Irving Karchmar has an M.A. in Philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago, and has worked on such varied magazines as Hustler and the American Bar Association (ABA) Human Rights magazine. Between 1977 and 1985, he published Fantastic Films magazine.
In 1986, Karchmar won the Trade Magazine Press Editors Award for his work with the ABA's Barrister magazine. In the same year, he published his first book, It Was Mostly You, a collection of poetry.
Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Tale is his latest work. The novel has since been translated into Russian; Bahasa; Turkish, as well as into Malayalam, the language of the Indian state of Kerala.
Irving Karchmar spoke about his writing and the work that went into the novel.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I have always been an avid reader, and began writing poetry in my early teens. From there it progressed to working for magazine publishing companies as an editor and writer, continuing to write poetry, and after a few awkward attempts at my own fiction, getting the idea for Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel.
I did not decide to be a writer; it was a gradual evolution and confluence of work opportunities and practice that led me to it.
Who would you say has influenced you the most?
The Sufi path of love has been my greatest influence, as you can tell by Master of the Jinn, but my love of good writing, and for certain genres, such as science-fiction, fantasy, and Persian and Arabic fiction and Sufi stories all seemed to mesh together to influence me. And of course, the love and support of my beloved family, friends and darvishes, all fellow travelers on life's journey.
What are darvishes?
A darvish is the same as a dervish, which is a disciple in a Sufi Order, or more accurately, a disciple of a Sufi Master. Darvish is the Persian way of spelling and pronouncing it.
What are your main concerns as a writer?
My only concern as a writer is to tell the truth as best I can, in the best way I am able. On the Sufi path this is a lifelong task. Also, to hone my writing skills, which to me is not only telling a story on paper, but adding some iota of understanding to the human experience.