Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ray Wallace

  This is the newest interview I did.  Now, this is a link to this guy's blog so it will only lead you to my interview until he blogs about something else.  The article is called, 'Five Questions with author Paul Loh' just in case you catch it after he's moved on.  Oh yeah, funny enough, the interviewer is named Ray Wallace, but it's not my best friend from high school, whose name is Raymond Wallace.
  Chief Loh is now the #8 ranked alternative band in Tucson on, jtlyk.
  Okay, here I'm going to provide for you the text of my interview just so that you can read it for sure. I do this because years ago, I did an interview on a blog which has now been deactivated.

Five Questions with author Paul Loh.

Paul Loh is in the band Chief Loh for which he sings, screams and raps. He has a degree in Creative Writing and one in Literature. He has dabbled in stand-up comedy, was part of an improv comedy troupe, and has done some amateur paranormal investigating. Along with two zombie novels, he is the author of several children’s books, poems, songs, comic strips, short stories and a series of new Chinese proverbs.

Ray Wallace: What made you want to become a writer in the first place?

Paul Loh: I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old. I’ve always been creative and imaginative, but I didn’t exactly know how to get my thoughts out. I was never very good at talking to people. I was always off by myself reading a book somewhere. It was in school with some of my assignments in English class that I first got a taste of expressing my ideas through writing. My teachers gave me such positive feedback about papers I had written. It felt so good to get something that started in my mind into someone else’s mind and have it be appreciated. What I lacked in sociability, I had in creativity.
Then, in my senior year in high school, I entered the year-end Talent Show. I read three of my poems on stage to the audience. There were eighteen other contestants. There were six categories of performance with three winning spots each. All eighteen of the other contestants got prizes and I was the only person who walked away that night without a prize. The next morning in one of my classes, my teacher told me that several of the girls in the audience around her were crying when they heard my poetry. She told me that she had rarely heard such emotionally moving writing. None of the other acts had connected so deeply with the audience in her opinion. That’s when I knew there was something to this whole writing thing.

RW: Why do you write dark fiction?

PL: When I was in the sixth grade, I saw George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. I promptly went out and rented Day of the Dead as well and fell in love with zombie movies. Of course, I quickly found that I had started with the best and no one else could seem to measure up. What I did find, though, was that there is an amazing uniqueness in story-telling potential in zombie movies. Not every genre can explore issues of morality, humanity, spirituality, heroism, cowardice, racism, sexism and community dynamics without being preachy. Zombie movies and literature are a very powerful mirror for the very things every person must face in their lives once you’ve stripped away all the BS of “making a living”.
I’ve tried to think of things that have not been dealt with in most of the books I’ve read or movies I’ve seen and write about them. Most genres have their stories still enshrouded in the convoluted world of school, work, church, vacations and other social customs. When MTV’s The Real World started, I actually watched the first few seasons because this was a show about stripping away a lot of those things and showing real personal interactions once pretense has been dropped. Unfortunately, reality TV eventually became anything but. It was a tragedy that more Day of the Dead-like movies and shows weren’t being made. I was disappointed in most of the literary, cinematic and television output.

Then Star Trek: Deep Space Nine came out. That was a show that dealt with a lot of the things that George Romero fearlessly addressed in his movies. The format of the show was such that the spirituality of the Bajorans could be explored, the racism between Bajorans and the Cardassians was examined and lots of other deep human issues were looked at. Rarely since MASH had a show had that sort of story-telling power. Both shows, by the way could have taken place during a zombie apocalypse and been just as powerful, if not more-so (although, being half Korean, I enjoy that the injustices of the Korean War were exposed to the world on MASH). I was building up inspirations for my writing with such shows as these.

RW: What do you enjoy most about writing?

PL: I love writing mostly because there are many things that people don’t usually take the time to think about, which would make the difference between life and death under certain circumstances. I can’t help but think that someone who has seen Night of the Living Dead might have a better chance of surviving the aftermath of a hurricane or tsunami. But even without some disaster to face, I would hope that someone who has watched Day of the Dead might not want to treat a fellow human being in some of the horrible ways people interacted in that movie. I aspire to write the kinds of stories that make people face themselves and eradicate any undesirable traits they may find within their psyches.
Also, it’s just damn fun to think of new things to do in a story. For instance, in my second book, The Greater Number, I got the idea that it would be cool to have people stationed on the Great Wall of China (I’m also half Chinese) and shooting zombies on one side of the wall to defend the living on the other side. In the book’s sequel, I thought it would be cool to have a character who is an expert at Parkour (free-running) use his skills to escape zombies. So, you see, it’s not all deep philosophical drudgery with me, I like to have fun too in my stories.

RW: What are your favorite movies?

PL: Some of my favorite movies I love so much simply because they could have been zombie movies. Take, for instance, Blindness. It’s the story of a plague of blindness that is contagious and affects the entire population. From there, a group of victims is quarantined in a hospital and it’s a story of the explosive internal politics of the group. There was also Lord of the Flies which had a group of boys stuck on an island and how they deal with not having to follow adult rules anymore. Now, you take the movie Alive about the sports team whose plane crashes in the Andes and who face the horrible prospect of cannibalism vs. death by starvation and you’ve really got a powerful morality tale. In my book, The Greater Number, I had a group of survivors stuck in the Himilayas, facing starvation. They had the added stigma of wondering how they are any better than the zombies if they start eating each other.
Now I know this is a book but Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl could have taken place in a zombie apocalypse if you substitute the undead for the Nazis. My book The Nocent part 2: Advent of the Scathing has a scene in which a Korean man is hiding under a floor board from the Japanese during the Korean War in a flashback. This is my nod to Anne Frank, but it is also a very personal story to me because it is the story of my grandfather.

Most recently, I saw a movie called The Impossible about a family who is in Thailand during the tsunami of 2004. The movie focuses on the various members of the family trying to find each other. This was one of the most intense movies I have ever seen. It makes me wonder why zombie movie makers don’t aspire to that level of gut-wrenching loyalty to loved ones and hope despite overwhelming tragedy. One zombie writer, A R Wise has written a series of novels called Deadlocked which deals with that very situation. A man is at work when the zombie outbreak begins and he wants to get home to his family. Sounds simple enough, but Aaron Wise delves painfully deep into the man’s heartache at not knowing how his family is and not having a way to contact them. Oh, how I wish that my writing could achieve that level of human truth.

RW: When you are not writing, what do you like to do with your time?

PL: When I’m not writing, I’m making music with my band, Chief Loh. I am the singer/guitarist/bassist/lyricist mostly. We’ve gotten as high as #4 in ranking in Tucson, where I live. The music is borderless in genre. We have everything from easy listening to punk, rap/rock, black metal, jazz and techno. One of these days, I’ll be making my books into movies and you can bet that Chief Loh’s music is going to appear in those movies!

To see a listing of Paul Loh’s books, click here. To go to his band’s Reverbnation page, click here. To visit his blog, click here.

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