Have a story idea? E-mail the editor





Do you have a story idea or an event that needs publicity?
Send us the details and we'll post it for you. Submissions can
be e-mailed to us at

PostHeaderIcon Author Transports Reader to Armenia

Tweet me!

A new book called Masis, written by local author Adam Raffi Kevorkian will transport the reader to modern and lively Armenia _ without the trouble of boarding a plane or jet lag. The writer, with roots in Berkeley, beautifully illustrates an exciting tale in the changing times of the country, with main character Arin Karyan caught between stability and irresistibility. The novel is Kevorkian’s first, and hopefully, one of the many great books to come. We sat down with him for a chat about his book, his writing style, and some tips to aspiring authors. Enjoy.  

ANNB: What gave you the idea for "Masis," your new book? Was it inspired by anything from your experiences?
ARK: In my visits to Armenia I saw many things that I grew up hearing about—architecture, art, historic sites, and even landscape—I was struck by the beauty of the country; the odd confluence of the old with the new. It was as if the country’s history was laid out to be viewed like a museum exhibit, and playing with temporality seemed a natural way to convey the effect. More specifically, the food in the novel was food that I ate there, and every apartment that I entered seemed to resemble the home of Arin. But I never went fishing with grenades or anything so extreme. I did spend the night on the ground in a canyon where the wind seemed to have a life of its own, and the experience lent itself to the mystical tone of the campfire chapter. I found the country inspirational on many levels.
ANNB: When you wrote the novel did you tend to focus more on the plot or the characters?
ARK: I focused more on the characters, though not deliberately. It became necessary to balance other aspects of the story. If the characters are interesting, it’s easier for the reader to make the story their own and, in a way; they help write the story as they read it. Until the women characters were developed, the story seemed flat, so there were a lot of rewrites around the characters, fleshing them out to make them credible.
ANNB: The cover art for the book is beautiful. Is it supposed to be a location in Yerevan?
ARK: Thank you. It’s a painting of Mount Ararat, which is visible from Yerevan. It’s referred to by Armenians as Masis or metz (big) Masis. For the title my meaning refers to Masis as Ararat’s peak, as well as the journey of Armenians over time.
ANNB: How long did it take you to complete the book? Will there be any sequels?
ARK: The work was constantly being refined, meaning that after the core writing was done there were adjustments and this process is open ended, so perhaps completed isn’t the best word. At some point you have to move on, and so it’s really a process of abandonment rather than completion. I wrote the gist of Masis in about four months and had it pretty much done in a year. I’ve thought about a follow-up to the story, but there’s other work that I’m focusing on instead.
ANNB: What message do you hope "Masis" will express?
ARK: There is no singular message. Barthes tells us there can’t be in any case. Joking aside, I wrote it hoping people would enjoy a good story. Admittedly there are themes having to do with nationalism, relationships, crime, and these are pretty heavy and universal topics, so no matter what you say there will be a lot of different thoughts floating around that readers may or may not pick up on.
ANNB: As an author, how often do you write every day?
ARK: I like writing every day, but time is short. Given the opportunity, I would write full time.
ANNB: Do you have any ideas for your next novel, if any?
ARK: I have three novels in my head that I’d like to get out, and the next one is a constant obsession. I’ve learned the hard way not to share my ideas while I’m working through them, but I will say that the next story will take place in Little Armenia and Chinatown.
ANNB: What gives you inspiration to write? (a location, song, anything)
ARK: I didn’t want to write when I was younger, but it felt like the world was calling me non-stop and I finally had to answer the phone. In terms of what inspires the work itself, I respond to music, light, and landscape to name a few things. I’m a sucker for whimsy, and for the emotion that follows the split second epiphany. Writing can also be seductive because it’s compelling. You’re listened to in a way that doesn’t occur when you’re speaking.
ANNB: How do you deal with writer's block?
ARK: I break form. If the work is lyrical, I’ll deviate by writing dialogue better suited to a film script. It might be sloppy craft, but it gives me the freedom to explore when I hit a block. And if the work is sloppy, I can always go back and refine it when I’m feeling more creative. This method works for me because it eliminates the constraints imposed by too rigid a structure. Sure, sometimes what comes out makes no sense, but writers need to trust their intuition, meaning you don’t have to understand how a thought, scene, character, etc. contributes to the plot. Plot is organic, stemming from a little thought that means little, and branching out. I trust that what goes down on paper goes there for a reason, and it usually works out.
ANNB: Do you have any advice for someone wh wants to be a writer?
ARK: Keep your hands moving. If they’re not, words aren’t getting on paper. Understand that there’s no escape from criticism. Take what you can use, what makes you a better writer and do so without being defensive about your work. Stash paper and something to write with everywhere so you can capture the random thoughts that most people let go of. Collect a dozen or so, throw them on paper, and you might find there’s a story there somewhere. The point is you don’t know what’s useful so keep what you find interesting and play with it. If nothing else it’s a great mental exercise. The creative process is always going on, like breathing when you’re asleep—the trick is to capture those odd thoughts and craft them into a story, or poem. Keep it fun and trust your gut. Writing is as much about filling in gaps as it is about linear progression. Play with the work, put it away, and go back to it when you’re ready. If you keep the hands moving, your craft will evolve.-- MM

 Melody Moteabbed is a senior at Castro Valley High School. She is one of the editors-in-chief of the school newspaper, The Olympian. In addition to writing, she also enjoys acting, singing, participating in community service.

Last Updated (Thursday, 20 September 2012 03:22)


Add comment

Security code

For pictures that tell stories you won't soon forget for rejuvenation of body and mind

Follow us on: