Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello, thanks for having me. I am Ray Hecht, and I’m a thirty-five year old writer.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Where I’m from is a bit of a long story. I identify as American, but I was born in Israel. My dad is American, and my mom is from the Soviet Union. They met abroad and got married, but my sister and I moved to the United States when we were just babies. My earliest childhood memories took place in Indianapolis, Indiana but I consider my hometown to be Cincinnati, Ohio because that’s where I came of age and where I lived the longest in my life.
I went to college to study film in Long Beach, California, and lived there for several years before I had the opportunity to move to China. I resided in Shenzhen in Guangdong Province for a whopping eight years and only a few months ago I moved yet again. Now I live in Taiwan, in the city of Hsinchu around Taipei. I think I’ll stay here a while—moving so much is getting tiring!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
The latest is that I joined the local Taipei Writer’s Group and I will be contributing to their new “Taiwan Tales” anthology book with a short story. Coming soon…
Prior to that, I wrote a short story entitled “Saturnine, In Her Head, Out of Time” which is a science fiction tragic romance. I humbly self-published it, but I am rather proud of it and I hope to find more readers.
Otherwise, I’m always blogging over at rayhecht.com.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always written to some degree. My first love was actually drawing, and I did some poorly-made comics during my wayward youth. In my early twenties on a whim I decided to start expanding my shorts into novels, and here I am. I always loved reading and had a lot to say about the world, so writing fiction just seemed natural at the time.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been a bit embarrassedto state thatI’m a writer, but I suppose when I first knew I was legitimate was when I started getting articles published about six years ago. After moving to China, I started some journalism gigs by writing travel stories. Once my name was in print in actual newspapers and magazines, I certainly had to consider myself a writer at that point.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
On that note, the books I scribbled away at before I was a “real writer” may not count as much. so I will consider South China Morning Blues my true first book. It was published about a year ago by Blacksmith Books in Hong Kong.
It was inspired simply by living in China and observing all the crazy characters who become expats. I had to tell stories about those people.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title is basicallya play on the South China Morning Post newspaper, that quality English-language news source in the region, and to be honest it simply popped into my head one day and somehow seemed appropriate.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My writing style is more or less first-person narration, or even if third-person it always revolves around focusing on specific characters. I find that is the best way to get inspired is to createa very fleshed out and realistic person, and then explore their actions in some setting.
It can be challenging when juggling a lot of different characters, trying to give each one a unique voice, but it’s very rewarding in the end when it all comes together.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I am often asked if my book is based on true stories, and I have to say that it’s not. It’s fiction. However, there are aspects of personal experiences (and those that I’ve heard about happening to other people) which I change to make it original enough to justifiable write about.
Moreover, the characters are amalgams of different real people and creations from within own imaginations. I’d never make up someone based exactly off one person; I’d rather at least try to create an original combination that is all-new to the world.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I definitely have to travel to do the kind of writing I am interested in. Even my stories that take place in America are about how I view California as an outsider and that sort of thing. Although human characters are key, the setting must be a character as well and what’s most interesting to me is to explore how people react in different places.
I suppose the best way to put it is that my system is usually moving to a new place and staying there a year or two and then start writing…
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Sometimes I design my own covers (with help) but my best covers are by professionals. Blacksmith Books hired a designer and that’s why that one turned out so well. I can’t take the credit!
I do enjoy trying to design on Photoshop, even if I’m not good at it,but sometimes a short story or something may turn out decent.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I just want readers to understand the humanity of the flawed people who populate the strange world we live in, and how many different points of views there can be, and that’s more or less the bestI can hope for.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I read a lot so it’s hard to choose, but here are some of my favorites:
Grant Morrison is my favorite comic writer and I love how trippy and deconstructionist he can get with the superhero genre among others.
Neal Stephenson is currently one of my favorite science fiction authors, due to his amazing world-building and extreme intelligence, all while also sofunny and never taking himself too seriously.
Irvine Welsh is my most inspiring literary writer to me, because of his incredible voice and gift at taking readers into the sordid world of Scottish degenerates, those deeply human characters, so well.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Above all I must thank my publisher Pete Spurrier for giving me a chance.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I certainly hope to make a career as a writer! But at this point, I’d settle for some copyediting to make a living in the publishing business.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The funny thing about writing—and any art—is that one never truly finishes. One just has to stop at a certain point. I could change infinite little things with edits after edits, but overall I am happy with how my latest works have turned out. Mostly.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I do some research with my books, and learn about lots of subjects be they Chinese astrology or computer technology. It’s important to keep learning.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Ha, I’d be honored if Paul Rudd would like to play any of my characters!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
The only advice I’d give to writers is to keep going and to understand how hard it takes in the long term. There is no shortcut. Just practice and learn what works for you until the writing gets good, however much time that takes.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Read more, please!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m now in the middle of Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, a good mystery book in a genre I don’t often read.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I’m sure the first books I ever read were comics of some sort.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The latest to make me laugh would be Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to meet Robert Anton Wilson and talk endlessly about human consciousness.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
As said, I like to draw.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
One favorite I am watching lately is Mr. Robot. Very interesting series.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My favorite food above all is Mexican. I did live in California, of course.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
That would be so sad…I would still like to edit if I couldn’t write. Oh and I’d like to draw more.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Rest in peace? Or not. Just rest would be fine.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Please check me out at rayhecht.com!
Here are the links to the specific works: