Mohamed 2.0: Disruption Manifesto that comes out in this month, April 19th!
Niina : Welcome to For The Love of Reading, Mr. Cord, I’m glad you came by.
David J. Cord : Thanks for having me. What’s with the "Mr. Cord"? Are we role-playing? Am I the horny, brooding writer and you the horny, hot junior reporter at a major metropolitan newspaper?
Niina : LOL! Behave! Let’s get started! Can you tell my readers here 4 fun unknown facts about you so we can break the ice? ( though with that asnwer, not much left to be broken! )
David : Let’s see. 1) I don’t like to read most romance books. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that. I do like the effect they have on my wife, though, but that is a different story. 2) As a child, I was terrified of Bigfoot. Still am, in fact. 3) I always read the first and last words of a book to see if they make sense together. ( This works in my book, by the way, but I didn’t plan it. ) 4) The first story I ever wrote, when I was about seven, was a rip-off of the Hobbit. I had Bengals that lived in trees, instead of Hobbits that lived in holes.
Niina : Luckily no bigfoots in Finland. ;) Tell us little about your book Mohamed 2.0 Disruption Manifesto, what’s it about?
David : Mohamed El-Fatatry moved to Finland to study and ended up creating Muxlim, an online social network for Muslims. His plan was to better the world by using it as a channel for dialogue between Muslims and the West. Mohamed became one of the most famous immigrants in Finland – being featured on the likes of the BBC and meeting the President – but his company ended up collapsing. The book details his story, the story of Muxlim, and explores issues like racism, immigration, entrepreneurship, and the digital revolution.
Niina : Tell us something about your book that we wouldn’t know just by reading the blurb?
David : I didn’t want to write a 60,000 word press release. The façade of the Mohamed and Muxlim story are very well known in Finland, but the truth isn’t.
Niina : Ah! Nice teaser! What type of research do you have to do to get a book like this done properly?
David : I interviewed Mohamed for hundreds of hours, but I also talked to his investors, his employees, his friends and even academics who were experts in different fields that were relevant to the story: immigration specialists, politicians, racism experts, and historians, for example. I also spent a lot of time online, seeing how Muxlim worked and reading hundreds of articles that had been published about Mohamed and Muxlim.
Niina : What chapter did you most enjoyed writing and why?
David : Probably the last chapter. It is a summation of what happened to Muxlim, from the point of view of Mohamed and his rather-annoyed investors, but also my own opinions. I use some vivid symbolism and imagery throughout the book, but especially in the last chapter. My editorial director at the publisher told me: “This isn’t journalism. This is literature.” I was very happy when he said that, because that was exactly what I wanted.
Niina : Any big projects for 2012?
David : Yes, but I can’t talk about it yet. It is rather sensitive, and there are non-disclosure agreements involved. Sorry, it isn’t romance.
Niina : Dang it! Now to more personal questions! How did you find your cover and if you didn't take part in the making, what is your opinion of it?
David : The cover was done by Anders Carpelan. I wasn’t involved with it, but evidently it was quite difficult, because Mohamed wasn’t happy. The publisher eventually had to make a decision and put a stop to the process. I’m very happy with it. I think Anders did a great job.
Niina : What makes you feel like you are reading or have read a truly amazing book?
David : The way it rips you out of your comfort zone and moves your emotions. I remember the first time I read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. I was about ten pages in and came to the realisation that I was reading something special, something unique, something that wasn’t churned out by some hack. ( Although Vonnegut did his share of hacking and churning back in the day. ) This was not entertainment, although it was entertaining; it was a piece of art that made the heart thump and soul expand, like standing in front of the Mona Lisa. I stopped, went back to the beginning, and started reading again. I wanted to prolong and re-experience that feeling of amazement and wonder.
Niina : If you could only read 5 novels for the rest of your life what would they be, and why?
David : 1) Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, because it is darkly beautiful and subversive. 2) Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, because it is so simple and elegant, like a minaret or a Gothic spire. 3) The Hobbit, by Tolkien, because it started the fire that is my love of literature. 4) Karl Knausgård’s My Struggle, because it is the most intimate work I’ve ever read. My editor said that I needed to open myself up more, and Knausgård lets it all hang out. He’s a good example for me. 5) Finally, I would pick John Updike’s Rabbit series. It defines the “Great American Novel.” Anything that aims for that title, like with Jonathan Franzen nowadays, are measured against Updike.
Niina : What’s the best and the worst advice for writers you have received?
David : The best advice came from my editorial director, who said to put more of myself into my writing. The worst advice was to do exactly the opposite.
Niina : Heh, there's advice for you. ;) What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
David : This book is non-fiction, so I couldn’t work on plot development or characterization, for example, because that was already there. So I had to do other things to distinguish it, like subtly saying that the hype over Mohamed manifested itself in the writing of the book. The author, and the writing of the book, were inserted into the story. It was almost like meta-nonfiction. The proofreaders and editors were very taken by this.
Niina : What’s the number one thing you like to do when you are not writing?
David : Reading. Or getting laid.
Niina : Naughty! ;) Were in public, honey, lol! What is your signature dish?
David : Bread.
Niina : Before we finish, here are some Quick Fire Questions:
Night or day? Day
Pick-up or Mini-van? Pick-up
Boots or Sneakers? Sneakers. Got to be comfortable.
Beer or Whiskey? Beer
Cocktails or Shots? Shots
M&Ms: With or Without Peanuts? With
Treats: Sweet or Salty? Salty, most of the time.
Date: Going to Park or Going to Movies? Park. Hollywood movies only use a very small number of standard plots and continually use all the same tricks. It really frustrates me, because it wastes my time.
Jewels or Chocolates? Chocolate.
Women: Talkative or wallflowers? Talkative. I’m quiet myself, so they need to carry the conversation.
Women: Curvy or Slim? Slim.
Tattoos or Piercings on a woman? Sure. Oh wait, I’m supposed to pick. Piercings.
Brunettes or Blonds? Blonds. Did I mention summer in Scandinavia was the best place on Earth? There are several reasons for this, one of which are those Nordic blonds who think bikini tops are optional. It takes a lot of effort to pretend to be nonchalant and un-noticing, but believe me, Nordic ladies, we notice.
Time-Travel or Sci-fi? I thought time travel was science fiction? I suppose sci-fi.
Romance or Erotic Romance? Erotic. No need to pussyfoot around. Get to the good stuff.
Male POV or Female POV (Point Of View)? Male POV. I find it difficult to get interested in the female point of view, except with some really talented writers, like Jennifer Egan. She is fucking brilliant. I was in continual astonishment as I read A Visit From the Goon Squad.
Times New Roman or Courier? Times New Roman.
Niina : Slim blonds huh, and you married a curvy brunette. ;) LOL! Thanks for visiting the For The Love of Reading, David! Any news would you like to share with your readers, or websites they can check out?
David : Mohamed 2.0: Disruption Manifesto is released in English on 19 April. Swedish will follow by summer, and probably Finnish before the end of the year. You can check it out at www.disruptionmanifesto.com.
Mohamed 2.0: Disruption Manifesto
What do Muslims do online? Plot suicide bombings and complain about women who demand the right to vote? Mohamed El-Fatatry knew better. An Egyptian national who grew up in the United Arab Emirates and moved to Finland to study technology, Mohamed knew that most young Muslims were like anyone else in the Western world. To demonstrate, at the age of twenty-one he created Muxlim, which became the largest Muslim lifestyle network in the world.
Mohamed 2.0: Disruption Manifesto is the story of Mohamed El-Fatatry, what happened in the private corridors of Muxlim, Inc. and what he plans for the future.
David J. Cord spent fifteen years in the investment industry, as salesman, administrator and hedge fund manager. He has been a contributor to the Helsinki Times newspaper since its foundation, reporting on business and authoring its most popular column, which includes an eclectic mix of investment tips, angry policy recommendations and laconic observations about the economy.
David’s prose relies heavily upon declarative simplicity, vivid imagery and symbolism, interspersed with unexpected misdirections and wry editorial comments.
An American by birth, David married a Finn and moved to Finland in 2005. He lives in Helsinki with his beautiful wife Niina and his globe-trotting dog Orion.