The Lens and the Looker by Lory S. Kaufman

I had the opportunity to read The Lens and the Looker, the first book in the Verona  triology and then interview the author Lory S. Kaufman.  The Lens and the Looker takes place in the 24th century. To help people learn history, they have created history camps, where teens are sent to experience life at certain periods in time. In this book, three teens who refuse to follow the rules at the history camp get sent back to the real 1347. It’s such an interesting concept. After reading the book, I sent some interview questions to the author to find out more about his writing of his first published novel.

1)  The Lens and the Looker is your first novel. What was the most difficult thing in the writing process? Well, the point is that The Lens and the Looker isn’t my first novel.  It’s my first published novel. That’s because, in my experience, the most difficult thing in the writing process is author objectivity. There’s a definite line between self-expression and writing a piece of entertainment that just might have some value and say something about the world and the people in it. Most writers have to spend several years getting out all the junk from their psyches and putting their egos in check. That’s what happened to me, anyway. Then the difficult thing . . . no, I don’t think there is anything difficult.  You just have to be committed. I actually love every step of the writing process.  I especially love it when an editor points out something really bad I’ve done, so I can get better. Okay, how about this. The most difficult thing in writing a first novel is losing your ego to the point where you can be objective.

2) What type of books did you love as a child/young adult? Have your tastes changed as an adult? I wasn’t a big reader as a kid or an adult. That’s because I’m A.D.D. and reading was – is – arduous. The books I did read, therefore, had a big influence on me. Lord of the Flies, The Chrysalids, Brave New World, all the Robert Heinlein books. There were also a few adult novels that stick out in my mind,Five Smooth Stones, House on the Strand . . . wow, it really is a short list. I did read a lot of plays though. By the time I was 13 I read all of Shakespeare and Eugene O’neal. I think that’s because I could read the lines really slowly and get the nuances of them. I was quite interested in theatre and ended up a semi-professional theatre director by the time I was 17. As for my tastes changing, actually, they really haven’t. I still like the same type of things. As for needing to be a big reader to be a writer, I totally agree. That’s why I listen to between 30 and 40 audio books per year, plus read about a dozen books.

3) What was your inspiration for The Lens and the Looker? Being my first published novel, there wasn’t a lot of clear forethought before the process began. By the time the project was in its final stages, I did have a very clear vision, and my projects I have in mind now are well thought out before hand, but The Lens and the Looker, it was my learning ground. As for inspiration, I would use the word motivation, instead. I wanted a vehicle to talk about the world in the future and what it just might look like. If you take away the time travel and levitation technology, which to me are metaphors for something we can talk about in the future, I think the points in the story could be close to accurate.

4)  What book are you reading now?

Right now I am doing something I haven’t done before. I’m reading, listening, to an audio book called The Greater Journey, by David McCoullogh. It’s about Americans visiting Paris, France in the 19th century. I’m liking it because it’s a time travel adventure in the sense that I’m seeing how people from different countries, let alone different times, see the world differently. I’ve haven’t read a lot of book length essay type work, and it’s very interesting. It’s well done and gives a human face to many American greats who have been trumped up as heroes over the years, when they were just people of talent doing what they were motivated to do at the time. I guess that’s a theme that resonates with me.
5) What were your favorite subjects in school?

English literature, although I barely got through high school with passing marks. But I got along well with all my teachers, so they passed me. It wasn’t until my mid-forties that I was diagnosed with A.D.D. and dyslexia. In English class, when we were interpreting novels, I remember correcting the teachers several times on what was going on and character’s motivations. It was a very confusing time for me and probably is the reason it took me till the age of sixty to get my work in the public eye.

 6)    The Lens and the Looker is the first in a trilogy. What will you be working on after that?

The sequel to The Lens and the Looker, entitled, The Bronze and the Brimstone just came out, as of June 7, 2011 and, I’m happy to say, many people are going right from finishing LENS and right into BRONZE.  I’m working on the final book in this trilogy now. It’s called The Loved and the Lost, and, although it will finish the Verona Trilogy of theHistory Camp series, it won’t be the last History Camp adventure. I’m already researching and writing more History Camp ideas. Where The Verona Trilogy takes place in 14thcentury Verona Italy, one of my new series takes place in 2500 BC, in Mesopotamia, in Akkad, the first true empire that was more than a city state or two. So many European and North and South American cultures see the beginning of history as what was happening during the writing of the Old Testament, but there was so much that happened before that. I thought it would be interesting to explore and expose this era.

7)   What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing? Well, I play golf in the summer and squash in the winter. I go to the gym and work out. I like to walk almost every morning for the better part of an hour, when I listen to audio books. I love art galleries and museums. I like to dance and give and go to dinner parties.

8 )  Any advice for young readers who want to become authors? Read, write, read, write, read, write, read, write, read, write, read, write, take a workshop, read write, read, write, read, write, read, write, read, write, join a writer’s group, read, write, read, write, read, write, read, write, read, write, read, write, take a workshop, read write, read, write, read, write, read, write, read, write, join a writer’s group, read, write . . . get the picture?

9)   Anything else you would like to share? I’d like to thank everyone who has let me know what they thought of The Lens and the Looker and The Bronze and the Brimstone. It’s been a lot of hard, concentrated work, but I’ve loved every minute of it, even the humbling parts. I’m glad when I get a review from someone who gets me and I’m a little sad when my work doesn’t resonate with others. But it takes all kinds to make a world, and one can only go forward. I wish everyone good reading.

Thanks to Pump Up Your Book for sending me the book.

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