Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Strangely Funny II Authors: Meet Omar Sakr!

Omar J. Sakr is an Australian writer and poet with a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Sydney. His short story 'Aftertweet' was selected as part of the Twitter Fiction Festival, and his poetry has featured on Cordite Poetry Review, as well as the ABC. He has poetry forthcoming in Meanjin and Carve Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @OmarjSakr or on his website .

His story in Strangely Funny II, "Caryard Jack", tells the story of a necromancer awakened after several centuries into the modern world. Unfortunately, his ex still remembers him, and not fondly.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I first tried my hand at writing when I was about 11, and I’d just finished reading Lord of the Rings. I can’t remember what I wrote, except that it was undoubtedly pure plagiarism. Put off by that, it wasn’t until I was 15 that I wrote again. I was hit by a story out of the blue, and sat down to write it.  I finished it in one sitting, hand cramped, page full of my ungainly blue scrawl, and that’s when I knew.

How did you pick the genre/setting/era you (usually) write in?
I like to think I didn’t choose it at all – that it chose me. Truthfully, I had the choice all but dictated to me. When I was about 10, my step-father bet me $10 I couldn’t sit through an entire novel. The novel he chose was King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green. It had magic, kings, queens, knights and witches, and from then, I was lost to this world, and always in another. The next few books I read were largely picked by my mother, in Harry Potter, and Stephen King’s Rose Madder. These are the books which shaped my imagination, a mix of magic, medieval England, and horror.

How did you come up with the idea for your story in Strangely Funny II?
I was at work, drudging away, trying to overcome a mental block to a story I was in the middle of writing. I loved the concept, and thought the beginning of it was some of the best writing I’d done. Consequently, I began to treat it too preciously,  and was worried about ruining it. I was stuck – doubly so by being at work – but had the writing itch, so I opened up a page and just started writing the first thing that came to my head. It says a whole lot about me that the first thing I thought of was an ancient murderous bisexual necromancer, but there you have it.

Do you think certain genres lend themselves to a humorous twist?

Life lends itself to humour; I don’t think there’s a single genre or medium out there that shouldn’t be layered with humour. The universe is an enormous cosmic joke and if I wasn’t able to laugh at it every day, I don’t think I’d manage to get by. That said, any subject dealt with pompously – my dear beloved fantasy, I’m looking at you – ought to have the mickey taken out of it, and no one is more conscious of that then fantasy writers today.

Plotter or pantser?
Pantser. I write as it comes to me, in flashes of inspiration (read: delusion), otherwise I’d likely be too bored if I knew the entirety of it from the outset.

Which author do you most admire, and why?
This is an impossible question to answer. I admire different authors for different things – their prose, mastery of structure, brilliant concepts, etc. If we’re talking in general, I’d say right now the author I admire most is Patrick Rothfuss, for his inspiring charitable work with Worldbuilders.

Which place that you haven’t visited would you most like to go?
Turkey, my ancestral homeland.

Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror predominantly, although if the past year or two is any indication, my current loves are poetry and literary fiction. Above and beyond everything else, short stories remain my favourite reading type. I also love graphic novels and comic books.

Thanks for talking with us!

Be sure to check out Omar's story in Strangely Funny II, now available in print and e-book formats on Amazon and Smashwords. And don't forget - we're also giving away three free copies of the book on Smashwords! The deadline is August 31, so don't delay!

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