23 October, 2015

#Interview with Israfel Sivad, #Author of The Adversary's Good News

About the Author:

Israfel Sivad is originally from Whittier, CA. He is the founder of Ursprung Collective, an international spoken word/music/visual art project, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. His first novel, Crossroads Blues, has been compared to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Palmetto Review) and the ballet Swan Lake (Penn Writer’s Review). His collected works are referred to as “Andrew’s Songs”.

Contact the Author:
Website * BlogFacebook * Twitter * Tumblr * Soundcloud * Instagram

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
Back in high school, I wrote lyrics and sang for a punk rock band. Shortly after graduating, I realized amid all the chaos and stage dives nobody cared about what I was actually saying. Everybody was too distracted by the anger in the music. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a storyteller. I wanted to distill my words without distractions. So there was no choice but to think about what I had to say.
Shortly after that, I was driving one day, listening to NPR, and it struck me that all the violence I’d participated in throughout my youth wasn’t a rebellion against the cultural forces I didn’t agree with. In fact, anger and rage is exactly what was expected of me. A Beethoven sonata came on the radio, and I felt that that was the rebellion I wanted to be a part of – a lifting up of culture rather than a tearing down. Ever since that moment, nearly everything I’ve done has been an attempt to become the greatest writer/storyteller I can possibly be.

What inspires you to write?
My parents got divorced the summer before I started fourth grade. And then, the summer after fifth grade, I moved to a different state. I wrote my first poem the night before I moved. It was called “Love Song”, and it was about the girl I’d had a crush on all the way through Elementary School. I knew I was never going to see her again.
In Middle School, I started writing every night to help me fall asleep. I wrote about everything: anger, sadness, indecision, fear… I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t not write. I didn’t know any other way to deal with everything going on inside of me.
Today, I still write because I don’t know what else to do with everything inside me. I remember my mom telling me when I was very young I didn’t have to say every thought that came into my head. Back then, I looked up at her, and I asked, “What do I do with them then?” She didn’t have an answer. Now, I know the answer is I write them down, and I send them off to you.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
My most recent project is a novel called The Adversary’s Good News. It came to me one day as I was on my way out the door to meet up with friends. I noticed a book sitting on the kitchen table. One of my roommate’s was reading Dante’s Inferno.
I remembered I’d loved Dante’s entire Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso) during college. In my opinion, it was really a love story at its heart.
I’d been trying to discover my next project for about a year by then. I’d started a bunch of ideas, but none of them ever felt quite right. I already had a title. I just didn’t have a story. That’s when I realized a title like The Adversary’s Good News had to be a divine comedy… inverted.
It came to me in a flash. I remembered I’d had a vision of a journey through something like the afterlife once upon a time during a waking dream. I wanted to tell you about that experience, and that’s exactly what I did.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
A major driving force for my overall project is the process of cataloging my internal experience through every phase of this life. That means I’ve dug through my writing history to find the best examples of how I’ve expressed myself at every age. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton I’ve written I don’t think is a well-executed description of how I experienced life.
So, yes, even with 5 collections of short stories, 5 collections of poetry, 2 novels, and a collection of essays all available on Amazon, there are still stories and writings I have tucked away in a storage unit back in my hometown that have never seen the light of day. My guess is many of them never will.

Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process has evolved over the years. When I was working on my first novel, Crossroads Blues, I had a hard time sitting still, but the novel was so important to me I had to get it done. I’d come home from work every night, put some loud music on (back then, I was really into classic rock… it was usually The Who or The Rolling Stones), and start writing until I was so focused on the words on the screen I couldn’t even hear the music anymore. That was when I knew I was in the zone, when I lost the world outside me.
With The Adversary’s Good News, I was living in this room in Brooklyn, New York that didn’t have any windows. When I got home, I’d turn on my computer and turn off all the lights. I was listening to a lot of 80s and 90s metal. I’d put on Judas Priest or Morbid Angel, and I’d write from around midnight till about 2 or 3 in the morning in the pitch black, with nothing but the computer screen’s blue glow lighting my way as heavy metal pounded into my brain.
Nowadays, I wake up early. I don’t really listen to music right now while I’m writing. I open the window blinds beside me, and I write in the silence and the morning’s natural light for about an hour or so before I go to work every day.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
The moment where Evius tells Christian he’s actually dead has always been one of my favorite parts of The Adversary’s Good News. It’s that flipping inside-out of the world we live in that changes the whole course of this book. It reveals so much about the relationship Christian and Evius are going to have as the book moves forward. Evius always maintains such a flippant attitude towards everything including death itself. While Christian is simply reeling from the moment Evius reveals this plot point until the very end. It unbalances the central characters and unhinges the novel’s storyline. It’s the moment that allowed me to let my imagination roam completely free as I constructed the rest of this project.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
As different as they are, Evius and Christian each contain a kernel of me in them, albeit from different directions. Evius, with his devil-may-care attitude, is my longing for chaos, while Christian is a version of me that’s been beaten down by that same longing. In many ways, the world Evius and Christian inhabit is my mind, and each of them represents a different voice in my internal dialogue. In some ways, The Adversary’s Good News is me working out the dichotomy between those conflicting voices and coming to terms with what some of my choices have done to the calmer pieces of my nature.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
When I first started writing, my early influences were horror writers like Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft, and their influence on me hasn’t stopped. I still put absolutely no limit on where my imagination goes. 
Over the years, I’ve fallen in love with dystopian novels like 1984 and Brave New World, and those dark settings have contributed to the worlds I envision. I’ve been enamored with classical poets like William Shakespeare and John Donne, and their conceits have most definitely informed what I choose to write about. Post-structuralist philosophers like Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida have contributed a great deal to the issues I deal with in my writing.
But I’d have to say my biggest influences today are stream-of-consciousness writers like William Faulkner and James Joyce. Their uses of language, internal dialogues, and mythologies have really tempered the way I write and how I look at constructing a book. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today if I had never been exposed to their work.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
When I graduated from college and was first starting to look for work, I was staying with my uncle in Rhode Island. One day, as my frustration with my miserable résumé reached a breaking point, he told me if I was going to be a writer, I had to say I was a writer. I had to believe I was a writer. I had to live it. Everything else would just get in the way.
I’ve carried that attitude with me to this day. It’s served me well at times, and it’s left me destitute at times. It’s had me writing until the wee hours of the morning, and it’s had me shouting manically at the moon, wondering why nobody’s paying attention. But that attitude is the only reason I’ve created what I’ve created over the years. It’s the only reason I eventually decided to self-publish in order to see my vision completed the way I wanted it completed, and in the end, it’s been the armor that’s kept me safe from “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Evius was originally based on a guy I knew when I Spending time in Charlottesville, Virginia, but his features eventually morphed into Russell Brand’s for me. Christian, Joshua, Zoe, Vesper and the rest of the cast are all based on people I’ve actually known as well, but they haven’t grown into Hollywood counterparts for me yet. I could tell you who I envision each person being, but since each one of the actors is merely from my own personal life, the names would be meaningless to the world’s culture at large.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I’ll soon be completing a collection of poems called We Are the Underground. Many of these poems are currently on my IsrafelSivad.Wordpress.com blog, but once the book comes out, I’ll be taking them down from there. So I urge you to go ahead and read them now to see if you like where my writing’s headed these days. I consider these poems my last foray into what I call “illuminated” poetry, which is how I characterize my poetry since completing The Tree Outside My Window. So it encompasses the collections The Tree Outside My Window, Indigo Glow, and Recipe for a Future Theogeny. This particular collection is divided into three parts, an opening movement, the “Zodiac” cycle, and a closing movement. Some of the “Zodiac” poems are what are on the blog now. I’ve been working on it for over three years now, and I hope to have it finished sometime in 2016.
My next big project is a new novel entitled Revolutionary Psychology. It’s the ideological sequel to The Adversary’s Good News. While the Adversary’s Good News deals primarily with the annihilation of the internal self, Revolutionary Psychology extends this idea to the world beyond the individual. It explores the implications of an external “nothing” rather than merely an internal one. In the end, like with all my projects, I’m enjoying writing it as I feel like I’m growing as a person and an artist throughout the process.

About the Book:

A divine comedy – inverted.
Christian Michael Anderson hasn’t been doing so well lately. He’s out of work, out of money, and out of alcohol. But when he loops a stolen rope through the exposed rafters in his ceiling and places that noose around his neck, his adventure has only begun…
Encountering joke-telling gargoyles, the “Great Beast” imprisoned in a cage, a drug-dealing Tinkerbell, and much more, Christian eventually realizes he’s entered a psychologically haunted world far beyond anything his nightmares ever envisioned. But it’s not until his final imprisonment in the serpentine city of Pandemonium that he realizes he’s been tricked into confronting his own, personal demons.

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