Earlier today I posted the first half of an interview made by some friends of mine, Rui Li and Josh Mangel. Now I’d like to post the second part, which was recorded and then transcribed on July 1st, before The Quiet Game: Five Tales To Chill Your Bones came out.

Before you read it, I’d like to point out that part of the ending of the interview is a little hard to read. That’s because there was some problems with the audio that recorded the interview, and what was said was therefore unintelligible. What is here is my friend Josh’s attempt to get down exactly what was said. So please pardon that, and just enjoy what you read, should you find yourself reading the entire interview.

Once again, thanks to Josh and Rui. I really appreciate you two taking the time to come over to my place and interview me about my writing. It means a lot that you show an interest in it.

~~~

Rami Ungar, a young up-and-coming horror author, has been writing stories since he was the tender age of six. He has one book already published, The Quiet Game: Five Tales That Chill Your Bones, and another coming out in November, Reborn City, a science fiction novel. He also writes for two blogs, one that showcases his personal work, and one that offers advice to self-publishing authors. Rami is sharp as a knife, talented, and certainly has the uncompromising attitude needed for a writer.

We covered several topics with Rami, and he provided us with a wealth of information on writing and the publishing process. The first part of this interview focuses on Rami’s personal story and his influences and experiences, and the second half covers publishing and some of Rami’s other secrets.

Take us through the publishing process. How does that work? I don’t know very much about publishing, and it seems like kind of a crazy process.

Would you like to hear it for a novel or a short story or an article, what?

All (laughing). Sorry.

We could be here for a while.

I think it’s interesting, for people who are reading an interview, because not a lot of people know how that happens.

Well, for a novel… publishing novels has changed over the past couple of years. How much do you know about indie publishing?

Nothing.

Well, it used to be that you wrote a novel, and you had to get an agent, and that agent had to find you a publisher. That publisher had to publish your novel for you, and the marketing department had to do some work in order to make sure that people actually knew about your novel, and bought it. Having a publisher depended on how well your novel did, so if your novel didn’t do well, your publisher could drop you. With indie publishing, authors are able to create novels on their computer, design a cover, and distribute and market themselves. Basically, they’re doing all the work, and they’re making most of the profits. Amazon has really helped with this. Amazon offers the chance for authors to get out there and actually write themselves, publish themselves, and distribute themselves. I’m using Amazon myself in order to distribute my own work, so it’s actually been very helpful. The publishing industry is reacting to that. The Big Six, as they call the big six publishing companies, which includes groups like Penguin, or Doubleday, Random House; they’re reacting to this in ways they never expecting to, because they never saw this coming, and so they have to react. They’re letting fewer books in now, they’re publishing less, because they’re driven by profit, the books they believe will make money. Authors who have really good novels, but publishing houses aren’t accepting them, they’re like, forget the publishing house, I’m going to self-publish. They’re kind of facilitating their own deaths.

So, it’s very similar to the music industry in a lot of ways.

Yeah, the artists are taking control.

What do you think about – I don’t want to admit piracy, but if you go on the Internet, you can read dozens of interesting things just by clicking the button for free. What incentive is there for audiences to read something being published, something that costs money?

Well, the thing is, piracy is taking published works and distributing them illegally, so I’d like to think that the whole legal thing is keeping people from reading pirated work. A lot of authors choose to get copyrights, which is something that I recommend. You pay a small fee to get a copyright for your work, and the legal protection is very good. I’ve copyrighted my work, and so far it’s served me well; people can’t use any of my work without getting in trouble.

Who taught you these things? How did you learn the publishing process?

It’s all out there on the Internet, there are blogs devoted to teaching people how to publish on their own; in fact, I write for a blog.

What’s the blog called?

Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors. It’s me and four other writers helping other writers writing articles that are meant to help other authors publish on their own. I’ve only been working for them for the past couple of weeks. I don’t get paid for this, but I love doing it. I write articles for them as they come to me, and I publish them and hopefully they help people to write better.

Have you ever had anyone who read an article write you back and say that the information that you shared helped?

Well, the thing is with a blog that people are free to comment, and they do, so I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on my work, most of it, thank God, has been very positive. For novels, though, I often do what’s called a beta reader, and that is, I’ll ask someone, usually a friend who’s also a writer, or maybe just a very avid reader, to take a look at the novel, or sometimes a short story, and to give me feedback. I often get very helpful feedback that tells me what I should change, what I should rewrite, what I should keep…

When you do the blog and the website stuff, sometimes there are very hurtful comments. Have you ever been hurt by an online comment?

I once wrote an article on people that had been very rude to an author because she was against female genital mutilation, sometimes called female circumcision. They didn’t want her to be against this unless she was also against male circumcision. I wrote an article about that, and some people found the article, and they kept trying to convince me that male circumcision and female circumcision were just products of the devil. I just said, that’s not my belief, one may have health benefits, the other is actually very sexist in nature and serves no purpose other than to subjugate women and cause them harm.

How and when did you have the idea to publish a book, to write a book? Did you get the idea yourself or did your parents or family suggest it to you?

Well, I’ve always wanted to be a published novelist, but the whole idea of self-publishing came to me over time. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go this route, but I thought maybe I should… after hearing from people who had had positive experiences with self-publishing, I said, “Heck! Let’s do it!”

The Quiet Game is coming out in seventeen days. I’ve got another novel, my science fiction novel, Reborn City, is coming out in November. Pretty soon I’ll be able to start the process to self-publish my serial killer novel, Snake.

When you self-publish something, do you print copies yourself?

Amazon has a service called Print-On-Demand, which means that someone will order a book, and Amazon will print the order then and there and the send it to them. A little bit of the money from the sale goes to actually printing a copy of the book. With e-books, it’s even easier, because it’s just like replicating a file.

I know that a lot of this is probably already on the blog that you wrote about helping authors self-publish, but do you think that there is a future out there for a lot of the young authors? If you were giving specific advice to young authors about the very best things they could do, the best way to become an author…

Well, to become an author takes a lot of dedication: a lot of reading, a lot of writing, and a lot of passion. I would mostly say that if you want to become an author, you have to read a lot. You have to read many books from many different people. You have to write a lot, and try to learn as much as you can about writing as possible. Most importantly, you can’t lose your nerve; you have to keep going, because you’re basically typing four-letter words forty thousand times. There’s forty thousand words in your average novel, usually a lot more.

What have you done to market yourself? Do you talk to people even though you don’t want to, just to let them know what you’ve done so that others will share your story?

Marketing myself is actually not as difficult as it sounds. Sure, talking to people and telling them about my novels is part of it, but there are many other ways to market yourself; for one thing, I use Twitter a lot to get people interested in my work. These past couple of days, I’ve been using Facebook and Twitter to count down the number of days until The Quiet Game comes out. I also write a blog, a personal blog about my writing that has close to three hundred people following it and hopefully some of them will read my book. As I said, I also write for another blog that helps self-publish authors, so maybe some people will get interested through that.

Since you believe in God, do you carry around a personal item that can protect you from other things, like an amulet?

I do wear a necklace, my necklace is a mezuzah – that’s an object in Judaism that’s put on doorposts – it’s supposed to be like a protective amulet of sorts. I usually wear that all the time, and I feel it will protect me when I wear it. I’m very happy I have it. It was a bar mitzvah gift. I also have a ring with some words on the Talmud on it.

What does it say?

“He who saves a life, it is as if he saves the world entire.” Considering that I kill off a lot of the characters in my books, I have not been doing very well with that commandment (laughing)!

Have you ever wrote anything that opposes Judaism and been criticized by your father?

My dad has wanted me to write stuff based upon my own life or based upon Judaism, but things that go against Judaism in general, I’m not sure that I’ve ever written anything exactly like that that. I have written scenes full of murder, blood, and gore; I have written from the perspectives of Christians, Muslims, others. I also did write a sex scene once! It was between two people that weren’t married to each other, and Judaism does encourage people to wait until they’re married.

Would you say there are other things like Judaism that have influenced you that don’t necessarily relate to horror stories?

Things that have influenced me?

Some people would say, “I read R.L. Stine all the time when I was a kid, so I just loved R.L. Stine.” But have there been things that influenced you to write horror that have nothing to do with horror?

I do read a lot of Japanese comics as well, and those range so much in genre from comedy, to romance, to action – I’ve been able to derive ideas from those. There are stories that take place in other universes or the past, stories that involve magic, and stories that give me a glimpse as to how certain people view romance.

Is there anything else – maybe a park you like and its scenery, or a building, and you imagine the building…

I also use meditation. That’s helped me think more clearly when I write, so that’s helped.

Do you always meditate before you write?

I meditate twice a day, every day. I feel more creative and focused, when I meditate, so try and do it right before I start writing.

What I wanted to know was if there are some writers who have similar problems with writing: they don’t have a regular schedule, they sometimes sleep at night, sometimes during the day, and they don’t want to exercise because they want to just keep writing.

I’m sure there are people like that but I don’t know any personally. Most writers are on a pretty consistent schedule.

Do you have a pretty consistent schedule?

Yeah, I’d be worried if I didn’t have a pretty consistent schedule. It might point to a health problem, it might point to an unhealthy lifestyle, or it might point to something entirely different, I’m not sure. It depends on the circumstance.

How were you educated about writing before college?

I just wrote! I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I did it for the love of writing.

I meant to ask you that before, actually. Was there someone in particular who taught you about writing?

No, the school I went to didn’t have a lot of writing classes. In fact, we only had one writing workshop in fifth grade, and afterwards everything was meant to prepare you for writing essays in college. I didn’t really have any training in fiction, not until college. But getting this far without that training; people tell me that’s something else. I’ve got to say I got where I am with the support of my friends and my family.

Do you believe you have a talent for writing?

I believe that I’ve developed a talent for writing.

Do you have any events coming up, or readings?

Readings, no. I am trying to develop a stand-up comedy act (laughing). So if it’s any good, we’ll have to see. The Quiet Game is coming out on July 17th. It will be available from Amazon and other retailers in paperback and e-book format. The price is yet to be set; I should set it soon. Reborn City, my science fiction novel, will be available November 1st, so I’m going to be doing a lot work to get ready for that, including creating a Facebook page.

Do you have a favorite writer?

Oh my God, that’s a tough question. I really like Stephen King and Anne Rice.

I know a lot of famous people, before they become famous, they really admire another famous person and sometimes they imitate them until they realize that they need to find their true personality. Did you do that?

Yeah, there were times were I sounded a lot like a hybrid of Stephen King and Anne Rice. But over time, that’s really changed, so that I sound less like them and more like me. By sounding like me, I’ve been published a few times: short stories in magazines. I like my style as it is now; I hope to improve it over time. Like I said, my writing’s improved, and I like writing like I write. My style. Rami Ungar style.

I read some of your stories; I liked them.

Thank you.

I read one about the succubus and Hunter.

Oh yeah, that one.

I liked that one.

You would (laughing).

What do you mean by that (feigns insult)?

Well, you did mention the succubus, and those are…

What are those?

They’re demonesses that have sex with you while you sleep.

Oh, I didn’t know that.

Can you repeat that?

Demonesses that have sex with you while you sleep.

Can you say that again (laughing)?

Now you’re being sarcastic!

How can that be?

Well, they’re not real.

Oh, it’s not a real thing.

Well, it might be real, it might not be. You never know… He’s actually not human, he’s actually a space alien.

(unintelligible muttering)

Actually he’s a space alien. I’m pretty sure I saw her walking around with two antennae.

Oh, is that how you say it? I thought it was antenna.

Antennae. (pause) Well, thanks for coming over.

Thank you very much.

Thanks.

 

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