Stanislaw Kapuscinski (pen name Stan I.S. Law) is an author whose works have notably strayed off the beaten paths in literature, catching the attention of science-fiction and philosophy enthusiasts alike. He doesn’t shy away from tackling the big questions, nor does he have an aversion to taking a strong and concrete stance on issues he feels certain about. What follows is an e-mail interview with the famous author where he shares his story and the many insights he has come to learn on his long journey through the adventurous world of literature.
Q: Different authors write for different reasons. People do it for fun, money, love, hate, meditation, communication… what would you say is your reason for writing? Are you trying to accomplish something personal for yourself? For others? What is it that ultimately pushed you down the writer’s path?
Having retired from architecture I could wait for permanent departure from this reality, or try to share the knowledge I’ve accumulate over the years. I chose the latter. To date, this resulted in almost 40 books. As my subject matter did not fit into any particular genre, I had no choice but to form a company that would publish my works.
Q: Would you say that your career as an architect has had any influence on your work as an author? Did it perhaps instill principles that helped you write accurately and in an organized manner, or maybe even gave you the tools to build more complete and detailed worlds? Are there any unexpected similarities between the two professions?
While there are no direct similarities between architecture and literature, attention to detail is praiseworthy in both. Where architecture did help was in developing an ability to organize a book in a comprehensive manner. The most important part was, in both professions, to visualize the end product long before it was built/written. My joy came from the inspiration rather than from the fulfillment.
Q: Who were your favourite authors when you first began your venture into the world of literature? What or who would you say inspired in you the inextinguishable love for reading and writing?
In my younger days, I was very eclectic. I read all of Agatha Christy and other detective novels, then all the Science Fiction I could find. Only then moved on to H.P. Blavatski, Emmet Fox, Bertrand Russell, and a number of other, including Greek, philosophers. Next I was attracted by philosophy of science (Einstein, Feynman, Tesla). Still searching I escaped to into the mysteries of Bible, Old and New Testaments, the Koran, and ancient Vedas. Had to study, learn, then write a Dictionary of Biblical Symbolism before the Bible made any sense. It was then that I realized that both science and religion, when pushed into fundamentalism, miss the whole point. Science dealt almost exclusively with the past, the Bible had nothing to do with religion. I began looking for expressing my point of view, both, in fiction and in fact.
Q: Your books are quite different than most of the other literature one would find in a bookstore, in the sense that they often probe deep into the human condition, many of them resembling thinking pieces more than stories. To what would you attribute your affinity for writing such books? Was there some specific event, or perhaps it’s just a symptom of who you are as a person?
Probably the latter. I never accepted the idea that body creates mind, rather than mind—body. The rest just went deeper. And I never wrote for money. (I never worked for money, I always considered work a great pleasure, if not a privge.)
Q: You’ve published numerous non-fiction books under your real name, Stanislaw Kapuscinski, and many other works of fiction under the pseudonym Stan I.S. Law. Why exactly did you choose to have a pen name for some books and not others, especially when everyone knows whom it belongs to? Is there a deeper purpose to it other than separating fiction from non-fiction? How did the idea make its way into your mind?
Originally I intended to write only fiction, and anonymity was important to me. As all my books seem to have been born in daily contemplation (silent listening), I wanted my books to be famous, not me. I could hardly take credit for them. Later, when writing non-fiction, I owed it to my readers to admit to their authorship and, if need be, accept credit or blame.
Q: What were your first reactions to seeing the readers’ appraisal of the works you wrote anonymously under the pseudonym? Is it something that you would recommend for other authors, and why?
Frankly, I was amazed. I received many accolades that were completely unexpected. I begun peeking again into some of my books, and often couldn’t quite believe that I wrote them. After all, English, for me, is a foreign language! Luckily, I still agreed with the philosophy expressed therein.
Q: Talking about the non-fiction books you’ve written, many have quite ambitious titles (Key to Immortality and Beyond Religion Volumes 1-3 for instance) with the content to match. Where exactly do conjure your ideas and meditations that make it into those works? Does it all come from the workings of your own mind? If you do any external research, how do you go about it?
Everything in one’s life leaves a mark on our psyche. I was incredibly lucky to have had most fantastic parents who gave me an unparallel example how to live. The “Gate” gives some slight idea of their characters. As for the “serious stuff”, it in no way differs from my fiction. I am what I am, and my books are an expression of my nature. After all my motto is “If you suspect you are more than flesh and bones, read Stan Law. If you want to be sure, read Stanislaw Kapuscinski.”
Q: Throughout these books there is a certain persistence when it comes to religious themes; is there any reason for that apart from the fact that religion plays an important role in many peoples’ lives on a daily basis? Do you have a special relation with the concept of religion or strong personal insights you would like to share? Is it something that has always fascinated you, and if so why?
Yes, I was always fascinated by religions. After all, billions of people are led by a few people, the rabbis, imams, priests, preacher, and suchlike, rather then listening to their own conscience. By the time I was abt. 14 I found it unacceptable. I learned some yoga, sat still, and tried to hear the voice within me. After a few years I began to see the light. As the late Sai Baba said, “I sit in the light, the light is me, I am the light.” This is, of course, true of everyone, but it takes an effort to discover it.
When young, I have been very religious. By middle teens I discovered two things. One, people did not practice what they preached, this applied to Judeo/Christian religions in equal measure, and two, that religion was used to control the mind of people. I discovered that faith often brings people together, while religion sets them apart. Pity, I thought. Around 2012 I thought I’d written “all I had to say”, when my wife convinced me to make notes on our daily chats, which also explained the reasons for writing my books. This resulted in a series of “Vicious Circle” books, collection of my blogs, which are now being published. I have no idea if they will be of interest to anyone. I thought that, perhaps, I owe them to my readers.
Q: The idea that there is something to the human existence that cannot be observed, measured or quantified, such as the human soul, is perhaps as old as we are. However, in recent years scientific progress has created more and more doubters in this concept, but you’re not one of them. As a philosopher, what led you to take up the stance that we (to use the words in your online biography) “are more than flesh and bone”?
Great philosophers are as rare among scientists and among any other group of people. The greatest among them affirmed and convinced me that immortality is as inevitable as life itself. According to Einstein, (Tesla, Feynman), all is energy. I include in the ‘all’ life, thoughts, love, and particularly consciousness. All is ALL. The rest just follows through. My recent blogs go deeper into this subject.
Q: Who are the great thinkers that have inspired you over the years and pushed you towards the conclusions you’ve eventually drawn? If you could have a face-to-face with any one of them, who would it be? Whose works would you recommend to people who see themselves as walking on a road towards understanding humanity and the self?
First, we must learn to listen to our own Self. 10-15 minutes a day, just listening. Then our particular ‘gurus’ appear out of nowhere. Men who influence me are all mentioned above. There are a thousand others and don’t forget my parents. You can learn something from, literally, everyone.
Q: What would you say is the primary difference between writing fiction and non-fiction, in terms of the challenges that you have to face as an author? Naturally, one deals in imagination while the other remains in facts, but apart from that are there other nuances and dimensions to consider?
It is amazing how many ‘facts’ are subjective, scientific theories transient, religious dogmas based on personal needs. Imagination is a fact, and the world is more fascinating than we are capable of imagining. We are still in kindergarten. A few years ago no one would have accepted that all is energy.
Q: The books which you’ve written under the pen name, Stan I.S. Law, have largely consisted of fantasy and science-fiction exploring the human condition, peppered with a healthy dose of ridiculousness. What is it that drove you to start writing fictional novels that contrast with your serious works of non-fiction? Did anything in particular shove you down that path, such as an event or a desire, or is it something that happened before you even realized it?
I began with short stories. Novels grew out of them.
I wrote fiction first, based on my conceptualization of reality, which was based as much on science as on ancient myths, which, to the people of the past must have been as factual as the present ‘scientific’ facts are to us.
Later I tried to state this very fact in a non fictional way. I am not sure which my readers found more convincing.
Q: Which of your own works would you say is your favourite? Can you talk a bit about the process of writing and publishing it, if there is anything memorable that sticks out?
Yes. Don’t write if you need to make money. Make money in stock exchange, that’s what it’s there for. If you don’t want professional editors to destroy your individuality, then publish yourself. By all means, have some editors, providing you have the final word. My writing does not fit into any genre, hence I had to publish myself. Also I don’t have to write about murder, explicit sex and suchlike to sell. To write what you want, you must have a degree of financial independence (stock exchange, remember?), and writing must be more fun than anything else. Perhaps that’s why only started writing when I was too old to do downhill skiing.
Q: Is there perhaps a book or novel you regret or don’t particularly like? If there is, what would you change about it? If not, what’s your secret to avoid writing stories you don’t come to dislike later, the curse of many authors?
No. If there were, I’d simply destroy it.
Q: Many aspiring authors look to professionals such as yourself for advice on how they ought to begin their careers. Is there anything special that you’ve learned over the years that you might recommend to them? Perhaps some career trick that’s been helping you out, a method or even a mindset a person could use to find their way in the realms of literature?
Yes. Don’t start writing until you have something to say. And when you do start, make sure it is something you’d rather do than anything else. It might take years before you get ‘discovered’.
Q: Have you ever considered exploring some new genres that are completely off the beaten path for you? Is there any type of story you’ve been itching to write but haven’t had the occasion to yet? Is it a course of action you would recommend to writers in general, to get out of their comfort zone and try out genres they haven’t considered?
Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto. No. On the other hand, I’ve been told that all my writing is “off the beaten path”. Perhaps, so ma I? I like it that way. I am never bored. Always learning.
Q: Where would you say your future works will take you? Do you have any new books or trilogies we should be keeping an eye out for, whether written by Stanislaw or Stan I.S. Law? Any philosophical realms you’ve been omitting to visit?
I live in the present. Each book I write is a surprise to me. Fiction and non-fiction. My blogs are my present fun. And I write some poems. Already got a dozen of them. Maybe more. A few dozen? Must publish them sometime. I will, I suspect, write, one day, if I live long enough, a ‘sequel’ to DELUSIONS. Perhaps it will be called: CONCLUSIONS, but I hate being dogmatic. We shall see.