Interview with Y R U Laffing

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I ever read --well I think it was the first story--let's say the first story that really had one hell of an impact on me was without doubt, John Steinbeck's, 'East of Eden'. No wonder it won him the Nobel Prize for Literature. I was in my early teens at the time and was going through that period in my life when I was philosophising about whether a person's nature was inherited through the genes or was the effect of one's environment. Cal,one of a twin in the story finds himself guilty of committing unsavoury acts the likes of which he knew would cause the people concerned a lot of pain and subsequent suffering. He viewed himself a clone of his mother who had chosen the life of a prostitute. She had drugged her husband on his wedding night and slept with the man's brother for no other reason other than she could. She had murdered her parents, poisoned the madam who owned the brothel she joined, to go on and blackmail the prominent clients of the town of Salinas before professing to her son Cal that he was ruthless like her. Cal purposely entices his unsuspecting praiseworthy brother Aron to meet his mother who until that time did not know existed. He took flight, the consequences of the meeting driving him into deep depression. The final scene of the book takes us to Adam Trask's death bed confronted by his son Cal and his late brother Aron's girlfriend once Aron fell on the killing fields of France during WWI. Also present is the ever-faithful maidservant who has always stood by Cal as she believed his good side which showed undeniably on the occasion when Adam squandered the family fortune on a poor business venture involving the refrigerated railroading of vegetables. Cal in the meantime had made a fortune in speculating on the sale of beans but is turned down when he offers the money to his father on the grounds that his father believes he earned the money dishonestly. Adam finally realizes that the maidservant's observation that Cal's misconduct was driven by being faced with continual distrust and hostility which had a detrimental effect on any lacks in his genetic makeup.
How do you approach cover design?
I approach cover design with common sense. What I mean is I make sure the contents of the story is prominently depicted on the cover. If the central theme of the story involves the Palestine Liberation Organization for example, I'd make damn sure the kaffiyeh with either black or red checks are displayed wrapped around the face of an individual and a slit for an opening shows through. One or two AK47's. The lettering must have a Middle Eastern look. Not too many items must be presented as this would cause confusion to the eye. In my novel 'The Ancestor's Assassin' which has as its main theme the Soweto riots of 1974, the part played by the KGB in the struggle, the CIA, the part played by the middle class black man in the struggle and the tribal black man. Once I removed the logo of the KGB, the logo of the CIA and left only a head and shoulders of a black individual whose left half of his face a tribal appearance with leopard skin bandanna and tribal scars, while the right shows the guy with one side of a trilby hat, sunglasses on the one side. Flames from a burning tyre and smoke--that's all. A romance involving the seduction of a young drop dead beautiful woman will show a female with erotic sex appeal taking up most of the cover as she exposes herself in clinging see-through silky gown. But a more sedate romance will only show the 'promise of romance' as the attractive business woman is attired in smart but not overly sexy attire. mid-calf skirt and suit with blouse showing beginnings of breast cleavage --great! As I'm only an unknown author the author lettering will not be too large as is the case of the best sellers. Bright striking colours are essential for a panoramic landscape or seascape while in certain instances black and white for a murder scene.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg which was predominantly dominated by progressive upper-middle class English speaking whites who, by and large, politically opposed the Afrikaans speaking white population that supported the white largely right wing government. As my dad ran a service station in the heart of the black township of Soweto where I would accompany him to work on most weekends as a kid, being surrounded by black folk most of my life left me pretty comfortable in their presence. My dad however was not a 'bleeding liberal' by any means and looking back now I realize that his frustration with his customers although deprived of their rights and dignity was brought on by their inability to stand up for themselves. So many of them but by no means all took to violence. Nelson Mandela was caught manufacturing bombs and storing AK47's by the truck load. In fact in the basement beneath the dental consulting rooms I worked at just outside Johannesburg, sufficient Russian arms and explosives were discovered by the Bureau Of State Security to supply a revolutionary army. A rather unpleasant form of execution called 'necklacing was employed where a tyre filled with diesel fuel was strung around the neck of the victim and set on alight. I have mentioned these facts in my faction novel called the "Ancestor's Assassin".
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing in my early twenties when I got involved in a business venture with a number of black football clubs in South Africa accompanied by two other guys. I wrote up the reports for our weekly meetings with the bosses of these clubs, describing out of context the unusual business practices carried out by these fascinating characters. You see they worked according to what is known as 'African time' which meant they would arrive a couple of hours late, and if they arrived at all, would subsequently not adhere to any customary commercial system in their bookkeeping as it simply consisted of splitting the take almost down the middle. Even the way they played their soccer was unusual to say the least. Who ever heard of a witchdoctor casting a spell on the opposition's goals, by placing a locked padlock in the goals to prevent the ball from entering?' Each side would bribe the referee for a win with the same amount of cash. To my way of thinking I saw no advantage to this practice as to which side was the ref supposed to favour? Taking down the facts relating to the pre-match preparation was a real doozy. What advantages could be gained when the trainer takes his side out at midnight in the dead of Winter, stark naked, after having smeared them with the blood of a slaughtered goat, and then ordering each team member to recite an incantation as he throws an egg across a river with a shivering throwing arm? The football match played on the following day almost always manifested as a poor display by eleven very sick players. I included many of these strange customs in my book entitled "The Ancestor's Assassin". What a way to start a writing career in preparation for winning the Pulitzer Prize, wouldn't you say?
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story behind my latest book concerns a humorous account of my 44years in dental practice beginning with my university undergraduate years and ending with my retirement a year ago. But I must point out that many a true word is spoken in jest. At times it felt like a life-sentence without the possibility of parole. I have learnt many things from my patients over the years, and most of it was about fear makes cowards of us all. I just could not leave out mentioning those famous people in history who happened to be dentists. Remember Paul Revere, the American patriot, who saved America by spreading the news of the British invasion force? The gunfighter Doc Holliday who walked the streets of Tombstone with his Colt45 still smoking in between working on patients' mouths? Horace Wells, the Hartford dentist regarded as the Father of general anaesthetics when he found a use for laughing gas at a circus of all places! Painless Parker is my favourite by far. This eccentric dentist who travelled the West Coast of the United States with his circus of noisy performers who distracted the patients while Painless Parker removed their teeth in the blink of an eye. The franchise concept adopted by him has become as common in all walks of commercial life on a global scale as brushing one's teeth. Let's get on with those most interesting of patients I mentioned, if it's OK with you. I have arranged the patients according to their commonality in their own chapters with a slogan describing the chapter and its own amusing illustration and caption. I will introduce you to my old English schoolma'am patient who accidentally strolls into the adult sex shop thinking its my new waiting room. Then Carol, my dental assistant will introduce you to her favourite patient, Willem Van Den Lag. Why don't you read about the rest? It's a read you'll never forget. It's called "You're Biting My Fingers" and I go by the pen name of Y.R.U. Laffing...Enjoy!!!
What are you working on next?
I am working on next, a novel about my 'golden years' as I continue the 'second time around' as a grandfather. It describes incidents through the eyes of my grandchildren. As an example let me describe the episode where my grandson when he was 5years-old, had the solution to his grandmother's wrinkles by suggesting we get them out by ironing them with a steam iron. He was however perplexed with the different temperatures shown by the dial- whether he should set the temperature to cottons, acrylic etc...
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The indescribable ecstatic thought that as I am now retired I can get up at any time I choose. I relish the fact that I don't have to be up at 7 am to shave, sh**, choke on my cereal, not have time to give my full attention to Buddy my golden retriever who craves my attention in the form of a friendly wrestle which should have a duration of at least fifteen minutes, ending with a good rub down of his belly and not having to worry about stains left on my clothing from his drooling slobber. I can kiss the wife after she has put on her make-up and not before as I would do when I was still practicing the noble art of dentistry, the thought of which was like a life sentence without the possibility of parole. I can remain in the comfort of my bed until late every day of the week if I choose, to receive the face-book chat with my grandchildren who have immigrated to Sydney, Australia. I can chat to them without having to worry about a patient's toothache or having to listen to their troubles that the female patients can't wait to get off their chests while their hairdresser is on vacation. I laugh out loud at the thought of those suffering earthlings who suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes as they inhale the carbon monoxide fumes and crawl along the highways at a snail's pace. When I finally do get up it is to have a slow delicious breakfast followed by a swim in the deserted townhouse pool devoid of inhabitants who are slogging away at work. The wife and I look forward to TV in the evenings as we partake in a scrumptious meal before the flashing screen. I can't wait for the following day when I have all the time in the world to smell the roses and talk to the trees without backchat from my wooden friends.
What do you read for pleasure?
For pleasure I now read only factual stuff. When I was in my teens and early twenties it was fiction. But as I grew older I realized that there is no such thing as pure fiction. The stuff fiction is written about is based on fact. So why not go to the factual stuff in the first place. In my cynical old age I faithfully adhere to the cliche that fact is stranger than fiction and therefore more exciting. I crave autobiographies of famous people. I'm totally engrossed in stories pertaining to how individuals who started out with nothing became billionaires. People like Aristotle Onassis. Or how by pure chance great inventions were discovered. Take the story of Charles Goodyear for example. As a poor hardware salesman in Philadelphia he spent sometime in a debtor's prison without a bean to his name. Yet he held the patents to products formed by his accidental discovery of vulcanization of raw rubber when he unintentionally dropped raw rubber mixed with sulphur on a hot stove. What astonishes me even more is that Charles died a pauper! Kindly excuse me for I've got a hell'va lot of more reading to do. I have autobiographies for Africa ahead of me. I just can't wait!!
Describe your desk
A complete and utter mess. Although Joburg, South Africa is not a hurricane or tornado zone according to the weatherman, my desktop looks like Hurricane Andrew just went through it at over at least two hundred miles an hour. I just happen to be an untidy person and the reason for it I attribute to my desire to do everything at once. At the moment I have papers everywhere. I also suffer from O.C.D, in that I can't bear to throw things away. So the majority of the papers I no longer have use for. The ballpoint pens no longer write. The dental journals I have beside the printer are outdated like the magazines I had in my waiting room. The 'glue stick' has dried up, yet I cannot throw it away. I think it looks great as an ornament of sorts. The roll of duck tape I'm sure will come in handy. According to the crime series I watch on TV it makes the perfect gag when the wife bitches about the state of the desk top. She says its sufficient grounds for divorce. Promises! promises! THAT'S ALL I GET IN THIS PLACE. Oh,by the way, I forgot to tell you that the desk has five legs as it has a side extension that affords a greater surface area to accommodate more mess!!!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It's a way to let off steam. It allows me to vent my feelings about things I wouldn't normally make known in polite society. It allows me as a faction writer to put words in characters mouths that I would imagine they would say. I let my characters experience the situations' disappointments and pleasures. I am extremely lucky to have a photographic memory whereby the story I am writing enfolds before my eyes like a movie. If I'm writing about a beautiful woman, say, I get a thrill when I imagine that I'm the character applying the foreplay and deciding whether the time is ripe to 'strike' or to bide my time. I guess it allows me to play G-d for a period of time and then return to earth--damn! --I wish the feeling could last forever. It keeps me occupied and never bored. I just love studying people in their everyday environment so that I can store this information for my writing. It's like being a voyeur, a form of playacting where the outcome does not affect me one iota. The responsibility remains with my characters.Creativity is my life's goal.
Published 2016-06-01.
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Books by This Author

You're Biting My Fingers
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 71,060. Language: English. Published: February 11, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire, Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor & satire
"You're Biting My Fingers" deals with those thought -provoking details about dentistry you wanted to know about but were too afraid to ask. It takes you through unusual instances in the dental chair where I guarantee you will find yourself laughing out loud at the antics of those most amusing patients. By the end of the book you will phone your dentist and say: "I just phoned to say I love you!"