The Last Book Ever Written
by Jonah Kruvant
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In a futuristic American society where all citizens have computerized chips in their brains and insert needles into their veins to enter a virtual reality, Victor Vale leads a fairly typical life. He is an officer of the law with greater ambitions, a family man, and a dutiful citizen of the Nation. Yet when The Chief assigns him a case to go undercover and expose a community of illegal “creators,” Victor finds himself strangely compelled to creative writing. For the first time, he starts to question the world around him, and becomes involved in a web of lies, uncertain of whom to trust, and unable to distinguish between virtualism and reality. As he searches for answers, Victor slowly begins to unravel hidden truths about the world, and even uncovers an astonishing secret from his own past.
In order to prove to the “creators” that he is genuine, Victor writes a manuscript, at great risk to his wife and son. When books are banned and ultimately destroyed, Victor realizes that his book alone has survived. Only then does the reader come to a startling realization in a unique narrative twist.
Not long after the Cleansing Act, I was promoted to Detective. I was thirty-four. I had a wife and child to support. A career to pursue. My son wanted things, my wife wanted things; hell, I wanted things. I had worked on the force for thirteen years and it was time I got my detective badge.
That was all I could see back then. I didn’t care about creators.
Then I was assigned to the case. But even before I stepped into the Chief’s office, events began taking shape that marked both the beginning and the end of a new chapter in my life. It was on my way to the police station, wading through the unbearable stench of the dirty human flesh of the Slums, that I began to question things, what I thought I knew about the world … and about myself.
So this is where I start my story. This is where I begin my book.
That day, for whatever reason, I felt conscious of my surroundings. The beggars were pushing each other out of the way to get under awnings and balconies of restaurants and apartments as it started to rain. The restaurants were filled with shattered glass, moldy kitchens. The strongest beggars lived in cramped apartments with cockroaches and termites. The ones that couldn’t find shelter that morning just lay there, shivering from the cold. Some would let raindrops fall from the sky into their open mouths. Two naïve children were chasing each other around bodies and
giggling, cleaning dirt out of each other’s hair. The bright lights of the skyscrapers, the swiftness of the skytrain, the convenience of the airpath—all a beggar had to do was look up and he would find himself in a fantastical world of dreams.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Jonah Kruvant, author of The Last Book Ever Written.
Hi Jonah, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am a writer, teacher, and student of the world. I grew up in New Jersey – off exit 15, to be exact. I became inspired to write by a professor at college and then traversed Asia for two years, searching for what all writers seek – meaning, truth, and really good cocktails. Satisfied with sake, I moved to New York, where I wrote my debut novel, The Last Book Ever Written, released last April.
What were you like at school?
This depends on which school and at what age. In nursery school, I was a talker. In elementary school, I was a jock. In middle school, I was a hippy. In high school, I was a cynic.
Were you good at English?
English was always my strongest subject. My third grade teacher was the first to tell my parents that I was a prolific writer, but my first memories of writing are in the sixth grade. As part of the curriculum at my Jewish Day School, I had to write interpretations of stories from the Old Testament, all of which revolved around specific morals. My teacher noted that my stories were “morbid”. I took this as a major compliment and haven’t looked back since.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I love to write, and to be able to do what I love is enough. It is my hope my work can have a real positive impact — that others can discover something within themselves by reading my work or try to improve something in society that needs fixing.
Which writers inspire you?
Steven Millhauser, Paul Auster, William Shakespeare. There are too many to name.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does Victor Vale do that is so special?
It seems at first that Victor Vale is fairly typical: a cop with career ambitions and a family man. But nothing could be further from the truth. Victor is a victim of an oppressed society and a troubled childhood. He has everything that should make him happy – a good career and a beautiful wife, but he feels like something is missing. Like so many people in today’s world, he’s been told that a successful career will make him happy, but Victor isn’t satisfied. He finds himself compelled to an underground movement of creators he’s meant to expose. Victor is attracted to how the creators aren’t afraid to question society, and he begins to tap into his creative side, even though creativity in any form is forbidden and punishable by death. Victor becomes torn between his new life and old, between what he’s supposed to feel and how he really feels.
What are you working on presently?
I’m working on short fiction. Some of the stories have similar themes to The Last Book Ever Written and some of them are entirely different.
Which actor would you like to see playing Victor Vale from The Last Book Ever Written?
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing?
I wrote The Last Book Ever Written was because I believed in the idea.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I don’t, but my best work comes when I am isolated and away from any distractions…smartphone turned off.
Where do your ideas come from?
Inspiration is not something you can plan or predict. As much as you’d like it to come from a quality book or film, it could come from the most recent blockbuster, or the latest issue of People Magazine (I swear I don’t read it). My ideas often derive from experiences. The Last Book Ever Written was inspired by my best friend, and he didn’t even know it. When the iPhone was released, he brought it to my house. My friends and I sat around and chatted about things we had always talked about since high school. Except something was different: my best friend didn’t seem to be listening. He hadn’t taken his eyes off his new toy the entire night. He was so detached from reality that it disturbed me. Most of our communication is nonverbal and this is lost in virtual interactions and text messages. To me, a future with less effective communication between our fellow human beings was scary, and I felt the need to write about it. The story grew from there.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
For my novel, I spent six months outlining the plot, building my futuristic world, and creating my characters. I find this kind of preparation necessary for science fiction. I also have a specific writing process. I write all first drafts by hand, even short scenes or moments that arise later. I find that the subconscious leaks out onto the page when I write with a notebook and pen. I then type up what I wrote, revising as I type. I find that the act of typing engages the conscious mind and is more conducive to revision. Next, I print it, write on the printed pages with a pen, and then type it up again. I repeat this process until the piece is ready.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
I think the hardest parts of writing are beginning and finishing. To start, you have to get to that place where you can focus on writing — and writing only. To finish, you have to let go, yes, but you also have to know that your piece is complete — that every word is as it needs to be.
Do you read much and who are your favorite authors?
My favorite fiction writers are Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Steven Millhauser, Flannery O’Connor, and Kurt Vonnegut.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I exclusively read print books.
What book are you currently reading?
Moby Dick. I’m learning a lot about whales, and I mean A LOT.
Tell us about the cover and how it came about.
The cover for The Last Book Ever Written was especially important considering the nature of the work. I want the reader to experience a visceral sensation when he or she comes to specific realizations about the book within the book. So the cover is essential, and every element is referenced in the text itself.
Who designed your cover?
Robin McGeever was the cover designer, Gary Finkler contributed important ideas to it, Debra Rothenberg was the photographer, and the illustration, which appears in the back of the book, was drawn by Alison Kruvant.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for The Last Book Ever Written?
Yes. I come from a film background so the trailer was important to me. It is a film within itself.
How do you relax?
Getting into down dog, munching on pretzels, listening to baseball on the radio, and drinking coconut water.
What is your favorite quote?
There are so many, so I figure I can’t go wrong with the one I chose for my middle school yearbook.
“Some people want it to happen, some wish it could happen, others make it happen.” –Michael Jordan
What is your favorite movie?
Psycho, Chinatown, Shawshank Redemption, and Billy Madison.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Check my website at www.jonahkruvant.com.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
It was my pleasure.
A writer, teacher and student of the world, JONAH KRUVANT received his BA from Skidmore, his teaching degree from Fordham and an MFA from Goddard College. Jonah lives in New York City. He is the author of The Last Book Ever Written.
Personal website: http://jonahk.net/
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