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Ahn Kyubo– Writer

Ahn Kyubo is an award-winning fantasy horror writer. His first novel–Mortazarro–instantly achieved cult status. His sequel–The Dya Chronicles–is scheduled to be released this September. The new installment is a sequel to Chronicles of the Opera where opera hero Dya Singh is first introduced.

What inspired you to be a writer?

I’ve always been fond of writing. It’s always been a way to escape into a new world and experiment with the imagination. It’s also been a place for me to collect my thoughts and make sense of things going right or not going right in my life.  A form of meditation.

What is Mortazarro about?

Mortazarro is much more of a universe than a story. It s basically the Devil’s Opera where souls are hijacked from our world to play part in this intensely violent, psychedelic, Tim Burton ish opera. Actually I’m not the only one writing in the Mortazarro universe. There are several authors writing Mortazarro stories, but I’m specifically writing the stories that revolve around one particular Opera Hero–Dya Singh. He’s basically this bad-ass gangster from Surrey, Vancouver, who willingly enters the opera to save his brother Taran Singh. Dya is Taran’s younger brother and Taran–long before he was shanghaied into Mortazarro–helped Dya  get out of the streets and back on the right path if you will. But one day Dya’s bigger brother goes missing. After much investigation Dya soon discovers that Taran was a victim of a cursed opera, and, refusing to let his brother go through hell alone, follows him straight into Mortazarro and vows to bring him back dead or alive. Dya, in Mortazarro, quickly realizes the incredible power of music, and as he discovers the power of music and words in this living hell, he rediscovers the power of his religion, Sikhism. Why I chose this particular religion is because a friend intorduced me to it and I soon discovered the entire holy book of Sikhs is truly a collection of hymns and ragas that are powerful and meaningful and from my understanding almost seem crafted to elevate the soul above great darkness. My original Opera Hero was a game designer–Jordan–and he used his acute knowledge of games to beat the Devil’s Opera. In another series of books I used an actual music student studying opera who used her knowledge of classical opera to survive the Devil’s Opera. For the main character I was looking for a person with a strong almost instinctual background in music that had ties to our world. Well, my fried teaching me about the Sikhs was almost like an omen. When the Sikhs abolished the caste system in India many centuries ago they were persecuted by the upper castes who to protect their power did things to these people that are totally and completely genocidal in nature. Music and hymns, I’ve been told helped them rise above this darkness. So with that kind of backstory, I knew I had a solid character for my Mortazarro universe. I knew I had a hero that by his very instincts would want to stay in hell to help stranded souls escape. Anyway, if you research the musical and warrior side of the Sikh religion you will see it was a sensible choice.

What is the main theme of Mortazarro?

Remembering who you are and where you come from so that the opera doesn’t destroy your essence and make a mindless minion out of you. That’s it, that’s all. Of course I explore the power of music. But that is not the premise. The premise is holding on to your truth so that you can navigate through worlds as hellish and wild as Mortazarro.

What are you working on now?

I’m working with several writers to see where we are going to take the Dya Singh stories. I’m also working with an author who proposed an Opera Hero which I like very much and which they will be writing about. The universe of Mortazarro is expanding, and that is why I define it as a universe and not a story. I hope to have at least a dozen writers working on Mortazarro stories by the end of 2114. I’ve already got six so it’s very possible. anything is possible.

Where can we read more about your work?

People can pick up the Mortazarro books in bookstores, or they can just visit Amazon which always has the best deals. I think, anyway. If writers have an Opera Hero that would fit well in the Devils Opera and they would want to write about, they can contact me at ahn.kyubo(AT) gmail.com. I get like hundreds of email every day so please be patient.


Game designer Jordan Williams is about to enter a world beyond anything he has ever imagined. After a brief argument one night with his girlfriend Micaela he storms out of their apartment and heads to a secret, underground opera. Performed by a mysterious band of gypsies, the opera unexpectedly opens a temporary interdimensional gateway and Jordan is unwittingly vacuumed into another world. Marooned in a seemingly boundless musical world known as Mortazarro he is asked by invisible entities to suffer and play his part as protagonist in the Devil’s Opera. Guided by the journals of heroes’ past, he slowly learns how to harness and wield the power of the opera as he desperately searches for a way home.

Interview conducted by Jolene Owen.

Copyright 2005-2011, Jolene Owen. All rights reserved. This interview is free to copy, publish and circulate. You may reprint or publish it without permission in any format. Please credit: Jolene Owen as interviewer. The views expressed herein are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the interviewer or the official position of the publishing company, its various departments and/or the Institute of Interactive Journalism. If you’d like to be interviewed, or would like to send our team an interview, or just send us lots of gifts and candy, contact us at: inspiring.interviews@gmail.com.  Please do not try to contact interviewees through the institute. We never release confidential information or fwd messages. No exceptions.


Gabriel Frizzera– Graphic Novelist

Gabriel Frizzera was born in Brazil in 1975. Son of an architect with artistic inclinations and a politician with writer’s soul, he soon developed the taste for art and storytelling. Soon he was writing and drawing his own stories, and started distributing them where he could, from the university to alternative rock concerts. After working briefly in the advertising world, Gabriel decided to fulfill his dream to live off his art. He moved to Canada with his son-to-be wife Claudia in hopes of finding a place where he could meet talented people from other places and learn with the experience. Today he works as a concept artist at Electronic Arts Canada, and creates his own graphic novels. In the last two years he published two books, Isthmus and Heavy Metal Heart, and it’s working on a couple of more projects for 2007.


What made you want to become a writer?

Like many kids, I always felt the urge to give voice to my imagination and tell stories. The first way I found to do that was by drawing. But while most children abandon drawing as expression when they grow up in favour of writing (a far easier “code” to master if you want to be understood in a simple level), I followed another path and kept drawing every day. I wanted to be an artist.

It was much later in life that I understood something about my own desire to create: I loved drawing so much not because I loved images, but because I loved creating. While some ideas are better expressed by images, only writing has this mysterious quality of stimulating the imagination of the readers, who can complement the text with their own experience. I started then to write my own stories and also draw them, combining image and text in my own graphic novels.


Was the journey difficult?

I always had the full support of my parents to follow my creative dreams. I come from a family that always loved to read and discuss ideas, and this environment was very fertile for me to find my own voice. Unfortunately, the world outside is not as forgiving. Sometimes harsh critics and closed doors can take away your enthusiasm while you’re still developing your style. I hit a lot of walls, but my love for storytelling was always stronger. Even when I could not find an audience, I wrote for myself, always trying to improve my technique. Eventually, I found and audience for my writing, or they found me.


Any lessons learned on your writer’s journey?

First, everything people say about your work is just opinions, not necessarily the truth. Sometimes people’s opinions motivate you, sometimes they discourage you; but either way you have to take all of them with a grain of salt, learn what you can and move forward. Many people create beautiful stories and never let anyone see them, for fear of being criticized. It’s absolutely crucial to put your work out there, and grow from people’s reactions.

Second, don’t get attached to your ideas like they’re the only ones you could ever have. It’s a beautiful thing to have creative ideas, but if you are hanging to the same idea forever and never goes anywhere, just put it in a drawer and start something new. Give the ideas and stories the sweat they deserve, push them as much as you can, but don’t be afraid to throw it away, or completely change it. If you are a real writer (or any kind of artist for that matter) you’ll always be able to come up with more ideas, even better ones, if you keep your mind open and don’t get attached to just one “baby”.


Where does that inner drive to write come from?

Good question. I though a lot about it, and as I get older my own theories about it keep changing. But even without fully knowing the answer, one thing I know since I wrote my first story: it’s the greatest feeling in the world to connect to someone through your work. Of any the differences you the writer and the reader might have, for that moment reality is suspended; the person enters your world, and you communicate in a very deep way. That’s why I do it.


How do you keep readers turning pages?

I think that in all interesting stories information is always revealed in small doses, just enough to entice the reader to turn the page and know more. I take that to heart, and try to keep the pace gradual enough to maintain the interest. I usually take that to extremes, and characters often have a complex back story that is never fully revealed, just suggested (like the story is just a snapshot of a larger picture). I even put a lot of secret messages in the way people talk and act in the book, so if readers are really attentive, they can see foreshadows of what’s going to happen. That’s part of my fun when I write.


How often will you revise and re-write your work?

I often rewrite until the very last minute. Somebody once said that creative projects are never truly finished, only abandoned. I think that’s true. In all my stories there’s always something I want to improve, and there always will be. But now I know that most of the things I change by the end of the project nobody will ever notice, so I try not to be too nitpicking and just let go.


What are some creative ways you’ve learned to generate ideas?

Experience is everything for a writer, both good and bad moments. Talk to people, watch movies, internet, travel… you never know where the ideas will come from, and they usually arise from unusual places, so I like to be open. But it’s also important to know when to close the gates. I usually alternate the search for inspiration and the time to digest that inspiration and create. First I try to absorb everything and keep my mind open to the world outside; and then, when I’m ready to write, I isolate myself from strong influences that could dilute my creativity and style. That seems to work best for me.


What are some practical solutions for writer’s block?

Basically, time. Leave the work alone for awhile, and come back with fresh eyes. Go have a walk, try to think about something else. It’s a very efficient method, because sometimes you become too close to your own work, and you get stuck. Sometimes I need more time than others, but it always works for me.


Do you have a favorite book?

It’s hard to point just one, but there are some books that change my way of seeing life. One was Don Quixote. I was taken by the richness of the characters and the text. It was probably the first “grown up” book I read. Then there’s Moby Dick, which even to this day is very entertaining and alive to me, a breath of fresh air. I love everything by Jose Saramago and Umberto Eco. In the graphic novel world, I guess V for Vendetta was the one that really opened my eyes about the possibility of the medium in literary terms. Alan Moore is probably the writer who influenced me the most, and he keeps getting better.


Do you have a favorite time of day when you like to write?

I’m usually more prolific in the morning. I think because my mind is cleaner, and the logical part of my brain is not overanalyzing what the creative side does.


What is one saying or proverb you live by?

“We are what we think. With our thoughts we make the world.”


What advice would you give kids who wish to pursue a career in writing?

First, Read a lot. No way to become a good writer without it. Read everything, from the classics of literature to daily comic strips, and everything in between. All the things you read will mix in your head and combine with your own experience, creating your unique style.

Second, be true to your own experience. Even if you’re writing about some faraway planet or distant past, you have to bring something from yourself, or it will sound false to the reader. Try to learn with everything you experience, because eventually those things will find their way into you work, and they will resonate with people.

Third, write a lot. There’s no substitute for practice. If you write something great today, don’t waste too much time patting yourself in the back, go ahead and write more while you have the momentum. Just imagine how great your next work will be. You can only improve, while you get more experienced and learn new tricks.

Fourth, put it out there! If your work is in a drawer and nobody reads it, it doesn’t exist. Writing is communication, and you will see that this dialogue with readers makes you stronger as a writer. There’s no perfect book and it’s guaranteed that less than 100% of the readers will like your work. So make sure you do your best, and show it to everyone you think it’s going to help you improve. You can only gain from the exchange of ideas.


Where can parents and kids find out more about your work?

My two latest graphic novels, Isthmus and Heavy Metal Heart, published by Lulu, are on sale online at www.lulu.com/xgabo both in print and download formats. I am currently writing a new book tentatively called At First There Was the End, due sometime next year, which will be available online too.

Copyright 2005-2011, Jolene Owen. All rights reserved. This interview is free to copy, publish and circulate. You may reprint or publish it without permission in any format. Please credit: Jolene Owen as interviewer. The views expressed herein are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the interviewer or the official position of the publishing company, its various departments and/or the Institute of Interactive Journalism. If you’d like to be interviewed, or would like to send our team an interview, or just send us lots of gifts and candy, contact us at: inspiring.interviews@gmail.com.  Please do not try to contact interviewees through the institute. We never release confidential information or fwd messages. No exceptions.