I generally don’t read short stories till I got an opportunity to read this… I was left wondering why would anyone have Mother Nature as his enemy? And how did Elias get such an idea.. It’s so out there..
But, when I understood the so called target’s story, I was thunderstruck with the pain a soldier goes through when he loses his mates.
I got to know about the mind of the soldier from the story environmentally friendly, so I ventured into the mind of its creator, Elias Zanbaka
Who is Elias Zanbaka? How will you describe yourself? Tell us something about yourself
Well, I’m from Sydney, Australia and am currently in the midst of obtaining a Bachelor of Computer Science. I’m just someone who loves to tell stories just as much I love devouring them. I’ve always been a big fan of action, adventure and thrillers, which have always been my favourite genres to explore and work within. I love stories that engage, excite and entertain, making you want to revisit them once the initial rush and excitement wears off.
What made you write this faced paced short story? Who or what was your inspiration?
The story came to me in two parts. The first part of the story came to me about a year ago.
I remember thinking about all those who chain themselves to trees to protect their environment and then going back to an old assignment I’d done in high school on the how natural disasters can be brought about by the negligence and destruction we bring to our environments. I then had an image come to me of man doing the complete opposite of all this – cutting trees with a chainsaw, setting fire to them, doing everything in his power to destroy the environment in order to deliberately bring about a natural disaster. I then remember asking myself who would do that? Was he bringing about this natural disaster to destroy the world, or does he have something against Mother Nature? Something personal? Is this natural disaster like an enemy that he’s trying to flush out and bring out into the open in order to confront it? It was here then that an image came to me – one that even I thought was completely insane that I won’t one spoil but happens in the latter half of the story that involves this confrontation with a natural disaster.
After writing this all down, I decided to shelve it until I found a way to make it all possible in the real world as I was sure that it wasn’t fantasy based. It wasn’t until a year or so later where I was introduced to the original “Mission: Impossible” television series, which always had the main characters having to rely on trickery and illusion to defeat their targets, that I’d found a way to do it. That was the second part of the story.
Despite being such a short story, I drew on a wide range of books and films that would probably be too long to list here, whether it helped me with something a small as a certain moment or an image or bit of characterisation/interaction.
How long did it take for you to convert your thoughts to words?
Well, I’d spent about a year thinking about it before I had put anything to paper. By then I’d pretty much had it mapped out in my head and figured out the appropriate structure needed to convey a story that was as effective and immersive as possible. It took about a week to write, and another few weeks to edit in order to get exactly what I was seeing in my mind onto the page. I had originally tried to submit it into a short story competition, but wasn’t able to do so as it went above the required 2000-word limit, so I just decided to put it out there myself.
Why did you self-publish? Has this journey been long and difficult?
At the time I wrote this short story, I wasn’t really thinking in terms of potential publishers.
I had no idea what I had until I’d finished it and put it out there. To me, it was an interesting little story that I thought others might enjoy, so I just decided to share it myself. Having to do everything myself, from working with cover artists, editors, formatters, reviewers, I found to be very enjoyable and more suited to the way I work and approach things. Having that sort of freedom is something that works for me at the moment, but it does come at the cost of having to really market yourself, which can take a lot of time, sometimes even more so than the actual writing, in trying to get your story to reach as wide an audience as possible, and to give as many readers as you can an opportunity to read your work. Even with that, there are plenty of publicists/bloggers who are out there collaborating with indie/self-published authors and helping them promote their work, and that’s something that I’m looking into for my next story. I think trying to write a story is in itself a long and difficult process, and that can be made even more so when trying to publish it yourself because you’re pretty much a one-man army, but I think it’s ultimately rewarding to have that creative control over everything.
Do you want to write other genres or stick to a thriller?
Despite it being one of my favourite genres to work within, I’m very much open to writing stories in other genres. I think it all comes down to which genre or genres the story calls for.
Who are the authors whose works inspire you?
I think it’s a combination of both authors and filmmakers that inspire me with my stories, as I think of them as films on paper rather than actual novels. Some of my favourite authors, who I’m always drawing from are people like Matthew Reilly, Michael Crichton, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, William Peter Blatty, Thomas Harris, Alistair MacLean, and Borden Chase.
How soon can you give us the next book? Have you begun writing? Is it going to be a proper novel or a short story?
The next book, which is the one I’m currently working on, will be a novel length action-thriller. I’d actually started it before “Environmentally Friendly”, and have been working on it for a few years now. As for its release, I’m not really sure as I’m still several drafts into it and trying to make sure everything is both working and coming together as it should.
Do you have an agent now or do you represent yourself?
At the moment, I represent myself, but I definitely wouldn’t rule out looking into getting an agent in the near future.
Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?
Hopefully, I would’ve finished my degree by then and begun working as both a Mathematics teacher and tutor, as well as still trying to tell the most entertaining, exciting and engaging stories as I possibly could.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When it comes to relaxing, I like to read as many books and watch as many films as I can. If I’m not writing, I’m always thinking about it.
Any advice to budding authors who want to self-publish?
I’ve never really considered as myself as someone in a position to give advice, but what I have found to have worked for me so far was to just keep writing, and if I wasn’t physically writing, I was always writing in my head, always trying to improve and be better, whether you’re just starting out or have many books behind you. I’ve also done and am continuously researching everything I can about the publishing process, from writing, to editing, to marketing, to cover design, to cover design. I think knowing as much as you can outside of writing can prove to be very helpful in trying to tackle and manage every single aspect. Also, knowing when to take a step back and be open to ideas from others I’ve find to be very important as well, as it can help you to look at things a certain way that might unlock certain parts of the story that you weren’t able to visualise or figure out before. If it’s helping or enhancing the story, then I take it on board. It’s always about the story, not me. I’m just the one dictating the images and sounds as they come to me.
Any last words at the end of this interview?
Well, I just wanted to thank you for not only taking the time to read my short story but for having me here on your blog as well. I really appreciate it. I also hope that anyone else who gets a chance to read “Environmentally Friendly” enjoys it as well.
Here you go… That was Elias Zanbaka… Quote Unquote..