A Self-Interview for “Ooter’s Place” (Transcript)

Last summer I published my short story anthology Ooter’s Place and Other Stories of Fear, Faith, and Love. At the time, I came up with what I thought was a funny idea to promote the book, and quickly sat down and wrote out a transcript of myself interviewing … myself. But I was so excited with everything going on that I completely forgot about it until I recently found the document while searching for something else. Now that I’m busy with other projects (like preparing to launch Father John VS the Zombies), I don’t think I’ll ever actually film the video, which is too bad, because re-reading the transcript gave me a chuckle and because I have weird hang-ups about wasting writing (for whatever reason, Christ’s order in John 6:12 that nothing be wasted has always resonated deeply with me).

So because I got a chuckle out of it, and so that nothing may be wasted, here is the never-filmed transcript of my self-interview to promote Ooter’s Place and Other Stories of Fear, Faith, and Love.

An Interview with Karl El-Koura

by Karl El-Koura

Close-up on K1.

K1: Karl El-Koura is a writer who lives in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario. He started submitting his work at the tender age of 15 and sold his first story in his last year of high school, for the princely sum of $15. Since then, over sixty of his short stories and articles have appeared in different magazines. Recently he published Ooter’s Place and Other Stories of Faith, Fear, and Love, a collection of 13 of his best short stories.

Camera pulls back, K2 is now seen.

K1: Welcome, Karl.

K2: Thanks, Karl.

K1: Tell us—a little bit about yourself.

K2: Didn’t you just do that? In the intro?

K1: (consulting notes, clearly isn’t listening) Wonderful. Tell us—a bit about the book you’ve just released.

K2: OK. It’s a short story collection, like you said. 12 of the stories were published between 1998 and 2010, and the 13th is a bonus story, exclusive to this collection. There’s a lot of variety here: you’ll find stories of science fiction, fantasy, horror, detective fiction, military fiction, and even superhero fiction.

K1: (still consulting notes, waiting for a pause) Wonderful. Tell us—why should someone buy your book?

K2: I think there are some good tales to be had here, first and foremost. A reader will get some solid hours of entertainment, while getting to know interesting characters and the worlds they inhabit.

Second, I hope people will discover or rediscover the magic of short stories. I first fell in love with the work of writers like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Philip K. Dick by reading their short stories. The “Father Brown” short mysteries by G.K. Chesterton, to take another example, are just delightful. I think short stories are wonderful because you can get a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an end even if you only have, say, thirty minutes before your commute comes to an end.

Third, I hope that readers are exposed to genres that they may not otherwise read, especially since there’s a wide variety of genres on display in this collection. Typically we watch all kinds of movies (no one in my hearing has ever said, “I only watch science fiction movies”) but it sometimes seems that our tastes are more narrow when it comes to choosing books to read. I’m hoping at least a few readers who pick up this book will think to themselves, “I never thought I’d like a horror story, but I liked this one!” or “I thought spaceships and aliens weren’t my cup of tea, but this science fiction story was pretty good.”

K1 has been looking at K2, but not really listening.

K1: (talking to himself) That was a long answer. (looks down at his notes) Wonderful. Tell us—why should someone buy your book?

K2: I believe I just answered that.

K1: (looks off-camera) We’ll fix this in post, right? (nods, looks down at his notes) Wonderful. Tell us—what’s your favourite story in the collection?

K2: That’s a really hard question to answer. “They Came From Ooter’s Place” is the first story I sold, so it holds a special place in my heart. “At War” is an important reminder to me about being true to one’s values, despite what your friends and colleagues are doing. “Chasing Carrots,” the bonus story, I love because it’s about a love-affair with books. “The Curious Case of the Book Barron” is a lot of fun, and was born from the strange feeling I got walking into people’s homes who didn’t have any bookshelves or books. “A house without books is like a person without a soul,” one of the characters in the story says. “Atheists Against God and the Devil of Destruction” is one of my favourite titles, which is a bit funny because the magazine that bought it didn’t like it and made me change the title to “Confession.” But—

K1: (cuts him off) I just wanted one, really. (looks off camera) We can fix that in post, right? We’ll just cut him off after the first story he mentioned, the one with the weird title? (looks back down at notes) Wonderful, Karl. Just wonderful. Tell us—what are you working on now?

K2: Next up is a book called The ‘Lost’ Stories: A Series of Cosmic Adventures, which will collect my stories of Captain James Kollins. These are “feghoots” (funny stories that end with a pun) where the jokes are inspired by the Bible. They’re half-Star Trek parody, and half-spiritual or theological fiction. I think the stories are hilarious, but even if no one else laughs, I defy anyone to read these stories and not crack a smile at least—or groan out loud.

K1: Wonderful. Good luck with the film.

Camera closes in on K1. In the background, K2 is heard to say “What film? Have you been listening to anything I’ve said?”

K1: Ooter’s Place and Other Stories of Faith, Fear, and Love is now available in ebook and paperback formats. Visit www.ootersplace.com/OotersPlace/ for details. Thanks for watching.

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Karl El-Koura was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and currently lives with his beautiful editor-wife in Canada’s capital city. More than sixty of his short stories and articles have been published in magazines since 1998, and in 2012 he independently published his debut novel Father John VS the Zombies.

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