Thursday, May 26, 2011

Interview: Lory Kaufman

Curling Up By The Fire would like to welcome Lory Kaufman, author of The Lens and the Looker and The Bronze and the Brimstone.  A fellow Canadian, he loves science fiction and historical fiction, something he has combined in his exciting Post-Dystopian trilogy.  He also enjoys art, and has acted, written, and directed children's musical theatre. 

 1) To start off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I'm a 60 year old guy who’s wanted to write futuristic novels since I read Lord of the Flies when I was 14. Since then, as a young man, I’ve been a children’s theatre writer, actor, director, and then, as an adult, had many different businesses. Oddly enough, all my life experiences surface in my writing career. My children’s theatre stint probably influenced my desire to write young adult books and helped me become good at dialogue. The years I then spent in sales, marketing and graphics, as an adult, is really helping as a starting author, since writers really have to really get involved in the business side of their careers now. And one of the businesses I started was when I was highly involved in the Green Party movement all across North America. I provided election supplies for people running for the Green Party. You can see a lot of my ecological philosophy peeking through the story.

2) Can you tell us a little about your novel, The Lens and the Looker?

The Lens and the Looker is the first installment of a trilogy. It’s based on Edmund Burke quote, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." It’s the story of three spoiled teens from the 24th century who are kidnapped back to 14th century Verona Italy. There they must adapt to the harsh medieval ways or die. The 24th century where these youths come from is an almost perfected society, where there is no pollution, strife, hunger or degradation of human or natures spirits. And to make sure that society has people in it that really appreciate the world they were born into, all youths must spend time at places called History Camps. These are full sized recreations of cities from Earth’s distant pasts. Here youth spend time living exactly how their ancestors did, experiencing the depravations that people had to go through. When these “hard cases” refuse the valuable lessons History Camps have to offer, they are taken back to the real past and abandoned. Now, with no social safety net, we see how the characters cope and, hopefully, grow.

3) What inspired you to write The Lens and the Looker? How much research was involved in the writing?

As I said above, I’ve loved dystopian literature since I read Lord of the Flies when I was 14, and with my green studies, I’ve wanted to use my writing to be part of a conversation with youth about the future. That’s my inspiration. As far as research, I spend over a year studying about 14th century Verona, through books and online, I employed several European researchers and . . . the best part . . . I spent four days in Verona, Italy, after the year of research. As this small city still has many of the buildings and streets from this era, I suddenly felt my characters much closer, and was literally walking through the streets and through the churches with them. I’ve been very pleased that many of the reviews of the book have commented how they got a history lesson, although they didn’t feel it was overt in the prose. That makes me very happy

4) What was your greatest challenge while writing this novel?

Since this was my first novel, the biggest challenge was just to keep going and finish. It took four years, not only to research and write, but to bring my writing craft to the point where I was competitive and caught the eye of people in the industry. However, one thing that is very true . . . a writer does not necessarily write for the success of being published, but because they have to. From that point of view, it wasn’t a challenge at all. I had to do it and couldn’t help it.

5) In this novel, we are introduced to some very interesting and intriguing characters. Who was the most fun to write about? Which character presented the biggest challenge? Are any of your characters modeled of anyone you know in particular?

I honestly can’t think of anyone specific who influenced my characters. I do try to write colorful characters, like the ones who live in my memory from many Charles Dickens or Mark Twain stories. I tried to draw the characters, like Agistino, Ugilino and Arimus to be bigger than life, earthy and flawed, but occasionally insightful. But even when they’re over the top, I want my characters to still be three dimensional. Even when they’re doing something despicable, the reader must understand their motivation. Everyone is a creature of their experiences. That must come through. As far as a character being a challenge, I don’t find writing and differentiating characters a challenge. It just comes. How successful I am is up to the reader. However, when I’m writing dialogue, I do think of different actors. Sometimes I would think of Patrick Stuart doing the Arimus lines, other times, I would imagine his exact opposite, Dan Aykroyd. Totally different interpretations, but they could still work, I think.

5) What are 3 things that are 'must haves' when you write? Do you have any writing rituals?

I like to write in a quiet room, with a comfortable chair and a big monitor. I drink pots of Yerba Mate tea, which is an organic, South American tea that really helps the concentration. Other than that, there’s no ritual, just work that I love. I like to say, though, that I write by ass-mosis. That is, I put my butt in the chair every day and don’t stop until I’ve accomplished something I like. Then, at the end of the session, I spend five or ten minutes writing down the walls I’ve hit, the questions I must answer, before I continue the next day. I then forget about them till the next day and usually my subconscious has done its job and come up with all the needed, creative answers.

6) Can you share with us any projects that you are currently working on or plans for the future?

The sequel to The Lens and the Looker, entitled, The Bronze and the Brimstone, is being released June 7th. So that’s done. I’m now working on the third book of the trilogy, entitled The Loved and the Lost.

7) Favorite authors?

I’ll break this up by category.

Young Adult Dystopian authors

 1. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley 2. Unwind, Scott Westerfield 3. The Giver, Lois Lowry 4. The Road, Cormac McCarthy 5. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins 6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding 7. The Percy Jackson Series, Rick Riordan (middle grade, but I really like his work) 8. Spin, Robert Charles Wilson Science Fiction 9. Kindred, Octavia Butler
10. Hominoid Series by Robert J. Sawyer
11. Ender’s Game (and the series) by Orson Scott Card (It’s got little kids as heroes, and it works.)
12. Handmaiden’s Tale, Margret Atwood
13. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
14. Ringworld, Larry Niven
15. The House on the Strand, Daphne du Maurier General Fiction
16. 1000 Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini (I love this guy’s written voice.)
17. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway (One of my top five.)
18. For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway (My favorite book of all time. He’s the only writer I’m putting in twice. This book informs all my high adventure sequences.)
19. City of Thieves, David Benioff
20. The Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman

8) That is certainly quite a list, and many of those are favourties of mine. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I’m always writing, even when I’m not writing. But I must get away from my desk, from time to time, to keep my body and mind healthy. That’s when I walk, play golf, squash, canoe, go to art galleries, give dinner parties, and go to movies. But my subconscious is always working, as I described before, and when I go to the gym or go on walks, I’m always listening to audio book novels.

9) Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

Yes, I would like to share that between May 24th and June 6th, 2011, The Lens and the Looker is being given away FREE on Amazon. This is in celebration of the release of The Bronze and the Brimstone on June 7th. My publisher, Lou Aronica suggested this so thousands more people will become acquainted with my work and then will want to buy my second . . . then third . . . book.

(click here, to download your FREE copy: )
Thank you so much for being a guest on Curling Up By The Fire.  Good luck with your release of The Bronze and the Brimstone on June 7th.
Readers, look for my review of both The Lens and the Looker and The Bronze and the Brimstone, as well as a guest post by Lory Kaufman.


  1. I love dystopian novels, but hadn't heard of The Lens and the Looker. So nice I was able to download it for free. If it's as good as it looks, I'll definitely read the next book, too.

    Thanks for the interview and for letting us know about the download.