Interviews and Book Reviews

Book Reviews - As I Died Laughing

Jim Holroyd (September 6, 2016)
This is the first “book” I have read on my phone. My phone has a Kindle app, not sure how it compares with an actual Kindle, as I have never used one. It was an interesting experience, I’m still more comfortable with paper based books, but the Kindle app has advantages like the ability to highlight text, to change the size of the font and at night you don’t need to turn a light on to read. It is interesting that the first book I read on the phone has much about modern communication: email, chat rooms, WebQuests etc… and the difficulties of communication between people online and offline.

There was a comment about blogs that struck me:

“It’s like the blogs you write.”
“What about them ?”
“It’s not as if people are flocking to read them.”

The main story is about relationships between people, especially one particular relationship: Michael feels his marriage has become mundane and lacks something and creates a virtual character Guy, to seduce his wife Julia. This, as you can imagine, is a bad idea, particularly when Julia starts to fall for this alt, who she knows only through emails.

The action flits between Canada and Israel, not too much of a surprise, as the author is a Canadian now living in the Negev Desert. The author himself even makes a couple of appearances, interacting with his protagonist Michael. David Lloyd is not the first author to do this, Clive Cussler, Stephen King and even Somerset Maugham have done this. It is intriguing in a way, the author visiting his own creation as his protagonist is also the creator of a fictitious character.

“Maybe I just don’t know what is real and what isn’t“

Read the whole review on Jim Holroyd’s blog for book reviews and reading.

=============================================================================================================

Steve Hellman (March 4, 2012)
Like millions the world over, David Lloyd’s principal characters are only keystrokes away from challenging dilemmas and fantasies each time they sit down alone at their computers. No explicit explanation is offered as to why Michael and Julia set out to explore new aspects of their identities when they begin a secret virtual correspondence . It is here that I identify the strength of this book. Time and again I found myself thinking how easily so many of the people I know could take the same road. There is nothing about Michael to persuade me that given the right circumstances I might not well take similar decisions. Julia’s responses are totally credible and logical. This is an intriguing tale of happenstance and impulse rather than of tragic personality flaws slowly unraveled by the plot.

The setting flits between Canada and Israel and adds some interesting sociological and cultural insights, not the least of which is the introduction of the lovely Layla. Is this a red herring or the foreshadowing of a political possibly even a terrorist element?

While there is plenty to think and surmise about in this book, the calm easy pace is deceptive. One needs to know how it will end. The ending however, is neither happy nor complete. It is entirely consistent with a plot which focuses on the uncertain journeys of its principal characters as they unwittingly put their everyday “real” relationships to the test. As I Died Laughing is one of the best reads I have had of late.

=============================================================================================================

Jeane Lloyd (January 12, 2012)
The ending did not surprise me, although its abruptness did. But then, this added to its effectiveness. I had thought that “Michael” might walk into the Sea and disappear, thinking that two of them were one too many.

It is an interesting book and well-written, so I congratulate David for undertaking and finishing such a big project. I appreciate how he used his personal knowledge of Toronto, Israel, and the government of a kibbutz.

I thought “Guy” presented the Reader with another variation of the theoretical propagation of man in matter. First, we had him coming from the dust of the ground. Next, from a rib of man, and then from a fertilized egg. Now, from a thought. To me, Michael’s downfall was that he ended up believing it.

I am left with an unanswered question. When did “Julia” realize what was happening?

A story well told leaves one thinking. I would say that “As I Died Laughing” is a thinking person’s book.

=============================================================================================================

Richard Biggs (January 9, 2012)
As I Died Laughing is a wonderful story that is told from multiple points of view. I have classified it as a psychological foray into a variety of interesting characters, all with unusual quirks, as they attempt to separate reality from the virtual. It is a complex book and for many with short interest spans it will seem too complicated. It is definitely a book you have to re-read to fully understand all the twists. I found it a fascinating story but sometimes felt I was at a party where people kept coming and going.

David Lloyd is obviously a talented writer and I look forward to his next book.

=============================================================================================================

Donna Flor (December 6, 2011)
In the beginning of the novel, we are bombarded by an introduction of characters. At first, I found this confusing. But, as the different plots progressed and I began to understand the characters’ parts in each one, I realized we were truly experiencing the world through Michael’s eyes. Michael’s world is divided into three: his daily life as a teacher, husband and father in Toronto; the book he is writing which takes place both in Israel and Canada; and the virtual character that he has created to seduce his wife. There are no clear divisions between these worlds in Michael’s mind, and we are effectively led to view the world around him in the same way.

Creation is one of the main themes in the book, and we must ask ourselves: is the concept of creation here closer to God’s creating man in his own image and likeness, or the creation of a Dr. Frankenstein. There is an interesting point in the book (beware of spoilers) when immediately after Michael and Merav make love for the first and only time, they are suddenly aware of their nakedness – much as if they had tasted from the tree of knowledge and now understand their own limitations. Yet, the wanderings of Michael’s virtual creation and the disastrous effect this has on Michael’s world may be closer to the story of Frankenstein.

The notion of creation is furthered by the choice of names. Michael means – “who is like God”, and Michal is a feminine derivation of this. The fact that Michael appears in the real world and Michal in his story of fiction, may show that not only is she a feminine image of him – their roles reversed in his and her story – but that very little, if anything, separates fact and fiction. As for further possible biblical references: Mark, a leading character in Michael’s novel, can be seen as an apostle documenting the demise of his master through his own personal story. And Mary, Michael’s close friend, is the first to hear his confession.

I felt that the dialogue throughout the novel rang true. I thought it was especially clever the way in which the two children at the beginning spoke in their own made up dialect out of choice, while the butchered English spoken by the owner of the Israeli gallery towards the end was one of necessity. Neither he nor the children cared what others made out of this. Words play such a central part in these stories, weaving a web which bring them together.

I have read many a book where all is find until I get to the ending, but I felt here that the ending fit the book well. Simple and understated, justice was found, perhaps leaving us with a moral that each of us will interpret differently. It is not an especially happy ending, but then how could it be?

With books of this type, I like to go back and read the book again – which I have done with this novel. And I picked up a lot of things the second time around that I had missed, or not completely grasped the first time. This is a book that I may use with my literature class, as so many things can be explored further and discussed.

In conclusion, one can only ask why it took this author so long to write his first novel. I hope we will see another one from him soon.

=============================================================================================================

Sara Bergman (October 30, 2011)
Finished reading late at night, couldn’t put it down, this is definitely a page turner. This is an outstandingly vast and complex big picture, and putting the puzzle pieces together (and watching how the author chose to put them together) is fascinating. David came up with a powerful colorful sizzling composition. For me, personally, composition is the core of writing, nothing new under the sun and it all amounts to the way we edit and copy paste our numerous realities.

Parts I liked most were Michael’s conversations with “her”. I found those moments explorative, insightful and modest in their humbleness facing the great beyond. Another part was Mark’s character which came through as very authentic and I could easily relate to him. Another thing was the ending – powerful, quiet, very private and human.

Things I had a difficulty with:
1. Personally I would have preferred less parallel plot lines for the sake of learning more and going deeper into the main ones.
2. Merav’s character didn`t work for me. I found it hard to relate to her circumstances.
3. The adoption drama was a bit too melodramatic for my own taste.
4. I would have liked the emails part to be much more comprehensive, since for those relationships (Michael and Merav and Guy and Julia) there is nothing but the written verbal. (I would also expect a gmail relationship to naturally involve chat and voice, if not cam.)

I admire the author’s emotional (st)ability to keep the novel’s scope so inclusive as to allow the multiple universes to interact without bringing the whole house down. Cheers for the sheer braveness and boldness of it all.

=============================================================================================================

David Fontyn (October 8, 2011)
I read the book on my PDA. I found myself firing up the FBReader at every possible moment (any “Idle” time).

It’s a “thinking man’s” book. You find yourself going back and forth in your mind to connect all characters and plots going on.

You find yourself trying to guess why/what/who and sometimes succeed 🙂 alas not always :).

This book interweaves the novel with the modern Online world. It leaves you thinking and trying to guess who was the puppeteer and what happened.

I am waiting for the next book by David Lloyd.

=============================================================================================================

Naomi Epstein (October 8, 2011)
Visualising Ideas – Saturday’s Book: “As I Died Laughing” by David Lloyd

As a rule, I don’t care what format a book is in- I’m interested in the content.

However, since I don’t own an electronic reader I have ignored E-books till now. It isn’t comfortable to read them on Adobe Reader. Particulary as I spend enough time working on the computer, I would rather read for pleasure away from the computer.

So why am I reading this one?

My original motivation was simply that it is written by David Lloyd. David gave the Israeli English teachers in Israel an online email support/discussion group in the early 1990s, I believe, long before there was social media and online personal learning networks. This group, ETNI, was and remains very important to me. David blogs at Why I may still be Canadian

My motivation now is that the characters are intriguing, I have no idea what will happen next and I’m curious to find out!

It it wasn’t an E-book I would have finished it by now! However, as I read something else in bed before going to sleep, it will take me a bit longer…

=============================================================================================================

Karen Budd (September 27, 2011)
As this is a book in electronic format, I’ll divide my review into electronic and content reviews – as a voracious reader of books in this format, both are important considerations, and I’m aware that the author is not always responsible for the format. I’m honestly not very good at reviewing but will do my best and feel free to ask anything!

TECH REVIEW – Very accessible, hosted on a user-friendly website with a simple download procedure. The option to download a sample of the book at no charge is available, which I took to quickly check formatting and style before I bought the book.

It worked brilliantly on my Kindle and formatting and editing were excellent, much better than many works available.

CONTENT REVIEW – David’s narrative is deceptively simple. He engages you with a chatty and comfortable style of writing before exploding some of the bombs of his ideas over your head. The reader is free to be swept along with the story without getting weighed down in ponderous descriptions. The character development is thorough, and the author allows them to be themselves, with their own motivations and actions, without telling the reader how we should be reacting to them.

I don’t think I need to review the story, as the plot synopsis is enough there, but it’s not just a simple tale of one relationship. Along the way we encounter all sorts of relationships – ‘real-life’ friendships and love, and online interactions, both between ‘real’ identities and identity constructs.

David’s book challenges the safe idea that ‘real relationships are good and online relationships are bad’ that we are fed by the media – but, true to reality, you’re left feeling that there are pitfalls to be negotiated in both.

 

Interviews - As I Died Laughing

LLOYD SPEAKS OUT!

David Lloyd is the brilliant founder of ETNI, a website offering vital information and outreach to English teachers in Israel and worldwide. He founded the Etni Rag, an ezine for English teacher-writers, and has created a marvellous mailing list that offers opportunities for teachers to grow in mutual deliberation, question and support.

With his latest novel, “As I Died Laughing”, he has emerged as a writer of fiction. His blog “Why I May Still Be Canadian”, also offers an opportunity to see his other sides. He graciously agreed to be interviewed for Writers Speak Out!

David Lloyd

David Lloyd

ID Card

Full name:  David Lloyd

Current residence:  Midreshet Ben Gurion, Negev, Israel

Birthplace:   Belleville, Ontario, Canada

Belleville, Ont - Sde Boker, Israel

Belleville, Ont – Sde Boker, Israel

Favourite Childhood memory:  Camping by Ontario lakes with parents and sister

Favourite expression: Never say never

 And we begin:

Judih: Can you use one word to describe yourself as a writer

David: haunted

J: (haunted!) Do you have a special place or time for writing?

David: Most of my writing is usually done on the weekends. I find it difficult to deal with the creative urge after long tiring work days. The best time for my writing is early morning, Friday and Saturday, stretching into the afternoon.

J: When did you begin to write?

David: I began writing as a child: notes and poems for family members, mostly for my mother on special occasions (birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc.). But my writing really began to take shape at the age of about fourteen when I began writing to a pen-pal (long before the days of Internet). This was to a girl who I had known in elementary school and who had moved away with her parents. Her father visited one day and told us she was lonely and I decided to write her. She tells me that she still has my letters, which she treasures, and we are still the best of friends despite living on opposite sides of the globe. Later in my teen years, I began to carry around a notebook with me in which I would write down all types of observations and ideas.

J: Have other arts contributed to your vision?

David: Music has always been a strong part of my life. Music is also an exploration into words, especially crafted in melody. When first on the kibbutz, at around the age of 19, a friend of mine and I held musical evenings where we played the guitar and sang: usually folk songs, Leonard Cohen being our favorite. Even earlier than that, I used to sit with the librettos of French operas, as a way of improving my French. In doing so, I became aware of the subtle nuances of words in this art form.

J: Do you get inspired by any particular writer or other form of artist (musician, dancer, painter, actor, etc)?

David: I am inspired by anything which reaches in and touches my inner core. My early inspirations were Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. Lately I feel inspired by Damien Rice and Maya Isacowitz, among many others. I love the way the Internet has opened up the world of music, allowing me to discover many different musical artists and musical genres. In the writing world, I have been inspired by many writers in the past: James Joyce, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut – anyone with a unique vision. I am inspired by actors who touch upon human complexity. This doesn’t only depend on the actor but also on the part they are given and the direction of the director. Recently I have been inspired by a very long biography of Mordechai Richler. Inspired by how difficult and strange, at times, his experience was as an author. Nothing is black and white and it is always good to be reminded of this.

J: Do you hear your work when you write or visualize it?

David: I often claim that I have nine different personalities locked inside of me, each struggling to be heard. I can hear the words in my head, when visualizing something new, especially when conceiving of a new blog entry for my blog: “Why I May Still be Canadian”. The words are suddenly heard, triggered by many little things. And when I write – whatever it may be: a novel, a blog, a letter… – I go back over what I have written a number of times, hearing it in my head, fine tuning it until it sounds just right.

David

David

 

J: Would you say you’ve had any particular literary influences?

David: The writing of John Fowles and James Joyce have had an effect on me. Fowles took liberties, introducing the author as a character in the book, offering alternate endings, playing with a story within a story. Joyce broke away from chronological order of things into the “streams of consciousness”. My book might be said to mirror some of these things in many fragmented ways. Other literary influences may be much more subtle, as I read extensively in my teens, about two books a week.  I read much less fiction now, partly because I do so much reading of a different sort on the computer during the day and spend much of my free time writing.

J: And who are your favourite writers?

David: That is difficult to say. I enjoy so many writers from so many different genres. Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, John Fowles, James Joyce, Mordecai Richler, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Dickens, Tolkien, Asimov, Frank McCourt… the list goes on and on.

Mechanics of writing

J: Do you ever find yourself writing during a normal workday?

David: There are times, when something is really burning a hole in my brain and I just have to get it down. But usually I am just too worn out to write, especially on days when I spend most of my time in front of a computer screen. Lately I have been working on 1,000 to 2,000 piece puzzles in the evenings to relax and help organize my thoughts after long work days.

J: Could you describe your writing process?

David: It depends on what I am writing. I may write two blog entries in the same week, or only one blog entry the entire month. I don’t sit down and consciously tell myself that I will now write a new blog entry. Usually something comes to me, triggered by something that I have experienced, heard or read during the day. I will play it over in my head and then sit down and write. I usually never finish it, though, in one sitting.
In writing a novel, I jump from place to place. I may write a new chapter that suddenly appears in my mind, with no idea as to how this will fit into the whole. And later I will piece things together. Usually the way things fit make natural sense, as if I had carefully planned this out beforehand. When continuing to write, I go back again and again to what I have already written, to hear how it now sounds. Sometimes I will throw out an earlier written chapter. At other times I will make significant revisions, or move the chapter to a completely different section of the book.

Writing as Therapy

J: Is writing a tool for therapy in your own life?

David: Definitely. It keeps me sane, while also pushing me towards the edge. It allows me to converse with my inner self. I think our biggest defence mechanism is “denial”. Denial allows us to ignore parts of ourselves and the world around us. Writing forces us to come face to face with our inner demon.

J: Do you feel your writing exposes you?

David: Definitely. Especially in my blog, where I often strip naked and expose myself on many very personal issues.  People often ask me why I do so. I guess it is a balance between keeping to my closed self in day to day life (I do not open up much verbally with most of the people around me) and revealing my inner self through my writing. I think I am exposed more in my blog than in my novel, for in my novel I can still hide behind the fact that people can never be sure which part is fiction and which part is based on my real experience.  

Writing Forums

J: Have you studied writing in a formal academic setting? Or if not, how have you worked on your craft?

David: No, I haven’t. I write and rewrite and constantly learn through the process. Once, when I was just starting out on my novel, I read somewhere that writing is ten percent creation and ninety per cent rewriting. I have discovered how true this is. The rewriting process has become my best teacher.

J: Is there a network of writers that supports you?

David: No. Like most things, I am pretty much out there doing it on my own.

J: Are you involved in the internet writing scene such as writers’ forums?

David: After publishing my book, I tried to become involved more in writers’ and readers’ forums such as Goodreads, but I find it difficult to keep up with this.

J: Would you consider ‘mentoring’ a good young writer? I mean, offering critique, praise, encouragement.

David: In a way, I suppose I already do this through another blog that I started: “The Virtual Muser eBook Review” – in which I review eBooks written by new writers, in the hope that this will help them become a little better known and provide a critique that will hopefully help them as a writer.

J: Sounds good.

How do you feel about getting political in your writing?

David:  I am not interested in getting political. My writing may touch on political topics as a natural outgrowth of the development of plot and character. But this is not meant to be a political statement but rather an exploration of the worlds which surround and shape us. By becoming overtly political, we put a stamp on our forehead and ostracize a significant part of the population that might otherwise identify with much of the book.

Geography

J: Do you see yourself as an Israeli writer?

David: This is something that I have weighed quite a bit in my mind. Would I consider myself as an Israeli writer or a Canadian writer, or both? My formative years, as a child and a youth, were spent in Canada. Almost all of my adult life has been spent in Israel. I don’t think I can claim to be an Israeli writer, as I write in English and much of my worldly outlook has been shaped in my formative years. Yet, how can I consider myself a Canadian writer when removed from the Canadian scene for so long? I guess I am somewhat of an orphan when it comes to writing.

J: Have you received comments on your writing that stick in your mind?

David: I was very ambitious in writing this book, in its fragmented structure and how all is led towards creating a complex mosaic. When coming out with the book, I wasn’t sure if anyone would get it – or if it were possible of being “gotten”. Thus comments by those who did “get” the book, were very important to me. This doesn’t mean that they all understood it in the same way, but that at least they weren’t left scratching their heads in total confusion.
Here are a few comments that stay with me:
David’s narrative is deceptively simple. He engages you with a chatty and comfortable style of writing before exploding some of the bombs of his ideas over your head. The reader is free to be swept along with the story without getting weighed down in ponderous descriptions. The character development is thorough, and the author allows them to be themselves, with their own motivations and actions, without telling the reader how we should be reacting to them.”
“As I Died Laughing is a wonderful story that is told from multiple points of view. I have classified it as a psychological foray into a variety of interesting characters, all with unusual quirks, as they attempt to separate reality from the virtual. It is a complex book and for many with short interest spans it will seem too complicated. It is definitely a book you have to re-read to fully understand all the twists.”
“Like millions the world over, David Lloyd’s principal characters are only keystrokes away from challenging dilemmas and fantasies each time they sit down alone at their computers. No explicit explanation is offered as to why Michael and Julia set out to explore new aspects of their identities when they begin a secret virtual correspondence . It is here that I identify the strength of this book. Time and again I found myself thinking how easily so many of the people I know could take the same road. There is nothing about Michael to persuade me that given the right circumstances I might not well take similar decisions.”
 

The Work, itself

As I Died Laughing

As I Died Laughing

J: Can you offer some background to your latest novel: As I Died Laughing.

J: How was the idea of the novel born?

David: The idea was born from my vast and varied experience with virtual worlds. I first became involved with the Internet in the early 1990’s, mainly through innovative uses of the Internet for education. I became more and more aware of the power of the written word, and how virtual worlds allowed people to “reinvent” themselves. What struck me most was the fine line between so-called “reality” and “fiction”. “As I Died Laughing” was born out of all of this.

J: How did the book grow from idea to reality?

David: I thought that this was a compelling story waiting to be told. Something that many people could identify with in this digital age. So I decided to make it into a novel. As soon as I began writing, things started to take shape. At first, my concept was encased in a rather simple and conventional structure. But as I went along, I realized that that the structure was as much a part of the story as everything else. It was then that I began to rework the whole structure of the novel and add parts which I had originally planned to be a part of a second novel, as I discovered how well they fit together.

J: Were you unavailable to your family during the years of writing? Or, how did you manage to integrate regular daily life with work on the novel?

David: By the time I started writing the novel, my three children were mostly grown up, and needed me much less. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I began writing a novel only quite late in life, when the children were beginning to leave home for their own unique life experiences.

J: Do you have a favourite passage?  Could you offer it here?

David: There are many special passages that suddenly jump back into my consciousness, triggered by something that happens during the day. Here is one of my favourites, that appears early in the book – when the main character commits himself to exploration of a world he will soon have no control over – something very similar to the role of a writer:

“He didn’t know how long he had been out. He was awakened by the tapping of fingers. He raised his head and saw that they were his own fingers. The tapping grew louder and the ticking softened, until it almost disappeared. Looking up at the clock, it appeared that time had stopped. But it was only an illusion. Nothing was real. Nothing could be at that moment.
The words hung above him on the screen, useless, without his divine intervention. Guy was waiting. His creation, created in his own image and likeness. Waiting for the breath of life, which could only be when he had dotted the final ‘i’. Crossed the final ‘t’. He pulled himself up and sank back into the chair. All around him was black. There was only one way forward. The light from the screen beckoned. But the words were blurred.
Eighteen years. Ended before it had begun. The ticking had stopped. He could turn back time now. Or at least cheat a little. A time warp, an invention of another world. She was waiting.
Michael leaned forward and reached for the glass of whiskey. He didn’t remember pouring the drink. Or raising the glass. Not until he felt it bite into the back of his throat. He could see the words clearly then. Dancing in front of him. Taunting, celebrating the moment, daring him to go back. He set the glass down on the table, his hand unsteady.
His fingers reached out and clasped the mouse, its hard cold plastic foreign to his touch. Edging it slowly, he reached across the screen until one finger hung poised above the only button that made any sense. 
He didn’t remember the moment of execution. He could always claim that. Denial. It had served him well until now. But it was gone. A letter sent. A letter that might change his life.”

J: Do you feel entirely connected to your book, or do you sense another book brewing in your subconscious?

David: That is a very good question. Another book has been brewing in my consciousness, but after continually hearing from people that my first book would make a great movie, I have been working – this past year – on a screenplay for the book and am almost finished.

J: Any final comments, questions you wish I hadn’t asked or had thought to ask? Feel free to add, subtract.

David: For most of my life, my writing has been a personal experience. Only relatively lately have I begun to bring my writing out into the open (through my novel and blog). One might say that I was driven to do so by the need to leave some type of legacy. Now that I am “out there”, I am very interested in reading readers’ comments. Both regarding my blog and my novel. So, please feel free to write me and let me know your thoughts. You can find all of the information needed for contacting me, accessing my novel and my blog on my homepage:
http://david.greenlloyd.com

J: Thanks, David!

David: Thanks Judih for giving me this chance to talk about my writing.

Back to top