Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Interview with author Uri Kurlianchik

1.) Uri, what can readers find in your writings that they aren't likely to find elsewhere?

Israel! And I mean this in two ways. First, there's been a lot of talk recently about fantasy mostly depicting societies based on medieval Europe. Now this book (Tales from an Israeli Storyteller) draws its fantastic elements from the Middle East and from the tales and beliefs of the Levant, both ancient and new. I hope people will find this perspective refreshing and, dare I say, educational.

Secondly, although this is a work of fiction, each story takes place in a real location, which I explored with a bunch of really imaginative friends beforehand. So, in addition to being a collection of contemporary fantasy tales inspired by Middle Eastern and Jewish folklore (and not the nasty stuff you hear on the news!) this is also a well-researched travel guide. How cool is that, huh?

2.) You’re currently having an indiegogo campaign going on. For those who are unfamiliar with indiegogo, can you give the basics and explain what your particular campaign hopes to accomplish?

Indiegogo is like Kickstarter, only it allows non-Americans to run campaigns and you can curse there as much as you want. It’s **** great! Basically, you create a page for your campaign and ask people to help you finance it. In my case, I need money to pay artists, an editor, do layout and pay for gas (I like to research my stories really thoroughly). Unlike Kickstarter, I get to keep whatever I raise, even if I don’t reach my campaign goal. That being said, I hope to make at least $1000 because it turns out producing a quality book is really expensive! The more I raise, the more great art the book will have, so it’s really a great investment to make.

If you want to help, first, big, huge, colossal thanks in advance; secondly, go here and click the big pink button. The rest should be fairly obvious.

3.) Looking ahead to the future, where do you hope to be as a writer in five years?

It would be nice if a lot of people read my books and stories and had fun. I am a man of modest ambitions.

4.) You've got one of the coolest day jobs I've ever heard about. What exactly is it you do, and how did you land such a gig?

I play Dungeons and Dragons with kids aged 9-12 all over the state. We meet for weekly 90-minute-sessions in schools and community centers. I know it sounds like a very exotic job, but it's actually very common around these parts. I think most schools in Israel have a D&D program nowadays.

It started with a childhood friend calling me after we hadn’t spoken for years, and asking me if I’m still into D&D. “You can bet your ass I am!” I answered. “Good,” he said, “do you want to make money from it?” I answered, “Do I!” and so it rolled from there. If you want to read more about my job and the adventures it entails, just visit my blog

5.) Lilith vs. a golem, who wins?

That's a really tough question! I guess it really depends on who created the golem. I mean, if you look at historic golems, you have creatures that are only suitable to serve as comic sidekicks, such as the alchemical homunculus, and you have monsters so huge and powerful they can pulverize cities, such as the Golem of Chelm. They're big, tough and resistant, but they're also dumb as dirt, literally. Lilith is a lover, not a warrior, but she is almost as old as the universe, which is 5772 years (dodges a shoe thrown by science guys), very smart and has the support of desert animals, angels, demons and, I suspect, many fantasy enthusiasts. However, it seems the big guy in the sky isn’t very fond of her ... Hmmm ... I guess I'd go with Lilith. Unless the golem crushes her outright, she'll probably think of some cool way to destroy it.

By the way, both these characters appear in Israeli Storyteller, but in different stories so you don’t get to see them fight ... yet. You can, however, see their pretty pictures on the cover.

6.) What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?

Wow! Where to begin? When I was five, I climbed the roof with my grandma, even as everyone else hid in shelters, and watched American rockets duel with Iraqi rockets in the sky. I went on a trip to Nablus once, which if my mom ever finds out she'd kidnap me and lock me in a safe basement for the rest of my life. I once drank a cup of tea with thirteen spoonfuls of sugar. Ahh ... the ensuing rush ... But the prize probably goes to a little border incident I had during my military service. I was at the Syrian border and we were just told by HQ that there has been a suspected breach. It was an incredibly misty night -- if I held my hand outstretched, I couldn't see the tips of my fingers. I was sitting there, a little nervous because I couldn't see anything and the whole base rung and clung in the wind. Suddenly, I heard someone rocking the gates. My heart leaped. I ordered them to identify themselves in Hebrew, Arabic and English. No response. I cocked my rifle and approached the gates, hopefully looking like John McClane and not like Stormtrooper #827. I reached the gates and what do I see? A huge porcupine trying to enter the base. It actually stood on its hind feet and shook the gates with its front paws. I let it in, why not?

So yeah, my stupidest act was probably attempting to perform an arrest procedure on a particularity large porcupine ...

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Don't mess with a porcupine, I suppose. Enjoyable interview. :)