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Stephanie Plum Bombshell Bounty Hunter series by Janet Evanovich reading order and synopsis

Ira Nayman

answers the Usual Questions

photograph, Ira Nayman, courtesy of the author; 220x259

Ira Nayman

Ira Nayman is a comedy writer. In the 1980s, he was a writer/performer with the Earth Two and Dead Air radio sketch comedy troupes. Since then, he has written 14 feature length screenplays and approximately 85 scripts for television, most of which are neatly divided into 12 original series. His web site Les Pages aux Folles started as a column of political and social satire.

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

In terms of what I write, not really. However, in terms of how I view myself as a writer, most definitely.

I decided I wanted to write humour when I was eight years old. I have been doing it steadily since 1984. But I only started getting my writing out to the public in 2002 (when I started my Web site, Les Pages aux Folles), and have only been going to public events like science fiction conventions to engage with potential readers for about five years. For most of my writing career, alone in my room, I had no idea if what I was doing was any good, or if anybody would be interested in it.

When I talk about my writing in public, people seem to like the ideas, even if they don't buy any of my books. Moreover, it's really nice when somebody who has bought a book one year, asks me if I have anything new for sale the following year. All of the positive feedback I have had from people has suggested to me that there might actually be an audience for what I write, that I wasn't a fool making that promise to myself when I was so young. The increase in confidence this gives me is important as I try to develop a professional career.

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

Sure. I forget which convention it was, but a woman there bought my first novel, Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience) on Saturday. On Sunday, she came back to my table and said, "I started reading your book last night and loved it. I don't know when I'll see you again, so I would like to buy everything else you have." She proceeded to buy my (at the time) three self-published collections of Alternate Reality News Service articles!

As I said, experiences like this make me suspect I may be on to something.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

Because I write humorous science fiction, I often get compared in reviews and interviews to Douglas Adams. That's flattering for many reasons (not the least of which is that I am a fan of his writing), but I try to discourage such comparisons; my sense of humour and writing style are very different than his, and I don't want anybody buying one of my books thinking that they're going to get The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and actually getting, well, me.

A much more important influence on my writing (one which only one or two reviewers have cited) is the television series Monty Python's Flying Circus and, in a similar vein, the early films of the Marx Brothers (which nobody has mentioned). Those two groups taught me two invaluable lessons about humour. The first is that there should be a high volume of humorous effects in a work, things to laugh at literally falling all over each other and competing for the audience's attention.

The other is to use every possible comic device at my disposal. Most humorous writers master one or two comic devices, which is fine as far as that goes (it's certainly better than being a humour writer who has not mastered any forms of humour). However, one key element of humour is surprise and, with high volume humour, the same types of jokes can get predictable after a while. By using as many different comic devices as possible, a writer can get the most laughter out of his/her writing.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

Neil Gaiman. More than most people, his mind contains multitudes -- I imagine I could get lost in it for days without being bored.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

Just about any right wing politician, pundit or Internet troll, although putting them all on a spaceship is an intriguing idea...perhaps a one way trip to Alpha Centauri...

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

Frozen pizza. And a microwave oven -- I don't like the idea of living in a Twilight Zone episode!

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

This is probably going to sound corny, but writing is its own reward. When I decided to devote my life to writing, I didn't devote it to becoming rich or famous or even making the world a better place. Those may come, but they aren't my focus. Using words to play with ideas in the realm of the possible is a wonderful gift to myself.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

Making 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. Life is hard; for most people, laughter makes it easier. I have come to understand that making people laugh is (almost) always a virtuous thing to do.

And, of course, making myself laugh. Given its importance in people's lives, I'm disappointed that I don't do it more. Because writing and rewriting holds few surprises, it is rare that I laugh at what I write, but, when I do, I feel as though I have shared in a kind of magic.

submitted by Ira Nayman

29 July 2014

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: long ago in a world far, far away (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Resides: same
NOVELS: Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience) and You Can't Kill the Multiverse (But You Can Mess With its Head) - published by Elsewhen Press
ALTERNATE REALITY NEWS SERVICE COLLECTIONS: Alternate Reality Ain't What It Used To Be, What Were Once Miracles Are Now Children's Toys, Luna for the Lunies!, The Street Finds its Own Uses for Mutant Technologies and The Alternate Reality News Service's Guide to Love, Sex and Robots - self-published
AWARD: 2010 Swift Satire Writing Contest winner

Web site:
Les Pages aux Folles
FACEBOOK WRITER'S/FAN/WHATEVER PAGE: Ira Nayman's Thrishty Friednishes


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