Burma, Art, Literature, Political Economy through the eyes of a permanent exile.
"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the oppressed. Sometimes we must interfere. . . There is so much injustice and suffering crying out for our attention . . . writers and poets, prisoners in so many lands governed by the left and by the right." Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 1986, Oslo.
This entire site copyright Kyi May Kaung unless indicated otherwise.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Kyi May Kaung's five "Next Big Thing" nominations and the Q and A.
Dear Writers - we look forward to joining your august company very soon - Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.
First, thank you Kanlaon for nominating me - as you said when we first met in Berlin in 2005 as "writers who dare to confront" -- we writers need a boost like this sometimes./
My five nominees are -- (I wanted to nominate "Kanlaon" but maybe one should not go in circles)./
1. Vietnamese-born poet & political commentator Linh Dinh/
2. Ko Ko Thett - poet and literary translator/
3. Maru - a k a Kyaw Aung Lwin - poet and broadcaster/
4. U Win Tin, renowned NLD strategist who spent 19 years in prison in notorious Insein Prison in Rangoon - for his memoir What's That? A Human Hell./
5. Mahn Nyein Maung - Karen freedom fighter - for his memoir Against the Storm, Across the Waves./
Note - I am not being "nationalistic" or ethnic- or region-centered - I do not know so many people and I don't know many writers - and these 5 (plus Kanlaon) stand out so vividly./
Here are the Q and A -s/
A. Where did the idea come from for the book?/
If we are talking about my novel Wolf,previously named "August" and "Burmese Rebel"/
between 2002 and 2005 and earlier from 1997-2001, I met many survivors/activists of the 1988 revolution in Burma./
I decided to composite some of these with myself (as a man) and make a composite character./
B. What genre does your book fall under?/
It's a romance, a coming of age story and a coming to terms story and a political thriller. I am not really a genre writer but I love complex political thrillers- and my training is as a political economist and activist./
C. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?/
I have not thought about this at length, but I asked My Personal Artist (his professional name) to make a cover with someone looking like Keanu Reeves, and I like him in The Matrix - which this story is sort of similar to without the sci fi./
The woman should be played by Angelina Jolie -/ She was great as both Alexander the Great's mother and in Boewulf as the monster Grendel's mother - and I am a great fan of John Gardner and love Grendel getting ready to eat some humans by tying a napkin under his chin./
I am not sure if Gardner said it's a red and white checked napkin, but it should be. The lead female character in my novel is all about sex and motherhood./
D. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?/
It's a novel of love and betrayal, as it traces the hero Awegoke's struggle to be free and his love-hate relationships with the women in his life./
E. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?/
I started the first half in 2005, in the winter, through 2 novel writing workshops at The Bethesda Writers Center and 2 writing groups (maybe 3) that I helped form. The second half I pushed through in a "boot camp" class at BWC - where you just sit and write in class, you hardly get to meet your classmates and no one critiques each others' work, though the instructor Kathyrn Jensen, spent quality time with each writer during each session./
I liked boot camp a lot since there was not the "bragging" and "back-stabbing" that happen in some groups or classes when the instructor is not firm enough or fast enough with putting his/her foot down that such behavior will not be tolerated. Since 1994 I have taken about 9 courses in Philadelphia and the DC area - mainly to have "company" while I am writing./
Jensen taught us not to care where we are or who we are with - writing is writing - she urged us to write in coffee shops and airports. Since then I just slam it down, though for some reason I only do translations in cafes./
So overall it might have been 2006 to 2009 or so, but I work on 5-6 projects all at the same time + painting professionally, so it's hard to say how long I worked on Wolf./
In fact I am still trying to get my anger up to write one fight scene where another woman, not one I want played by Jolie, leaves the hero to be ordained as a Buddhist monk, not nun) in Sri Lanka. Maybe this part should be played by the actress who played Eowyn in Lord of the Rings- a perfectly straightforward, brave and well meaning woman./
It must be hard for a man to be left for religious reasons./
G. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?/
I am trying both options for now, but if by a certain deadline, which I cannot reveal,I do not find a good agent, I will self publish./