THE PREAMBLE IT’S ALL ABOUT ME, ME, ME PART
So when one of my geeky buddies tells me that after years of writing for his own personal pleasure and gratification (steady, behave!) he has finally decided to take the plunge and show his work to the wider world, well I have to admit that I was conflicted.
Oh, do not misunderstand me, I wasn’t conflicted due to any doubt in my friends abilities – after all the reason David King-Pin Lei and I originally hooked up (virtually – I said behave) was after I’d seen his marvellous work as an indie filmmaker some years ago. No, of his talents I had no doubts at all. In all honesty it was plain jealousy – nothing more than that. Another of my creative friends taking the plunge, being brave and actually putting their work out there for the world to judge – so thankfully the world of social media in particular isn’t too judgy or diversive, eh?
So putting my shallowness and insecurities aside for a short while (well it could never be a permanent endeavour on my part) I decided to fall back on the barely slightly less-shallow ability of mine to bask in the glory of those around me. After all, if you can’t be a Beatle then be a Brian Epstein I say – well, that is, apart from the alleged death due to pills element…..what, too soon? Or, if you can’t be Doctor Who then at least be one of his assistants (that’s one for David himself)
It was a couple of weeks ago when David told me that he’s bitten the bullet and put out in the grand vista of Internetland his collection of short stories. Not only that but I could have my pick of stories to read from his Amazon Kindle store – and so in my tried and tested behaviour of getting something for free I decided on reading his short story, Hero: Requiem for the lost. However, before I talk a little about what I thought of the story let’s hear a few thoughts from the man himself……
THE INTERVIEW PART
Q) Firstly, tell us about your inspirations for storytelling, both in Cinema and literature.
I’ve always been inspired by stories that make you think, that takes ideas we are all familiar with and turns them 90-degrees to offer a slightly different take or perspective. As well, I love stories that have characters that are both relatable and humanly flawed. No matter how cool a plot-line can be, it’s the characters that give a story its soul.
Story-wise, I’ve been inspired by movies like “Memento”, “Pan’s Labyrinth”, “Dark City”, “City of Lost Children” and “Pumpkinhead”. These are stories with great ideas and characters stuck in mind-boggling situations. As well, many of these stories either are or have elements of dark fairy or folk tales, which I absolutely love!
In literature, I’ve been influenced by the Cosmic Horror of H.P. Lovecraft, the haunting Sci-fi and Fantasy of Ray Bradbury, and the stories from the multi-talented Richard Matheson which range from Urban Horror to the downright heartbreaking.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge that I am also influenced by comic books. Because of their very nature, they are both cinematic and literary. With comics such as The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, The Spirit, and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to name a few, they have greatly impacted my storytelling in both Cinema and Literature. I go into more detail in a later question on how comic books have influenced one of my stories.
Q) Why do the genre’s of sci-fi, fantasy & horror relate to you more than others?
Aside from being a purely escapist fare that allows us to take a break from everyday life (which I find absolutely necessary in these COVID lockdown times), Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror allows me to stretch my imagination and explore ideas and concepts that both thrill and challenge me. There’s just something immensely satisfying about creating impossible stories that takes place in fantastical settings, and mind-bending stories that can both thrill and horrify readers.
Q) So why did you decide now to publish your writing?
Well, for starters, I’ve dreamed of being a published author since I was little, but after getting rejection after rejection, that dream seemed to get out of reach for me. Someone once told me that my literary language was simple and lacked the sophistication that authors are known for. I was aware of this and believed that was why I was having such a hard time getting published. But that did not stop me from writing so I just continued writing short stories and novellas over the years, even as I began to pursue a career in filmmaking. It was about 6 years ago that I began to notice the popularity of authors who, like myself, did not write with complicated literary language and structures but were able to thrill their readers with their stories written the way as they were. And they were getting published!
This made me start to reconsider publishing my stories. With the COVID19 lockdown happening in the Toronto area this past year, it gave me time to go through my stories and consider putting them out into the world. As well, throughout the years, my friends, colleagues and teachers (some of whom are authors) have been pushing me to publish my writing. It was when one of my friends recently told me about Amazon Kindle allowing authors to publish short stories through their Short Reads program that I decided to take the plunge and publish my stories as ebooks on the Amazon Kindle store.
Suddenly, I became aware of this avenue to put out my individual stories very quickly to an international audience. And I have a LOT of stories I’ve written over the years.
Q) I’ve recently read your short story (which can be purchased from your Amazon site) called Hero: Requiem for the lost. I love the way it taps into the current crop of anti-superheroes such as The Boys – what was the inspiration for this story?
Thank you, you’re very kind. The funny thing is, “Hero: Requiem for the Lost” is one of my older stories. I originally wrote Hero back in 1998 while I was still in University as an extra-credit Creative Writing assignment. Having grown up during the great maturation of the comic book industry in North America, I read comics such as Frank Miller’s run of Daredevil and The Dark Knight Returns, Alan Moore’s American Gothic run of Saga of the Swamp Thing and The Watchmen, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and of course the grandfather of them all, the gritty post-apocalyptic and darkly satirical Judge Dredd.
These darker, more mature comics centred around deeply flawed and troubled heroes blew my young mind, offering another viewpoint to the same old comic book stories I’ve read over and over again. It was from this dark fertile ground that Hero was born. I wanted to explore the archetypal superhero with this darker, more realistic lens. And with the current popularity of anti-superhero stories right now, I decided to dust off Hero and include it as one of my first three short stories to be published.
Q) Where can your books be bought?
Currently they are available on Amazon’s Kindle Store in most countries. For example;
Canada Amazon Kindle Store:https://www.amazon.ca/King-Pin-Lei/e/B08P444J2T/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1
US Amazon Kindle Store:https://www.amazon.com/King-Pin-Lei/e/B08P444J2T?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1609626873&sr=1-1
Q) What is the future for King-Pin Lei, writer?
I am currently writing my first novel, which will begin a whole new series. Stay tuned for more details. I have ideas for many books that I hope I will have the opportunity to publish.
Q) What is the future for King-Pin Lei, filmmaker?
I’m currently working to finish my first feature film, “Killing Schrödinger’s Cats”. It’s an ambitious film to make for a first film and as a result, it has been a very long journey. I’ve been working on it for the past 14 years. It’s finally almost finished post-production and I can not wait for people to see it.
I also have my next 4 feature films already planned out, with their screenplays already written. And that includes the feature film to “Hero: Requiem for the Lost” that I have been trying to make for a very, very long time. Stay tuned for more details.
HERO: REQUIEM FOR THE LOST
At around just 8 pages long Hero: Requiem for the lost is a beautiful examination into what has recently become ever more popular in contemporary comic book culture – particularly in the areas of TV and cinema. I know that the idea of examining the flip side of the superhero coin has always interested fans of the genre, The Watchmen comics for example were a prime example of considering what can go wrong in regard to the power they may possess and the subsequent effect this could have on a blindly obedient public that in turn can become cynical of their motives.
However, in recent times this re-appraisal of superheroes in terms of considering the dark side of the concept of an all-powerful, near indestructible entity has seemingly gained momentum. This may be in part to the behemoth success of the MCU and so a reaction of sorts has come in to play with the likes of The Boys and Umbrella Academy TV adaptations, both of which examine this notion of superhero’s not being exactly the wholesome Captain America or Superman of old. Indeed, the excellent Brightburn movie of a year or two ago beautifully captured the notion of what would happen if a Clarke Kent type situation arose with a child with superpowers landing on Earth – but this time instead of standing for truth, justice and the American way he actually turns out to be a psychopathic little shit.
As David said in the interview, Hero: Requiem for the lost was actually written some time ago, well before the current anti-superhero zeitgeist – so it seems that not only is he a talented writer and filmmaker, but is is also something of a sage…….Dare I say, Witch? Of course there was a time when such behaviour might result in a burning at the stake or having a red hot poker placed in areas where a red hot poker should never, ever go. However, in these more (arguably) enlightened times let’s say that predicting the fashion years in the future is a talent that should be lauded.
David said that he wanted to explore the archetypal superhero with a darker, more realistic lens. This he has done – and to excellent effect I may add, as the short story nicely explores a theme of a Jonathan Hero wrestling with his colossal powers and the inevitable consequences that come with that. Those consequences, on both the ‘hero’ himself and perhaps more importantly on the public at large are described in emotive detail.
Short stories by their very nature take grand themes and condense them into a tight narrative microcosm – the effect is always to want more if the story is well told. Hero: Requiem for the lost is no exception – `I would love to hear more about the adventures (and torment) of Jonathan Hero.
You can contact and find out more about David and his work via his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/dave.lei