Last week I profiled author and psychiatrist Alexandre A. Loch and his novel Laplatia, Or, The City That Could Not Dream. Here he is today to answer a few questions about himself and his writing:
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi all! I’m a psychiatrist with a background in philosophy. I like reading, studying and trying to understand how people and our society work. In 2013 I completed my PhD by studying the stigma of mental illnesses, and I decided I had to write novels. I think fiction is a different means to achieve the truth than scientific writing. By creating fiction you can reach the truth in an artistic and unconscious manner, and then share this truth with your reader.
2. When did you start writing, and why?
I started writing in 2013, after my PhD. I was kind of satisfied with my academic achievements, and I decided I had to do something different. Something to do with the arts. I had lots of things I needed to tell the world, things I could not write in scientific papers. And so my books came out.
3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write fiction with psychological themes. I like to create characters similar to real persons. I put many of the conflicts I see in people, my patients, and myself in my characters, and I feel they need to share these feelings with the readers. In my view when you read a book it needs to provide you a take home message. Or at least cause the reader to reflect on the world he is living in. That’s why I write, to urge people to think.
4. What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Surely the greatest joy of writing is to receive feedback from my readers. I love to discuss my books with them. And it satisfies me more when I see that a person really loved the reading, and that my book changed his life in some way.
5. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My latest book is “Laplatia – or, The City That Could Not Dream”. I have some forthcoming projects but they are still very incipient. I need to shape them to have a better idea of what they will turn out to be in the future.
6. “Welcome To My Worlds”: Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
Laplatia is a city in the near future where natural resources for the generation of electricity have exhausted. In this society mankind invented machines to capture electricity from dreams and imagination’s brain waves to turn it into society’s electrical power. So, no one can freely imagine or dream anymore. How would it be to live in a world like that? Laplatia resembles our society, where our thoughts are shaped by the mass media culture. We are all sort of Laplatians in some way. And so I reproduce common current existential anguishes people show in our society in the book. It has something of darkness, of desperation, and of self-questioning. It’s an unforgettable journey into our own thoughts to read Laplatia.
There is Aaron, who works in one of the facilities that extracts electricity from human brains to turn it into societal electrical power. Though he is married, he is a lonely person, who finds himself trapped in his daily routine. There is his wife Daphne, who thought he was the love of her life but got deeply disappointed after years of marriage. Argos is one of the extractor facility’s leaders. He is a bit arrogant, and very stupid with his wife Ophelia. She, in turn, caught him cheating on her in the beginning of the marriage but still decided to stay with him. She is a very disturbed person who cuts herself to diminish her anguish. There is also a doctor, a drug addict, and so on. Wow, got a little bit excited here but never mind, there are no spoilers, lol.8. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
I spent nearly a month trying to write chapter 6! This chapter is one that explains the world of Laplatia. I thought it was filled with too much reflection, that it would bore readers with philosophical writing and reflections, and it nearly made me stop writing the book. Turned out that my beta-readers found that this specific chapter was one of the best chapters of the book! They commented that current writers usually do not explain their fictional world in details, and that in general disappoints readers. That’s an example of how different a writer and a reader can judge a same chapter…
9. Is there a message in your book? Do you want your readers to take something home?
Yes. There are several critiques on the homogenization of our culture. We know how films end, there are sort of “recipes” for writing books and making movies and TV shows. The new is rare. Though much has been debated about canned culture and its consequences, like dehumanization and the distant and impersonal character of human relationships in general, we keep doing things the same. Laplatia aims to provoke those questions in the reader’s mind.
How would it be to live in a city where no one was allowed to use his imagination freely? Where dreams and fantasy had to be used for socioeconomic purposes? Laplatia is a dystopian city in the near future where natural resources for the production of electrical power on Earth have been depleted. With increasing chaos due to this shortage, civilization invented the Extractors, machines capable of extracting human imagination and turning it into Fos, electricity’s raw material. Consequently, citizens were prohibited to “spend useless thoughts,” such as those provided by imagination, dreams, and fantasy, unless they were destined to the Extractors. In this city, we follow the story of seven characters, their anguishes, their relationships, and their solitude. Laplatia is an erratic story that emotionally moves the reader and urges him to reflect about himself and the society. After all, who said one’s thought is free?Laplatia is available at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords |
Alexandre A. Loch is a psychiatrist who graduated from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, obtaining a PhD degree by studying the stigma of mental illnesses. He also holds a bachelor degree in philosophy, and in 2013, he started his career as a writer. Besides writing, he currently acts as a researcher, having authored many scientific articles published in international journals, and being the associate editor of Frontiers in Public Mental Health.Alexandre always liked to read. Early in his childhood, he read several best-sellers and classics of international literature. His favorite authors are Hemmingway, Dostoievski, Lee Harper, Virginia Woolf, Jose Saramago, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Alexandre also appreciates contemporary literature in Portuguese and in English.
His first released book, Bile Negra (Black Bile), is an introspective psychological fiction about Iago and his soul’s journey through a big city. The book was well received by the Brazilian critic. In 2016, he will release Laplatia (The City that Could Not Dream), in the United States, by Black Rose Writing.
With a shrill style, the aim of the author is to make people reflect upon the ideas presented in his books. His concept of art, which encompasses the art of writing, includes the idea that books should change people.
“I like to make people think with my fictions. A book should provoke catharsis; induce the reader to reflect about himself, his life, and the society he is living in. For that, I usually use a sharp style that touches directly the reader’s soul.”