Yes! The man from NYC is back for more on Sylvia Says. This is a first for me, hosting a great author twice on my blog. So read on, and I hope you enjoy the interview.
SM: Steven, it's great to have you back on my blog and ready to tell readers about your latest release The Ishi Affair.
SJG: It's great to be back, Sylvia. I'm thrilled to be the only author you've hosted twice on the blog.
SM: What can I say? It's that charm of yours... And the fact I love guys from NYC (blushing). But let's get you talking about your latest novel. This is book 5 of your David Grossman series. Does the new book tell a continuing story?
SJG: Each of the five novels in my David Grossman Series is an independent story. But the books do share a main protagonist, hence the series. For sure, readers who enjoy all the books will appreciate the larger arc of David’s colorful life. The first three novels--Grand View, Forty Years Later, and The Deadline— are told in the first person, so they share the intimate tone of a single narrator. Grossman’s Castle and The Ishi Affair are told in the third-person, so various characters share center-stage with David—though his brash and comic voice is sometimes loudest.
SM: So what compelled you to write this latest novel?
SJG: I’ve always had a deep fear and loathing of bullies. When I was still quite young, I learned that my mother’s family—and other Jews of the Ukraine—had suffered the casual taunts of Jew-haters and, even more, the murderous pogroms that often exterminated entire Jewish villages. My father’s boyhood was spent in Nazi Germany. Most of his extended family was able to leave before Kristallnacht. The ones who stayed behind were killed.
When I was 17, I first learned about Ishi and how his tribe, along with many other Native American tribes, were hunted down and murdered by whites for fun and profit—and that these heinous actions were often sponsored by government fiat. I learned early on that genocide was the most loathsome human expression imaginable. I knew, at 17, I would write about Ishi.
SM: Genocide is indeed one of the most loathsome human expressions imaginable. Nowadays I'd have to say I put it right up there with terrorist acts. But back to Ishi--Was there a real "Ishi" or an ancient person who you based Ishi on?
SJG: Yes, in fact Ishi is quite famous, and the last five years of his life (1911–1916) are well documented. I did quite a bit of research to learn about the Yahi, whose Stone Age customs, traditions, and technology were still being practiced in the early 20th century.
SM: What made you mesh the Stone Age era component into the modern-day story you wrote? And why did you decide on the Stone Age era in the first place?
SJG: I loved the idea that Ishi was born into a Stone Age culture while much of the rest of our nation was becoming highly industrialized. A couple days after Ishi was “discovered,” he was transported by railroad to bustling San Francisco, where he saw large sailing ships and even an airplane. This image has always fascinated me, and I knew early on that I would not write a Clan of the Cave Bear-type story. You see, I wasn’t as interested in the Old Ways of the Yahi as I was in the clash of cultures, Stone Age and Modern.
SM: How does Ishi become a catalyst for David Grossman to face certain issues in his modern life?
SJG: Human nature, for better or worse, seems to be a constant. For thousands of years, going back to the Stone Age, people have labored, fought, loved … much as they do today. Conversely, modern humans—for all their advanced knowledge and technology—are capable of expressing the most primitive, savage impulses.
SM: Oh yes. I have to agree with you there, my friend. Since mankind has walked erect, breaking away from the apes, nothing much has changed by way of their nature.
SJG: And insofar as both are human, David Grossman and Ishi are not so different in terms of their basic needs. By comparing Stone Age and Modern characters, we see that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
SM: An excellent point. As for The Ishi Affair, although a work of fiction, how much did you draw from true historical facts to write this story?
SJG: Almost everything I wrote about the historical Ishi is based on well-known research. I altered only one or two minor details to accommodate the needs of my narrative. Readers should remember that we are not that far removed from Ishi’s time. Interesting note: the esteemed sci-fi writer, Ursula K. Le Guin, who is still alive and well, is the daughter of early 20th-century anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and his second wife, Theodora Kroeber, both of whom play roles in my novel. And, just for the record: Le Guin’s middle initial K stands for Kroeber.
SM: This sounds like a fascinating story indeed. And before we go, is there anything else you would like your readers to know?
SJG: I first learned about Ishi when I was 17 and working on an archaeological dig in northern California. That summer, after the dig, I began to write a novel about Ishi and the Yahi. Even then I knew I would combine the story of the Stone Age tribe into a contemporary tale. But I lacked maturity. I needed an adult voice to tell this story. It took me 46 years to get it right.
SM: Thank you, Steven, for doing this interview. Without your agreeing to be my guest today I would never have learned about Ishi and his ancestry. The Ishi Affair is definitely on my reading list now.
SJG: Thank you, Sylvia, for hosting me on your blog post; and the next one (and it's on my bucket list) is to do a face to face interview with you in the land Down Under.
SM: Dear Steven... I'll hold you to that! Bye for now.
NOTE TO READERS: Dear readers, please note that being an Aussie I use Australian spelling in my blog posts, but I don't alter the spelling of the guest's responses, which in this case are written in American spelling. Thank you and until next time!
I have blogged about this most of unsavoury subjects in the past, but it seems cyberbullying is reaching epidemic proportions these days.
Most of us follow social etiquette in real life if we want to fit in with the culture in our environment, but there are those that turn into little monsters when it comes to dealing with people through social media. These sick, pathetic individuals have a tendency to use social media to really let it rip, no matter what the consequences. I could understand this if they were provoked and they wanted to somehow defend themselves (although this doesn't really work too well either); but to tear someone to shreds when there is no provocation--well, that's another thing entirely.
Bullying, whether in real life or through social media should carry ZERO tolerance. Coming from a corporate background involving employee relations I've fired many people for bullying behaviour in the workplace. Abuse is abuse, no matter what you call it.
So how do you deal with a cyberbully who chooses to hide behind their computer or Smartphone because they don't have the balls to show you their real face? This type is the most coward bully of them all--an individual that hides behind avatars and secrecy for their own ends--mainly to bully others on social media. I call these people trolls.
Wikipedia defines a troll as a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people by posting inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussions.
In my opinion, a troll is a cyberbully without a life of their own. And if you're wondering what a troll looks like, the answer is: Like anybody. They come in all shapes and sizes. But I'd like to think of them as per the pics below:
Why am I re-posting about trolls? Well, it all started with a few tweets I read from actor James Woods. Mr Woods, like many of us, is an interactive and prolific Twitter(er) and he expresses an opinion on many topics. Nothing wrong with that, right? I follow his tweets because I'm interested in what he's got to say. He tweets a lot about politics and even though I don't live in the US--hence I don't understand much about American politics--I still have an interest in many of the things Mr Woods has to say.
Unfortunately, my enjoyment of Mr Woods' tweets are usually marred by many cowardly creatures that dedicate their energy to wasting other people's time and enjoyment in using social media.
Let's face it, trolls are tedious, terrible and tormenting creatures with little minds and no imagination who should really get out there and do something constructive with their lives for a change instead of making ours a misery.
My opinions are my own, just as Mr Woods' opinions are his--and you, the reader, also have an opinion that you may wish to express. Now, you may or may not agree with what I say, what Mr Woods says, or what someone else says, but there is absolutely no need to start acting like an exorcist-type entity--one that often uses words that half the time they cannot even spell.
I quite enjoy the way Mr Woods deals with cyberbullies or trolls; he simply shakes them like water off a duck's back and blocks them with a witty comment and the hashtag #INSTABLOCK.
I recently joined discussions on Twitter about a common topic the people in this thread share, but in the short time I've been tweeting in this thread I've had the misfortune to come across a few very strange individuals; two of which have abused me for no good reason. And by the way, trolls should understand that if they tweet or post something on a public forum they should expect other people to interact with their tweets/posts. Therefore, if your tweet/post is for a particular person you, the troll, should message them privately and not on an open forum. Duh!
Well, since these most unfortunate incidents of bullying occurred I've taken a page from Mr Woods' effective way of dealing with trolls and I used the #INSTABLOCK hashtag to get rid of them and their rubbish and bullying comments.
My final message to all trolls (cyberbullies) out there is clearly depicted in the cartoon below.
On a last note, I'd like to thank Mr Woods for inspiring such a great way to get rid of these waste of cyberspace individuals.
Author Sylvia Massara's: