Nicolas Forzy is French, grew up in London and now lives in Dubai with his wife and son. He started his career in investment banking at JPMorgan in 1995 before training as an officer in the French army, where he did his military service on a combat helicopter base. He then ventured into the exciting world of film and TV, writing, producing and directing his first feature film “Ambition” in 2005.
Based in the UAE since 2007, Forzy is now the Head of Creative Development at content agency e-Motion. Many of his scripts have been commissioned, optioned or produced. His debut novel “AlphaNumeric” is being published this year by Lodestone Books for release in the United States, the United Kingdom and online. His passion remains writing, either for the page or the screen, a passion he loves to share in workshops and seminars. Forzy is a graduate of the London School of Economics.
Forzy will take part in the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which will be held in Dubai from March 4 to 8.
To become a writer, one needs to read a lot. Do you agree?
As I writer, I believe it’s important to know what other writers produce. It can be both a source of inspiration (for style, syntax or vocabulary) and part of market research (what people are reading). I think you need to know who you’re writing for, what the expectations are and who you’re competing with. It doesn’t mean you should tailor everything to your target market, only that with this information, you can write in a way that will make your story resonate more poignantly with your readers.
The great impressionist painters of the 19th century were always showing each other their work, as much for competition as for inspiration. I believe writers should do the same.
Do you think books can change or influence societies?
In a world where digital apps are changing our lives, I see books as the physical equivalent: an analogue app — simple, accessible to all and able to change someone’s mind about the subject it tackles. This is the greatest impact you can have. Since you change societies one person at a time, spreading the right book to the right people can have profound effects on society as a whole. Books that become phenomenons do so because they affect their readers. Those readers will have been moved by the story in the book, they will change as a consequence and the world they live in will be different. We’ve looked at school in a wholly different way since Harry Potter went to Hogwarts. We’ve questioned our career choices more deeply since Katniss Everdeen stepped into the “Hunger Games”. British lore found itself after an entire generation read “The Lord of The Rings”. Books can change perceptions, opinions, even motivations. Books can definitely have an important impact on societies.
When and where do you like to read?
I grab every chance I find to read, whether it’s a book, an article or a graphic novel. Ideally, I like to read in public places where energies mix and mingle, like train stations, coffee shops and restaurants. But when a book really grips me, I can be so focused on it that I won’t stop reading it even when driving home: I’ll read a half-page at a time or so at traffic lights, grabbing it from the passenger seat just to find out what’s coming next! Whatever it takes ...
Who is your perfect reader?
My perfect reader is someone who will be blunt with the truth. More generally, I look for a group of very different readers so that I can have many perspectives on my work and look for the overlaps between their opinions. These overlaps are most likely the areas that I need to address first with a rewrite. My perfect reader may therefore be a group of widely different readers.
Do you hang on to books or pass them around when you are done reading?
I make every effort to keep books that I read, mainly because I like to read them again months or years later. I tend to enjoy them more the second time round. However, I also like to lend books to friends in order to share a wonderful story or a particularly meaningful nonfiction book. Overall, I like to see my shelves packed with books, so the more I can stack there and read (then re-read), the better!
If you could recommend one book, which one would it be?
AlphaNumeric is my first published novel, where the world of numbers and the land of letters go to war, so I would of course recommend it to everyone! More to the point, Rod Rees’s “Demi-Monde” series took me completely by surprise, particularly the first novel “Winter”. Rees builds an incredibly detailed yet never cumbersome world, inspired by our history but skewed with just the right dose of “The Matrix” and a steampunk twist. It’s a mesmerising read from a spectacularly gifted author.
What do you think of literature festivals?
While we read in many forms throughout our daily life, from e-mails to text messages, newspapers to novels, we rarely stop to celebrate the pleasure of reading and its countless benefits. Festivals provide that celebration of the written word, they remind us that reading and writing is important, that people are moved by words and that everyone has a story to share. Festivals are the best place for readers to meet and discover new authors, new voices and new books. Most importantly, I think festivals are wonderful platforms for emerging talent to gain exposure. Festival prizes put authors on the industry radar, while debates and panel discussions allow important topics to be discussed by leading professionals in a public setting. Festivals are all about connecting people, which can only help more books to be written, published and read.
What are you expecting from Dubai litfest?
The Festival was crowned “Best Festival” at the Middle East Events Awards last year, so I’m certain the event will be an overwhelming success. I’m giving a sold-out workshop and speaking at the award ceremony of the Montegrappa First Fiction prize. I really look forward to meeting other authors from the region and the world, talking to book distributors, agents and publishers. I’m certain it will be a delightful experience, meeting other avid readers to compare tastes and share stories.
Do you have any literary role models?
In terms of style, James Rollins writes like I wish I could. Andy McDermott is also a major influence, in a more tongue-in-cheek tone. Neal Stephenson, Philip K. Dick, Cory Doctorow and Isaac Asimov create sci-fi worlds that no one can match. James Patterson has a very smart writing model that I hope to emulate one day. Finally, Michael Crichton’s multifaceted career is one that inspires me to tackle multiple genres and to embrace the fear that comes with doing that.