the rest of the cast have been good to me, and like I said, the poor souls have inherited a lot of issues in the story I have to resolve for them. For example, in the GUIOPERA II, Little Lazoo is one messed up guy; he suffers panic attacks; he has self-mutilation tendencies. I have to help Lazoo’s son resolve issues, his dad and I are responsible for.
But to answer you question in full, if for whatever reason I was not able to carry on the franchise I have painstakingly crafted, almost costing me my sanity at times, I am pretty confident I could create something bigger and better, in a reality where I was who I really am.
Tyler: Hmm, and just who might you really be? Are you saying you’re a limited being in the real world, rather like your characters are entities inhabiting human shells? Do you think we are all capable of greater things and life gives us blinders?
John: Tyler, it’s sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning here. After I answer this question I have to ready myself to face the day as a normal person, working in a day job, to pay the rent. I write when I can. One day I hope to write when I want.
Tyler: Okay, John. Sorry to keep you up all night. Just one last question. What’s the website address where people can go to read GUIOPERA II, starting on September 5th?
John: Sure. It’s easy to remember: http://guiopera.com/
Tyler: Thanks again, John, and good luck with your books. However many fans you have, I know they’re waiting to find out what happens next.
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