Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Ira Nayman

I'm pleased to welcome you to another installment of Soapbox Spotlight!  Today, we're meeting with Ira Nayman, well-known for his hilarious sci-fi shorts.  He is winner of the 2010 Jonathan Swift award for satirical writing, and has several projects in the works, three of which he has already self-published.

Weird photo haha!  Tell us about yourself, Ira!

I have two self-published volumes in print, Alternate Reality Ain’t What It Used To Be and What Were Once Miracles Are Now Children’s Toys, and a third, Luna for the Lunies!, which is available in various ebook formats from Smashwords as well as in print. They are what I refer to as “comic science fiction journalism;” a couple of my readers have called the material “a science fiction version of The Onion.” It’s an odd concept, so I’m happy for whatever help I can get in explaining it. I have also produced the pilot for a radio series based on stories out of the first two books called “The Weight of Information.” It can be found, in two parts, on YouTube. I am currently looking for a producer/broadcaster for the entire series.

What are your goals as a writer?

My main goal is to make people laugh. I used to write for a magazine called Creative Screenwriting. After 9/11, the editor sent out an email asking for articles for a special edition that would deal with the issue of the role of the writer in times of national crisis. My response was a piece called “Laughter is Always Appropriate,” in which I extolled the healing virtues of laughter. I have come to understand that making people laugh is (almost) always a virtuous thing to do. (This article, along with other examples of my non-fiction writing on film, can be found in the archive on my website.) In addition, there is a large vein of satire in my writing. If I can make people think about the state of the world and/or their place in it after the laughter has died down, I have achieved all that I could have hoped for.

Would or have you considered writing in another genre?

I decided that I wanted to devote my life to creating humour when I was eight years old, and I have been doing it on and off ever since. Humour takes many forms and is easy to mix with other genres, and, since I am always looking for new projects to expand my vision, I have taken the opportunity to dabble in avariety of them. In addition to science fiction and satire, I have written comic fantasy, comic horror, romantic comedy, situation comedy, surrealism and absurdism.

Have you developed a specific writing style?

I look at the world (every writer’s raw material) from a skewed angle, then layer a lot of different kinds of humour into my writing. This gives readers many ways into my writing: they can coast along with the word play and silly names, or they can dig deeper and find rich veins of the bizarre and the absurd.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?

My willingness to go wherever my muse takes me. Writers generally, but comedy writers in particular, have to be brave enough to say what they feel needs to be said in the way that they best express themselves. Whatever inhibitions I have in other areas of my life (and, being a recovering shy person, I have plenty), I am proud that I have never avoided writing anything no matter how uncomfortable it made me (or I suspected it may make some readers) feel.

What do you love about independent publishing?

I wrote well over a million words before I started seeking an audience in earnest. This allowed me to develop a voice that is uniquely my own. If I had found a publisher early, I may have had to conform to other people’s expectations of what humour I should write, and I may not have gotten to the level I am now.

If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?

Don’t try to divert a herd of charging rhinos with a copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Either that, or try not to take life too seriously, especially the things you usually take the most seriously. It’s a toss-up, really.

RJS Book Review

Luna for the Lunies is a compilation of “articles” written by reporters employed by ARNS, the Alternate Reality News Service.  Each article details the various happenings through the universe involving outrageous people, “monsters”, and alien beings.  The whole of the world has been turned topsy-turvy, with ironic (and mostly unpronounceable) names and bizarre occurrences that are hilariously absurd.  Woven in between these pieces is an-ongoing story called “Reality Threshold” about Brenda, a young journalist, who can’t seem to avoid trouble—mostly because she goes looking for it.

Witty and ridiculously funny, Luna for the Lunies will definitely have you laughing out loud!  Nayman takes the political and social issues of our world and satirizes them with vivid imagery and humor.  I especially enjoyed the section titled “Alternate Technology”.  While it is the first section of the collection, I truly almost wet myself laughing aloud at technological “improvements” gone horribly awry.  It reminded me of Dave Chappelle’s recurring skit “When Keepin’ It Real Goes Wrong” because Nayman’s depictions of an evolved and advanced world mimic in the worse way how our elitist mentalities can corrupt even the smallest of things.  Western culture and beliefs show their influence even in alien worlds, and mistakes our government has made light of become catastrophic in Ira’s alternate universe.

I truly enjoyed every moment of this book.  While the language is heavy and often had me reaching for my dictionary, the satire is honest and endearingly comical.  And let’s face it, America, we need to laugh at ourselves sometimes.


4/5 suns: This book can feel like a long read if you don't like sci-fi, but it is definitely entertaining nonetheless!


You can find Ira at the following links:

Les Pages aux Folles
http://www.lespagesauxfolles.ca/

The radio pilot can be heard:
“The Weight ofInformation, Part One:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GdLRV-S4mY
“The Weight of Information, Part Two:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIXAi9gnpSk

You can find Ira's books here:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/183-5048934-6144148?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ira+nayman

Luna for theLunies! (various ebook versions):

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