Here are a few questions that Voicu has answered about himself (author has supplied the questions, as well)
Hi! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself? J
I was born in 1978 in Arad, a small city in western Transylvania, Romania, in Eastern Europe. My father is a journalist and an author with tens of books of non-fiction and poetry published under his name. In 2002, I moved to Thailand to work as a secondary school teacher and continue my graduate studies. Now I live with my Thai wife in Bangkok where I teach Language Arts and Social Studies at an international school.
Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?
I would like to quote what Morpheus told Neo in The Matrix, “Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, that there’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.” Regardless of your dreams and ambitions, just wanting to do something is not enough. Getting down to doing it and facing the challenges life puts in your path is a journey we all have to take in order to become successful.
Can you tell us, in your own words not the book description, a little about your book?
The book that I’m virtually touring now is an intertextual study of the film The Matrix and the books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll. The initial research for the book was done as part of my two-year master’s degree studies in Bangkok. I have probably seen The Matrix trilogy over one hundred times and having the book in my hands has brought my longtime obsession with The Matrix and the Alice Books to a satisfactory conclusion. Now it’s time for the world to read it and dive down the rabbit hole and explore a world where the boundary between dreams and reality is blurred by some of the most remarkable and memorable fictional characters ever to appear on the pages of a book and on the screen of a TV.
If you are self-published, why did you decide to take this route of publishing?
My very first book, The Spirit of Medieval Japan, appeared under the publishing wing of an NGO, while dozens of my non-fiction articles and short stories were published in various academic journals and anthologies. Apart from public exposure, there was no monetary benefit. Among the books I have chosen to self-publish, The Matrix and the Alice Books has been the most successful financially. As a writer, to be paid for your writing is a huge reward. Now that one can read an e-book on an increasing score of gadgets, I think self-publishing is a positive way for writers to make their work available to a very large section of the public. And if the writer did their job properly, then they might even see a return on their investment.
Is there an author or book that influenced you or your writing in any way growing up or as an adult?
The world Lewis Carroll created in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass had a great impact on me and, as a child, I often found myself slipping down my own rabbit hole under a pillow-made castle, joining Alice in her wonderful adventures. Jules Verne’s adventure novels, especially Around the World in 80 Days, instilled in me a strong desire to see the world and Verne’s great explorers, men of arms and scientists, soon became my heroes in whose footsteps I hoped to follow. Now, in my mid-30s, after having published a postgraduate study about the Alice books and having made a new life for myself in Asia, miles away from my home country in Eastern Europe, I do believe that the books I grew up with have made me the man I am today.
Are you reading anything interesting at the moment? If so, what is it?
I’ve recently bought The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, a novel set in 18th century Japan. I had discovered this British author via Cloud Atlas, a 2012 science fiction film directed and produced by Lana and Andy Wachowski, an adaptation of Mitchell’s 2004 novel of the same title. As a fan of The Matrix, I follow closely the Wachowskis and have always found their choice of topics to suit my taste too. This also proved to be true in the case of David Mitchell’s works.
My favourite colour is blue, the kind of dark blue you get in the “real world” of The Matrix where the characters are unplugged. I am also attracted by the shade of green distinctive to a monochrome monitor, something I can relate to as I am old enough to remember what the first IBM computers looked like. Green is a colour that has great significance in The Matrix as it symbolizes the world of the machines. The Matrix digital rain, with its falling green code representing the virtual reality of the Matrix, is also on the background of the cover of my intertextual study The Matrix and the Alice Books.
Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to share with us?
For this academic school year (2013/2014), I have been invited to a few international schools in Bangkok to speak to their students about The Ironman. A Play, a book for children I wrote and published in 2009.
Can we expect more novels from you in 2013-2014?
For 2013, I’m planning to release the following titles: Riding the Cylinder, three science fiction short stories set in Thailand; Taking the Seas, a book of adventure stories for the young ones; Angelee, a collection of short stories and, of course, my pièce de résistance would clearly be The Buddha Head, a suspense thriller set in Ayutthaya in Thailand.
At the same time, I am at various stages of completion with three other books of non-fiction which have the working titles of Thailand from A to Z: Sports, Activities, and Martial Arts; 10 Destinations In & Out of Bangkok, and Archery from A to Z. Also, I have started work on The Ancient Sword, the second novel in “The Ayutthaya Trilogy,” which started with The Buddha Head.
What do you do when you are not writing?
In recent years, my life has been a struggle to manage my time in such a way that I allocate enough time for my writing, but also my two other passions, archery and aikido. As these are more than just two ways to relax, I do them regularly even on the occasions when I feel tired from a day teaching at work or typing away on my laptop.
To relax in the real sense of the word, I sort and catalogue my collection of coins, banknotes, postcards, and pins which I have amassed during my travels in Asia.
The Matrix and the Alice Books
by Voicu Mihnea Simandan
The Matrix and the Alice Books presents aspects of intertextuality in three primary sources: the script of the motion picture The Matrix written by directors Andy and Larry Wachowski, and the books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.
Intertextuality is a set of relations with other texts, which can include direct quotations, allusions, literary conventions, imitation, parody and unconscious sources amongst others. In The Matrix there are few explicit references to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.
This book by Voicu Mihnea Simandan presents both the explicit references and the less direct ones, giving evidence from primary and secondary sources. In doing so, it makes use of a literary construction developed from Gérard Genette’s structuralist theory of transtextuality as a framework to present how a web of intertextual relationships is clearly formed between the Alice books and The Matrix.
“In The Matrix, Neo comes from the Oracle a bit disappointed with what he had just found out, but Morpheus tries to show him the way: “Neo, sooner or later, you’re going to realize, just as I did, that there’s a difference between knowing the path... and walking the path...” Alice wakes up only when she is ready to face the real world, just as Neo has to understand that, in order to defeat the agents and end the war, he has to face his demons and take control of his own life. […]
In The Matrix, Cypher confesses his regrets to Neo over getting unplugged. “You know, I know what you’re thinking, because right now I’m thinking the same thing. Actually, I’ve been thinking it ever since I got here... Why, oh why, didn’t I take... the blue pill?” The repeated phrase shows hesitation and the intensity of Cypher’s emotions. Neither Alice nor Cypher understand the new world they have entered, and both have second thoughts about remaining there. But, while Alice tries to unlock the secret of wonderland and eventually is able to control it, just as Neo does in the end, Cypher betrays his crew members in a desperate move to be reinserted into the Matrix.
Despite an ever-changing environment and logic, both Alice and Neo continue to deal with the challenges that beset them. No prior experience in wonderland or the Matrix can teach them about what to expect in their next undertaking; nevertheless they manage to get through each encounter, ready to face new situations.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Voicu Mihnea Simandan is a Romanian writer and freelance journalist who was born in 1978 in Arad, a small city in Transylvania. He has published short stories, non-fiction, and books for children. He has been calling Thailand home since 2002 and he has been a member of the Bangkok Writers' Guild since 2009 and a member of AP Writers since 2012. He is now teaching Language Arts and Social Studies at an international school in Bangkok. His upcoming debut novel, The Buddha Head, a suspense thriller set in Thailand, is scheduled for publication in late 2013. He loves archery, martial arts and travelling.
Kindle US: http://www.amazon.com/Matrix-Alice-Books-ebook/dp/B00C696N9U/
Kindle UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Matrix-Alice-Books-ebook/dp/B00C696N9U/