Humbert’s Carbonara: An Interview with Yuki Iwama

If you’ve taken the time to read Yuki Iwama’s delightfully surreal 2N5E from last week’s short list, you’re no doubt wanting to know a little more about the soul behind such a vision. I caught up with Yuki over messenger before she left for a writers retreat, and we had a good chat about all things art.

Hi Yuki, thanks for chatting. I suppose the best place to start is 2N5E. We don’t get that many surreal or speculative stories at NiTH

Ahh right. it’s not really familiar territory for me either.

Is Surreal a fair assessment?

Yeah I’d definitely say it was.

What was the inspiration or intention with 2N5E?

Well lately I’ve been obsessed with god as a concept and as a political statement. Ever since getting into intersectional feminism I’ve been exploring and researching power and our relationship with power. I guess that’s where the theme comes in. As for the inspiration… perhaps the theatre of the absurd has a hand in it. As well as the many hours spent watching Lynch films like a dorky fanboy.

Do you think authors should make time to talk about writing like that, or are you more of a mind to just let the reader read?

Well I know personally whenever I read something I like, I always dig into the context of it and the author’s intentions. It’s always good to get your own interpretation of the piece as well as the author’s intended message. You know, so you don’t get a bunch of people going around saying oh yeah, Lolita is totally sexy and i love jerking off to it kinda deal.

That awkward tweet where you misread Lolita.

Exactly. Though I wouldn’t be surprised. It is kind of a sexy book, but see what i mean about lost intentions?

Well now we are getting deeper into that territory of the author as a subject of the reader. When you read do you think about the author at all? Because I can’t help it a lot of the time.

Yeah that’s a good question. i do the same thing. whether consciously or not, i think we tend to read the author into the text. Like when I read a novel, I place the author as the main character. This is through their eyes, this is their experience – even if it’s about mice or dragons or whatever. That’s why I think that writing and having people read your work, even in fiction, is such a personal experience. and also why i think authors are hesitant to touch controversial/taboo topics because they think it might reflect on them – which it does a lot of the time.

Ok let’s change course. Looking at your portfolio and the wide range of projects that seem to consume your time. Do you think that you wouldn’t broadly define yourself as artist? Or is there a particular passion like writing or directing that comes first.

Uh. first of all, I fucking hate that word. Who calls themselves artist these days? I dunno. but I understand what you’re getting at. I think at the core of all my projects, writing is the thing that pulls it all together. and I am a bit of a control freak. sometimes with the themes and topics I want to touch, I kind of have to be. So I guess yeah, writing and directing is my gig. Maybe one day, after I’ve actually created something worthwhile I might be comfortable with the label ‘artist’. But we’ll see. it might be an impossibility, especially in the 21st Century.

Do you think artist is a conceited term in this day and age? Or maybe over-saturated or just simply inappropriate?

I guess the term is stigmatised for me since I’ve met many people who wear the artist badge quite proudly – even when they don’t quite deserve it. But of course on the other hand, I do consider some people artists. i just think to be an artist, you should be a creator of content – but not just any content. it has to be original. and, as you know, originality is quite difficult to come across. if there even is such a thing these days. sorry don’t want to sound like an elitist or anything. i’m not very articulate when I just wake up.

That’s fine. I think it’s a tough thing to rationalise because there is sometimes irrationality in art. But also I’m not one to fall for the ‘We stand on the shoulders of giants’ fear. There might be more art in the world, and we might have more access to it, but that doesn’t dilute the individual worth. A carrot is still a carrot whether you have 10 or 100 of them… Now I think I’m being inarticulate.

I think I understand what you’re getting at. i do appreciate the stuff that’s being produced and churned out in the art world. I mean, i lap up that shit, i love it. can’t get enough of it. I guess I’ve become a bit jaded though, after being around so many ‘artists’ who have absolutely nothing new to offer or say. The same goes for me too of course.

Is there someone you think has something to offer, modern or historic?

I think a lot of people have something to offer. I can’t, at the top of my head think of a name. but in general, this generation of writers and artists suffer from the same plight as i do – trying to create something new in postmodern society. I mean, writers and artists a few decades ago were just toeing the waters – social changes and an extensive list of taboo topics for the reap. But now, it seems like anything that needs to be said has been said. or if it hasn’t, it’s because the fallout from saying those things is much more dangerous than it was back then since we have social media and interconnectivity and all that techy goodness.

but i think because we have this struggle, we are pushed further than any other generation of writers and artists. that’s how we come up with amazing content when we DO find that piece, or idea,…you know – the ONE. I’ve seen some incredible shows and read some mind blowing writing by my own peers and that gives me hope.

So maybe the key is to just keep producing and hope the needle finds its thread.

Definitely.

While we are on the topic, have you had a chance to read any stories on NiTH, and have their been any you liked?i

Yeah I have actually! I read many stories. but the one that stood out was Batteries by Sarah Henry. I tend to favour the dark and the absurd as a reader and writer. to be able to write sentences like “My neighbour’s skin is melting” or talking about needing new batteries for your arm….These little gems give me so much joy as a writer. Perhaps Sarah knows what I’m talking about. certain sentences than stick to the reader long after reading them. phrases that you probably won’t find anywhere else. I also love the way she writes about violence in such a platonic, off-handed way.

Ahh excellent. I liked Batteries as well. I thought it had a great sense of time and place which is hard to do without sacrificing plot in a sub-1000 word story. Ok one more thing. You like Italian food. What’s your favourite dish(es)?

Probably bruschetta. or Carbonara! And bad wine. there has to be bad wine

My Nonno (Grandfather) is the master of bad wine

Love it!!!!! it’s amazing. lots of wine, lots of pasta, i swear i was meant to be born italian

Well maybe that could be the theme of your next story. Thanks for chatting Yuki

Thanks!

One thought on “Humbert’s Carbonara: An Interview with Yuki Iwama

  1. Thanks Yuki! I loved reading 2N5E – the world totally engrossed me. For all its nightmarish quality I wanted to be there (but not really) – you know what I mean. Plus that Stephen Crane poem is one of my favorites. Nice work.

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