Monday, March 4, 2013

Author Interview: Ushiku Crisafulli

Welcome Ushiku Crisafulli to Author Fever

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I'm either gaming, reading books and graphic novels, running my OpenMind variety performance night, watching a gig somewhere, performing somewhere, cooking for guests or eating out with friends. 

If you had to choose an all-time favorite book, what would it be?

Max Barry's Jennifer Government, as whilst it is dystopian fiction the best fiction deals with what could be. The scariest of thoughts aren't of the monsters of a Stephen King novel, but of the monsters that we as humans become due to our social conditioning, ideologies or life experiences. In the world of Jennifer Government ultra-capitalism has made it so that peoples surnames cease to be based on family ancestry or bonds of marriage but instead are governed by the nature of which corporation they work for. The inclusion of 3 John Nike's in this story speaks for itself, and that's just the John Nike's we meet. Nike is a huge corporation and John is a very common name!

What inspired you to start writing?

A mixture of hip hop music, Green Day's American Idiot album, and the increased politicization of my fellow teens in the aftermath of 9/11 created a culture where innovation and asking questions of the world thrived. Of course as Herbert Read said, artists are both the bane and the catalyst between all social movements. I wonder what today's teens aspire to. It seems their culture is that of instant “fame” from internet memes. Perhaps I should try to engage with them and find out where they're at, what they're thinking.

What is your favorite genre to write?

I mostly write as a performance poet, playwright and musician, with some prose but my writing veers into comedy, political commentary, social commentary, romantic relationships, fantasy, science fiction, sexuality, family, friends, pop culture, and issues of perception and identity. Furthermore my The Five Faces of Fulli characters also deal with individual aspects of my personality and associated interests. Sir Benjamin represents my love of refined things and steampunk culture; Cowboy Crisafulli celebrates my love of country music and hip hop alongside my Sicilian ancestry; Bidaman is a nod towards my love of comic books and a celebration of my sexuality; Indigo Angel is a reference to my interests in philosophy, spirituality and fantasy; and El Poetico is an expression of my love of wrestling. 

Do you have a set writing schedule, or do you do it when the fancy strikes?

I definitely write when inspiration strikes, and often in very long spurts when this happens, such as a whole day or two on extensive pieces or on a common theme or project.

Do you outline or write as you go (describe your writing process)?

I definitely write as I go. It may be a controversial belief amongst writers but I believe that all ideas are at their most beautiful when initially laid down from the mind onto the page. When we try to intellectualize our pieces and frame them with constant redrafts the idea becomes secondary to the process.

Do you have a certain vice that helps you write?

Not really, although my freestyle hip hop does become much better when drunk. Contrary to my writing style which is stream of consciousness. I often become too self-conscious when freestyling, but alcohol removes that mental block and I can freestyle as freely as I write.

Describe your muse.

Life and the experiences within it are my muse. Though recently I've decided to attempt to discipline myself so that if I'm surfing the web and find something that interests me then I'll write about it in some form so that my procrastination is rewarded with art rather than just being a fun albeit fruitless waste of time.

What inspires you?

Identity and perception are my biggest inspiration. I love work based on that theme. I've ran performance workshops around that theme. I often hand a ball around the group representing a spherical earth and ask people if they had an infinitely powerful device that allowed you to play God (similar to the cosmic cubes in Marvel Comics or the QiiQ in my play Infinite Perspectives) or put in secular terms the ability to change the world by pure thought, what would they do? It's a good way of finding out about people, their perceptions, and their desires, and it's a lot more of an interesting ice breaker than a “say your name and something about yourself beginning with the first letter of your name”, if I had a pound for every time I heard that I'd be richer than the Queen.

Are the people in your life supportive of your writing?

My friends are, my adoptive mother wasn't always but as the writing accolades and university grades continue to increase she's warming to it. Everyone else has always been supportive, I've got great friends I see as family, and when I met my biological family in Italy we combined it with them seeing me perform in a headlining slot in Rome. Talk about an ice breaker!

Is music a part of your writing process?

Definitely. It's either playing whilst I'm writing or sung/rapped whilst writing if it's a music piece that I'm writing.

Share with us a dreamcast of your novel.

I have a fantasy novel idea whereby the Unicorns are Gods and man does not exist. Following the fighting between the Elves, Dark Elves, Centaurs, Orcs, and Dwarves humans are created with the agility of the Elves, the sorcery of the Dark Elves, the logic of the Centaurs, the strength of the Orcs, and the alchemy of the Dwarves. Rather than having dominion over them as peace keepers they instead lust for domination as they inherit the dark traits of each race also. The racism of the Elves, the wickedness of the Dark Elves, the stubbornness of the Centaurs, the savagery of the Orcs, and the selfishness of the Dwarves. The Unicorn Gods are then forced to intervene directly. I plan for it to be a three parter. I've had the idea for awhile but never really started writing it up. It's definitely going to be done one of these days. Probably on one of those stay up all night writing nights like tonight. 

Tell us about your current work in progress.

My current work in progress is my comedy album Silly Semantics which is going to be the first album launched under OpenMind's Grim Ushiku Media project. I've also written a comedy science fiction sequel to my Infinite Perspectives play which is set in Biblical times featuring a time traveling Prince and alien parasites that embody the Seven Deadly Sins.

Where can our readers find more about you? 


If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

Bidaman already has superpowers, his impressive execution of his sexuality is his superpower.

Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

I'm more of a drink straight from the bottle kinda guy.

If money were no option, where would you live?

I'd have a place in Virginia with my loved ones, a place in Italy close to my biology family, a home in the Lake District in England, a castle laced in UV paint in Scotland that would become an alternative nightclub after dark, and somewhere in Tokyo since I love Japanese history, technology, culture, anime and computer games, plus the food's pretty awesome too.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A singer or a professional wrestler.

What is your all-time favorite movie?

Pay It Forward. I saw that movie when I was homeless in 2007, it's the one movie that kept my faith in humanity. That and meeting the people who would go to become my greatest friends to this day since they knew me at rock bottom, and now they know me during my ascent up the mountain.

If you could have a dinner party with five people [living or dead], who would you choose and why?

Sergio Crisafulli, as I would love to meet my late father – everyone on both sides of my biological family say I'm a lot like him, I read a letter he wrote after I was taken away due to his schizophrenia and I can see where I get my passion and my exercise of the English language from. I joke that I have my dad's IQ and my mother's handwriting.
Genghis Khan, his influence in spreading literacy throughout his empire interests me as he was himself an illiterate peasant that became an Emperor. I'd love to hear firsthand about his code of honour.
Muhammad Ali, he's without a doubt the most technically gifted heavyweight boxer of all time. Add to that his skill as a poet, his kind heart and charming personality he'd make a wonderful guest.
Helen of Troy, I'd like to see if she really was worth going to war over. Plus with all the lost historical accounts of Ancient Greece, she could definitely satisfy my lust for knowledge, amongst other things I'm sure.
Freddie Mercury, he was without a doubt one of the most phenomenal performers of all time. His belonging to a religion I know very little about in Zoroastrianism also interests me. Plus he's ridiculously good looking, so if there was a way to bring him back without AI


  1. You have an interesting take on things. Thank you for sharing. I love hearing from writers about the craft and what inspires them!

  2. Thank you Christina.

    Best wishes,

  3. It was a pleasure to have you here, Ushiku.