Thursday, 23 June 2016

INTERVIEW: Moran Chaim

Flurries Unlimited (FU) caught up with former military man turned author, Moran Chaim (MC), to talk about his first novel (Human Again), his work and what it's like to be a new author.  This is what we discussed: 

FU:  There are so many different genres to choose from, what inspired you to write post-apocalyptic fiction?

MC: In short, I just watched the news and imagined it 100 times worse. But really, there's been so much political turmoil in Israel in the past 5 years, and with everything that happened with ISIS. I felt like I had to digest all these experiences in the only way I know how - writing. There's not much else you can do as a single individual VS the world's politics. At the time, I was fascinated by the fact that while ISIS and Israel-Hamas fights are being covered by news outlets all over the news, the actually issue that can destroy modern society, the climate change, isn't getting covered as much if any. The reason, in my view, is that the climate change has no foreign accent and a beard. You can't report an enemy without a face and make it effective. I do feel that while terrorism is a major immediate concern, a climate crisis can be 100 times more devastating on a global scale. So I took those themes together, the immediate and the long term threats and combined them in one story that takes place in future Israel long after the climate crisis has stricken and society collapsed. There's no single apocalyptic event, just a series of wrong decisions and ignorance that lead to humanity destroying itself. I believe that my plot is more plausible that way. 

FU:  Being a former soldier in Israel must have given you a unique perspective on life.  In what ways do you think this affects your writing?

MC:  I can't say exactly how it affected my life in that manner because that would be an amazing self-psychoanalysis that would liberate me from a lot of other bad character trait I have, but...I can say this - Enlisting at 18 is mandatory for all Israeli men and it does brings about adulthood pretty fast. You turn from a nice little teenager to a soldier and this gives you self control, discipline and a more mature and balanced perspective on life. It's not all fun an games, there's a price to pay. Especially in Israel. And it gets you thinking about what's important in life and what are your dreams. (You have to put them aside for 3 years) I didn't want to be a full on combat soldier and luckily I was drafted to the Navy. In the Navy I learned a lot of people and leadership skills, and I realized that I want to give back to the world somehow. It was there on a missile ship's mast that I realize that I don't want to be an engineer or a therapist (two of my options). I wanted to become a screenwriter. First, I realized that no matter what I'll create as an engineer, some one could exploit it and use it against humanity or just sell it for the masses with no actual benefit. Secondly, I couldn't treat all the people in the world as a therapist. But as a writer I could reach so many people and try to affect them with stories. I know it sounds pretentious and naive but I could see the destruction and narrow-mindedness of people and I didn't want to contribute to that. Long story short, I gave up trying to be a screenwriter 3 years ago and started writing short stories in order to prove myself I can write a novel. And now, 2 years after I started, my debut novel is out there. 

FU:  Given the indie publishing market is largely US-centric, how do you adapt to that bias as an Israeli author? Do you notice a difference in the feedback you get from US readers as opposed to Israeli readers?

MC: Not at all, I actually think it will be in my favor. I'm not trying to Americanize or universalize my story. I do it differently in my own style and that can be a great differentiation from US born writers. Many of the world's best authors kept their stories close to home and at the same time told stories that reached millions. Milan Kundera (my favorite) Roman Gary, Haruki Murakami, Gabriel García Márquez and so on. I do agree that marketing could get harder while living outside the US but that's what the internet is for. I trust the adult readers' curiosity to lead them to my novel and realize its uniqueness.

FU:  They say that every character has some of the author in him/her.  Which of your characters is most like you?  In what way?

MC: Usually I see myself as the main character. Which is Roy in this case, but of course my alter egos and silenced opinions fill other characters' mouths. Like Roy, I've participated in the second Israel-Lebanon war, but unlike him, I was a Navy soldier. Witnessing the political events in Israel I asked my self why the majority of the sane and educated didn't fight to change the political situation. At least half of the nation knew were heading a dead end but their lives were too comfortable to give up instead of protesting and causing mayhem. That's Including me of course. So I asked my self what would make me actually fight for a cause. I saw how the world is doing almost nothing to stop ISIS, how the climate change is left unattended, how economies collapse one after the other. And while everyone knows the world is going south no one is actually doing anything to change the course. So I had to imagine a world where things slowly crumbled out of neglecting, fear and ignorance and let my main character find it's way to win a war he cannot escape. Trust me, after he already died once, it was hard to find a cause strong enough to make him want to fight again, In my novel Roy is faced with the same situation, having to choose between the predictable comfortable life against being a militant again. He needs to choose if he sees the shelter city as a prison or a haven. I had to find the precise motivation for him, the same thing I'm still looking for in me.

FU:  So what is on the horizon?  What are your new projects? When is your next new release?

MC:  The second book of the Cryonemesis series is called Better Human. It's going to be a direct continuation of the first book. I'm currently working on it and I hope to release it sooner than later.

FU:  Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.

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