Interview with John Reyer Afamasaga, author of "Illicit Blade of Grass," "WIPE," and “John Lazoo.”
Today, Tyler R. Tichelaar of Superior Book Productions is pleased to be joined by John Reyer Afamasaga, who is here to talk about his original new novel “John Lazoo.”
John is the author of several ebooks, including “John Lazoo,” all of which are available at his website www.etfiction.com. He defines his work as emotional-techno fiction, which derives from the influence of technology, the assembly of techno music by dj’s, and emotion. More information about emotional-techno fiction can be found on his website, where John discusses the matter in an interview with Heather Froeschl. John’s work deserves wider attention than it has received to date, and the publishing world is becoming interested in transferring his work from ebooks into the print medium. John is here today to discuss why his books will be successful as published works of fiction as they reach a larger, if not mainstream, audience. John currently lives in Australia, but his novels are typically set in the United States.
Tyler: Welcome, John. I’m glad you could join me today. Emotional-techno fiction certainly sounds like a contemporary and timely genre for the twenty-first century. I mentioned above, and you have talked previously about the influence of modern culture, especially techno music, on your work. Do you view your audience as the younger generation raised on techno music, or do you have a broader audience in mind for your fiction?
John: Any audience would be great, but I believe that the people who will find emotional-techno fiction to be their “thing,” are those looking for more meaning to their fictional intake. Those looking for a realism, that makes you emotional even thinking that you are about to think about my characters Lazoo, Metofeaz, Polina Rada, or Rozelle and their stories.
Tyler: What about your novel “John Lazoo” is unique and compelling to your audience?
John: I think it’s the nerve of Lazoo the character, the author’s audacity to make such a claim and then, find a way to carry it off. And of course Genisis and John’s love.
Tyler: Would you expand on what you mean by the nerve of the character?
John: Lazoo is up for murder, at the mercy of the judicial system, Gene Reyer and Jack Shack. Yet, he challenges them in the Narrative, he questions the Law, not like everyone else does. But asks, if the laws are a derivative of the commandments from the Bible; hey, weren’t the two tablets smashed before they even reached the people?
Tyler: What is the claim you as the author are so audacious to make?
John: Lazoo is charged with murder, in “John Lazoo” we don’t even deal with the facts of the crime, instead we look at Love and egos.
Tyler: If publishers wished to market your books, in what creative ways might they gain an audience’s attention?
John: I’m the sort of guy who could easily front a camera. I would probably make a great motivational speaker and have a passion for causes from the Environment, through to economic development in developing countries amongst other things. Please be mindful, that we still have the characters, eg: Metofeaz actually wants to write our next book “Jon Le Mac” LIVE online, in real-time. Maybe with a quick edit, but Feaaz would like to do this over a 60 day period sometime towards the end of 2008.
Tyler: How will “John Lazoo,” even with its modern style, appeal to a younger audience that is less likely to read than their parents and grandparents’ generations?
John: “Lazoo” is totally pliable, without losing its great shape. “Lazoo Chapter Zero” had a lot more macho themes, than in “John Lazoo.” They naturally lend themselves to genres where Visual communication is the pull, Video Games, Music Video Clips, Film.
Tyler: John, I understand from your previous interviews that the emotional part of emotional-techno fiction is the emotion that arises from the audience as a result of reading the style or organization of the fiction. What is that emotion you are creating in the audience and expecting to receive as a response from them?
John: Very good question, Tyler. This is something I missed when discussing etf with Heather. That one of my initial concerns was, “how the … was I going to create an emotional experience for the reader, or how was I even going to make the reader emotional about Lazoo, Genisis, or Polina? Then I got emotional about the work and forgot all about any sort of feedback I guess. To be honest with you, if anyone has gotten emotional about the stuff, then I am a blessed man.
Tyler: And what is that emotional experience you want the reader to have?
John: Fall in love.
Tyler: Fall in love with what?
John: Sorry, experience the range of feelings one has when they fall in love. Or, would it be more appropriate to hope that the same chemicals are dispersed in turn.
Tyler: John, your works have many intertextual references. For example, a character in one book may be described as the author of another book. Is emotional-techno fiction a branch or type of postmodernism because of that intertextual play, or do you see it as a separate genre?
John: I love the way that we humans, are now well developed enough to have a name for everything, this ism, post and pre that era and so on, the real kick for me was being able to create a loop, somewhere in the work there is an entry point to join of this loop. I love the term “intertextual.” I got this from you, in an email and yes, as a reader absorbing text, the satisfaction of finding Metofeaz to be real is great. For a storyteller having a rhetoric this vast in terms of the options and possibilities available is I think a huge responsibility to have and to handle with the thought of the audience’s sensibility and so on. As far as a genre is concerned, I would love one, but Wikipedia says someone else has to suggest it for you.
Tyler: Why did you choose to make your main character, John Lazoo, illiterate? Are you making a statement or playing a game with the concept of literature here?
John: Playing the game to an extent, I suppose; life to me is much like that, you’re a player, a spectator or a commentator. Naturally a player wants to have some fun, but also as a writer, I feel like I am illiterate; I have a very wise, intelligent and patient man who edits my work. I have people like you and Heather who help me shape all the nonsense I think will market the work, so Lazoo is who I am, in that you only refer to someone as an illiterate, when they are required to read. In this case, I want a new life as a writer; to do this, I am required somehow to compete in a game where the players are educated, articulate, with words that mean, plenty.
Tyler: While emotional-techno fiction is a fascinating name for a genre, booksellers typically need to know where to put the book on the shelf. What standard genre—fantasy, romance, horror, literary—would you use to classify your books for placement on bookstore shelves?
John: I would love for the publisher to do that, but the books range from Young Adult, to Romance and will end up Fantasy, I hope.
Tyler: John, what makes you specifically qualified to write emotional-techno fiction? Is it your own creation, or do you know of other writers also creating this genre?
John: Now, that you qualify etfiction, by asking me if I am qualified to write it, in case there may be other great writers penning its era of creation, makes me go WOW. No but seriously, I guess it is because emotional-techno-fiction was as much about setting guidelines and manufacturing synthetic feelings through words, all of which were what I needed to do as a person going through changes and wanting a better life, so etfiction to me now is a way of life and hopefully a way of making a living.
Tyler: What work have you already done to promote your books and build an audience? John: I have experimented with Press releases using the LMLA-ink as actual characters, which was ideal for getting onto Google.
Tyler: What additional types of marketing plan would help a publisher sell your books?
John: Anything, that didn’t involve cruelty to animals and eating process food and drinking cask wine, I guess. Like I said LMLA-ink would like to write our next book LIVE online. Associated with this event, we have a concept that borrows ideas from what YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and places like the Gathering and Bebo have done. But we have a twist; we’d love to partner with as many of the names mentioned and build a bohemian like commune online complete with a simple algorithm that transforms this huge new cluster into an actual online game, which I have the simple rules for. This will take place over 30—60 days, in which Feeaz will write Jon Le Mac online. This can coincide with the staggered releases of the printed “John Lazoo,” “WIPE” and “Illicit Blade of Grass.” Inside the commune you’ll find the best Bloggers in the world, only seven of them, Online DJ’s who mix one massive track as Metofeaz and Lazoo, Le Mac and Afamasaga do their stuff. And one more thing. From the commune, we’ll select one special person as a character to write into the book being written LIVE online.
Tyler: That sounds fascinating and ambitious, John. What is it about this interplay between reality and fiction, such as writing in a real person as a character, that appeals to you?
John: It’s like being on stage, if you mess up, you get booed, or it’s game over.
Tyler: It sounds like your ideas of technological games via the Internet will really appeal to younger audiences and consequently to publishers. What is it about this technical capability that appeals to you so much?
John: Technology is an enabler. With it we have built the Internet, cured disease and now we’re using it to get excited about reversing what we recently believed to be irreversible, the condition of the Planet. But through the Internet, we’re changing people’s perception of Environmentalism. In essence what I mean is that it’s our attitude about the environment, which is being changed, from Business through to someone with an Ipod taking a feed from a portal somewhere out there, there are channels now. Enough greenie types are on the boards of the big companies and in Government, now it’s, how to push it to the “head, that is ready to live the change. That’s what I love about Technology. Oh, I believe the Egyptians got as far as embalming themselves; we have the foresight to preserve the Planet.
Tyler: Have you already submitted to publishers or literary agents, and if so, what responses have you received?
John: I have made one submission, and I am about to make several more.
Tyler: How many readers so far read or downloaded your books, and what kind of website traffic are you receiving?
John: On average, I get about 2-3 downloads per book, per day for the last couple of months.
Tyler: That’s about 100 books a month being read. Quite impressive for an author just starting out. Have you gotten any response yet from your readers?
John: Heather Froeschl says Lazoo is "masterfully poetic" And WIPE is "a fantastical idea. Interesting and entertaining, stimulating..."
Tyler: Is “John Lazoo” a one-time novel, or do you have plans for others? What would you foresee as the short-term and long-term future of emotional-techno fiction and also of your writing career?
John: “John Lazoo” is part of 10 books. “WIPE” and “Illicit Blade of Grass” are done and available at etfiction.com. With seven more—all of them conceptualized and ready to be spilled out onto a page.
Tyler: You’re obviously in this writing business for the long haul, then, so an agent or publisher would have a long-term client if they picked you up. Do you have any idea of what you will do once the ten books of the John Lazoo series are finished?
John: A real Biography, and then a Journal of what I have learned from the journey.
Tyler: John, will you tell us more about your website www.etfiction.com and what additional information can be found there for those interested in your books?
John: On etfiction you’ll find 2 small books of Poetry; the “POEMBOOK,” from which all the stories come and “Prōtokollon” another bunch of poems that sets up the new thinking for the rest of the journey. And of course there’s “John Lazoo,” “WIPE,” and “Illicit Blade of Grass.” Also you’ll find the Timeline that will aid readers in formulating their concept of Time, making the intertextual self-fulfillment of etfiction books less strenuous on the brain. Also under Concepts you’ll find a brief description of the next seven books with excerpts from “Jon Le Mac,” “John Poet Soldier,” and the one I can’t wait to do—“LAZOO II” “the Trafficker” where once again the Maestro deals with society’s inequities against itself; this one’s a bit more mainstream, since Lazoo has completely accepted the Love of Genisis, who is actually expecting their first child. Anyway, still believing he has to work with Afamasaga the rogue boss of LMLA-ink, he is sent back to pre World War II to investigate another conspiracy theory formulated against capitalism, and that is, American manufacturers employing the wives of many soldiers at war fighting fascism, were actually building Hitler’s Tanks, Planes and weapons. Lazoo is the Trafficker of the plans; it gives my man the opportunity again to say his bit, in motion, while seeing the world with his one working eye.
Tyler: If a publisher or agent were interested in contacting you to discuss your work, what is the best way to contact you?
John: Email, only because I am on the phone at work. email@example.com
Tyler: Thank you, John, for joining me today. You have certainly opened my eyes to a new genre of fiction. I wish you lots of success in continuing to refine your craft and bring it to the public’s attention.
Read also the book review here at Superior Book Productions for Illicit Blade of Grass.
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