* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), including author spotlights, guest posts, book reviews, flash fiction or poetry - new items posted 6am UK time Monday to Saturday and writing exercises at 6pm very weekday.
Thursday, 27 September 2012
Author interview no.312: Agron Shehu (revisited)
Back in March 2012, I interviewed author Agron Shehu for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the three hundred and twelfth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with sci-fi / fantasy writer Agron Shehu. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Agron. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Agron: I live in Canada. Wonderful place to live. Mountains, oceans and vast plains make your mind to generate realistic fantasies. Realistic fantasies, both of them don't make sense. Do they? Kidding.
Morgen: Sounds a bit like to the backdrop of Avatar and look how that turned out. :) What genre do you generally write and would you consider others?
Agron: I wrote my first book as a sci-fi / fantasy. The world to me is a fantasy, sci-fi fantasy. That's why I try this way. I have not considered other genres but might.
Morgen: Sci-fi fantasy is a hugely popular genre so if you enjoy writing it… :) What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Agron: To-date I have published the book "Human in SpaceTime ... What a Shock", under my first name AGRON. I love this name. It is a very ancient pagan Illyrian name.
Morgen: And I’d say perfect for your genre. :) Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Agron: So far no rejection. Usually I try not to have. If I would have I'll try to correct myself. Always it would be my fault, though if this will happen, which I hope not, I will take it as an opportunity for me to improve those that need to be improved and for me to be better in what I am doing, better writer and even better person, better than I am now. (Chuckles)
Morgen: A sense of humour is always a good start. :) Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Agron: As a petroleum engineer when I have decided to challenge in my workplace I have done it. I don't know if my book is shortlisted yet. Hope so.
Morgen: Fingers crossed. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Agron: Actually I don't have. But as not experienced in that field I would love to have one and see how it works.
Morgen: There’s little doubt that having an agent is usually a benefit but so many authors are going their own way nowadays, with things like eBooks. Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Agron: My book is an ebook. I am not involved at that process. Recently I read lots of ebooks in my iPad. It's so interesting. It so easy to have an ebook. It's cheap and you can have it right away and easily to find whatever you like.
Morgen: Isn’t it great. I bought a Kindle earlier this year and I love it. I don’t like damaging book spines and the Kindle stays open however much you might be tempted to bend it (please don’t, folks). How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Agron: To be honest not much. I have not much experience doing that. I didn't publish my book for a living. I wrote it to tell something to the audience. I think my book of sci-fi genre though has lots of very important messages.
Morgen: That’s the way that author should be – writing it to educate and entertain, rather than money (because that’s the hardest part). Do you have a favorite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Agron: I think Higgs or Hitt as a same character in my book, who decides to live in two different bodies. It is a unique character in the world of fantasy, though you can find him easily in the real world. Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise would be perfect.
Morgen: I’d go and see either of those two. Did you have any say in the title / covers of your book(s)? How important do you think they are?
Agron: Yes, the idea’s all mine. The title of my book tells a lot. It's so intriguing.
Morgen: It certainly is and presumably it encompasses the content of the book which is all-important. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Agron: I am still thinking about it. But it would depend on the success of my published book.
Morgen: Ah but what if someone really likes it – they may want to go and read something else. :) Do you manage to write every day?
Agron: To be honest not every day. My spiritual state is very important. I don't use such a thing.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Agron: Actually I plot my story based on what's happening in real life.
Morgen: Now that is intriguing. I don’t write sci-fi or fantasy but imagine them to be more fictional than factional… if you see what I mean. You mentioned Higgs and Hitt, do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Agron: My characters are so unique. You can find my characters as human being but at the same time as particles in physics, so very complicated. Usually you think it's like that but you don't see him. You never see particles in physics but you name them as quark, gluon or higgs based on unseen behaviors. Actually that behavior makes sense and that's the way you make computer or explain the world. Afterwards you try to reveal the hidden character behind that behavior.
Morgen: I like the idea of that. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Agron: Initially yes, but as time goes on it's easier.
Morgen: It’s all about practice. :) Do you have to do much research?
Agron: Yes a lot. I like so much the world where we live, though so tiny compare to the universe where there is no sign of human life. That's why the human mind is the "Fifth Dimension" in addition to space and time. Without the human mind, the universe where we live regardless its existence doesn't make sense. In my book I have given a definition of human existence as well. And that's a good reason I believe for research.
Morgen: Readers are very clever and they’ll pick out something if I didn’t do the research. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Agron: I started to write my book in first person. Someone more experienced than me suggested to use third person. And so I did. But to me even in first person is good to write as well. It's not usual but I think we need to "break" the rules. Be more interesting. Perhaps using second person as well, why not.
Morgen: Oh, yes, do. I love it. :) Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Agron: No I don't.
Morgen: Well, that’s good. I have a few I think. What’s your favorite aspect of your writing life?
Agron: When I write I feel myself quite different, like living in the world I describe, away from existing environment.
Morgen: Isn’t that great? :) What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Agron: Imagination and fantasy is very important.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Agron: I would pick someone in the future which means no need to cook, because he is not dependable on food. He exists forever. Not like nowadays that human affords his existence killing others or other beings. In my book I define nowadays human as "military humanoid".
Morgen: :) Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Agron: Definition of nowadays human: "Military Humanoid".
Morgen: :) What do you do when you’re not writing?
Agron: I am a Petroleum Engineer and I spend most of my time as such, to help my company to produce more gas and oil. But in my opinion that's not good, because if you read my book I consider that energy as a main factor that human race is fighting and suffering a lot and contaminating the environment. Because of that kind of energy we have generated the technology associated to produce the existing cars which need existing roads. Oh how many roads. Look on earth how many roads we construct as human. More than 70% of human efforts goes to building roads, endless roads. And the available aircrafts which the biggest cargo they transport is its own fuel. This is because of oil energy not the right one for human on earth. Someone needs to read my book to find out the best one and how.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful?
Agron: www.engadget.com is the website where I find the news on advanced high tech and Large Hadron in Suisse to learn for new physics.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Agron: I am a member of Facebook and LinkedIn but not that interesting.
Morgen: I like them but they’re oh, so time-consuming. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Agron: Selectivity, not commerciality.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Agron: www.agronshehu.com and as the character you can reveal it if you read my book.
Morgen: :) Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Agron: There are lots of things to be mentioned but perhaps it's becoming boring or may be entertaining.
Morgen: A return visit then perhaps. :) Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Agron: What do you suggest in order people read my book, other than "marketing"?
Morgen: Good question. I think the best thing for any author is networking. The quickest way to put someone off buying your book is to say “please buy my book”. Too many people only do that on Twitter then wonder why they get de-followed. You have to build up a rapport with your audience, perhaps targeting forums for your genre and if people are interested they will either ask what you’ve written or go an investigate. You could sneak in your website address in your signature footer, that way it’s easier for them to take a look. Worth-of-mouth is a powerful tool. Get someone to read and like you and they’ll tell others. They say it’s not what you know but who you know and I do believe that’s especially true online, although some of both wouldn’t hurt. Thank you, Agron.
I then invited Agron to include an extract of his writing…
“Sure, of course, I’ll takeover and look after.” Gluon left the base and headed to the most sophisticated elementary particle research lab on earth. The scientists were dealing with the behavior of elementary particles like quark, gluon . . . higgs. That last one was kind of mystery, not discovered yet as first brick of buildup matter in universe. Quark was not sure about that. He had no idea what was happening with both Higgs. His co-voyager friend and that basic elementary particle, though for the latter, his idea was that it belongs to the uncertainty principle photon-wave light . . . kind of science.
Though Higgs himself was struggling in the court, trying to convince the judges through the signs of holes in his temples as a testimony that Hitt was already dead . . . He is his mind . . . no that evil shpirti anymore! . . . Pleading to them not guilty! Struggling to prove it whether Higgs was real or . . . illusive!
While handcuffed there on the bench he recalled, from the journey on the Dreamliner, that Quark always called the beings on planet earth ‘human’. Even he didn’t like to use the word civilization, but military humanoids rather. Quark eagerly wished those humanoids to be converted into civilized people! Higgs was bewildered why Quark thought such thing . . . but now he understands better . . . “
AGRON, a Professional Petroleum Engineer lives with his family in Canada. The author has lots of interests including Astronomy, Physics, Math, History and Social Behavior. He enjoys playing the guitar and tennis. He has gained lots of life experience traveling around the world. The most recent passion is writing books.
The following is Kirkus’ review of Agron’s book…
“A long, strange trip across time and space allows a man to take in the whole of human history, while accompanied by a friendly alien and primitive woman. Like Dan Milman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior and Danel Quinn’s Ishmael, this slender title uses a fantastical thought experiment to convey theories of philosophy, cosmology, economics and ethics in a spacy nontraditional narrative. An earthling named Higgs uses his “speed of mind”—faster than the speed of light—to break the boundaries of physics and travel tens of thousands of light years away, to the planet QUARK, which is closer to the center of the Milky Way galaxy and, therefore, far more advanced. A helpful resident of QUARK, coincidentally named Quark, joins Higgs and uses his technology to beam an intelligent primate, Ardi, aboard the starship Dreamliner, and the three set course for Earth. During their travels, they witness millennia unfold as they discuss human progress in all its wonder and brutality. Ardi, meanwhile, evolves to become an unspoiled, beautiful woman and love interest. Higg’s true identity is a late shocker that will catch readers off guard—assuming they can parse Agron’s peculiar English-as-a-second-language prose. Agron also substitutes his own idioms for common-language concepts (“shpiriti deciders” instead of “clergy”). But some of Agron’s ideas, perhaps owing to his Balkan folk-wisdom, are interesting indeed: If external reality and the notion of passing time are merely products of perception, then God—“Zoti,” in Agron-speak—must exist inside everyone as the single transcendental force that binds us. When Quark mistakes minarets for missile silos, it’s the sort of expressive eccentricity this muddled narrative needs more frequently.”
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.