Originally published 2016-01-02: Interview with Rami Ungar
In the years I’ve been pursuing a writing career, I’ve gotten a lot of help and advice from the writing community, especially the self-publishing sect, and I really wanted to give back. So this is the first in my Spotlight Saturday series!
The first author I chose to interview for Spotlight Saturday is Rami Ungar, author of the Reborn City series and Snake. He’s also a fellow Strange Portals and When the Lights Go Out short story author, and an intriguing blogger who posts topic such as applying the Bechdel Test to one’s work, confidence, and race in fiction.
“Zahara Bakur is a Muslim teenager recently moved into the gambling town of Reborn City. After her parents are killed by gang violence, Zahara is forced to join the Hydras, an interracial gang whose leaders have supernatural abilities. As the violence in Reborn City escalates and Zahara becomes closer to the Hydras, including the quiet but stern Rip, she finds herself drawn into a dark conspiracy involving the origins of the leaders and the shadowy corporation that rules over Reborn City.”
“How far will you go for love and revenge? When a young man’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the powerful Camerlengo Family, he becomes the Snake, a serial killer who takes his methods from the worst of the Russian mafia. Tracking down members of the Camerlengo Family one by one for clues, the Snake will go to any lengths to see the love of his life again…even if it means becoming a worse monster than any of the monsters he is hunting.”
Rami graciously agreed to talk with me about his inspirations, research, and the upcoming second book in his Reborn City series.
Who are you?
I am a novelist out of Columbus, Ohio, who writes horror, science-fiction, and thrillers. Writing and scaring people are my passions, so marrying them together wasn’t too hard. When I’m not writing, I’m reading, watching TV, interacting with my readers, the Followers of Fear, and obsessing over everything scary or nerdy, especially Doctor Who.
Who do you write for?
I think I write partly for myself, and partly for anyone who enjoys a good scary story in the vein of Stephen King or Anne Rice. I grew up reading their works, so I’m very much influenced by them both. If you enjoy their stories, or if you just like a good scare, you’re probably in the target audience I’m trying to reach.
How many books do you plan for the Reborn City series?
Currently I plan for only three books. I’m open to writing more stories in the world [of Reborn City], but at the moment I don’t have any ideas for more stories. If I do come up with any, though, I plan to get them written, one way or another. And especially if there are plenty people who want to read more stories from that world and with those characters.
What kind of research did you do for your upcoming novel, Video Rage?
Most of the research I did for Reborn City actually carried over to Video Rage, which was helpful. The only research I really had to do was on the Lakota-Sioux tribes, because they played a role later in the book.
I was able to get materials from my local library and off the Internet, and even from a class I took in my last year of college, where we talked about the Lakota warrior philosophy. That was an added bonus to taking the class, because it really helped me flesh out certain parts of the book a bit more and give certain characters and scenes a bit more authenticity, something I always strive to do with the stories I write.
When can we expect Video Rage (Reborn City #2) to hit stores?
I always try to put out the most perfect product I can, and right now I’m saving up for an editor who can help me polish up the book before I publish it. So as soon as that’s done and taken care of, we can expect [Video Rage] to hit shelves. I’m hoping that means later this year, but as always, we’ll see what the future holds.
Are you working on anything new?
Depends on your definition of new. I’m editing one novel right now, and will do another draft of another soon afterwards. I’m also putting together another collection of short stories, and I’d like to at least clear up my schedule a bit to take part in National Novel Writing Month later this year. Plus the usual amount of blogging, where I always something new to talk about, I guess.
In your 2014 novel, Snake, as well as the Reborn City series, gang and mob violence play a large part. Is there a reason you are so inspired by this subject?
(laughs) I hadn’t even thought of that connection. Well, I don’t think there are any real reasons for that. Both stories came to me at different times of my life in different way, and different things went into them while writing them. I wish I could give a better answer, but I guess I’ll just say that both stories and their subjects called for a certain type of violence, and that’s what I gave them.
What fuels your writing?
Can I say alcohol and demented nightmares? (laughs)
Well, I guess my own twisted imagination and the need to get these stories out of my head and into a static form is a big part of why I write. But the reason I write as best as I can and as hard as I can, why I try and put out the best stories possible, is because I know people are reading them.
Lately I’ve had a lot more people reading my books, and every time I see a new sale, or KDP Amazon tells me that someone’s been burning the midnight oil reading one of my books through Kindle Unlimited, it keeps me going, makes me want to give them something they’d love to read over and over again, something they’ll remember as a good story. That’s the fuel for my writing.
Tell us about your writing hideout.
I don’t really have one, truth be told. I write wherever I can spare the time, boot up my laptop, and work. Usually that ends up being whatever room happens to be my bedroom. I’ll just sit on my bed and just get out as much as possible. Someday I’d like to have an office or something solely devoted to getting words out on the page, but until that day comes, I’m good wherever.
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