Thursday, June 27, 2013

Author Kfir Luzzatto: The Hypnotic Power of Fiction

I’m delighted today to welcome another ‘new-to-me’ author
Author Kfir Luzzatto
that acquired his love for the English language from his father, a former U.S. soldier and World War II veteran, a voracious reader and a prolific writer.

Author Kfir Luzzatto was born and raised in Italy and moved to Israel as a teenager. Writing has always been his passion. His new novel, ExtraLife, Inc., is a mystery/thriller. The book is scheduled for release on July 1 in paperback on, B&, and as an eBook wherever eBooks are sold, including Kindle and Smashwords.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the book. The first two chapters of ExtraLife, Inc. is available here.
    David Wolfson, a Jerusalem scientist, claims to have found the cure for cancer. He and his wife, Tamara, seek the help of Richard Lunz, a Tel Aviv attorney, to fight the powerful bureaucrats who want to appropriate David's invention.
    Richard can’t resist the temptation to participate in what looks like the discovery of the century, and it takes a first death to make him doubt that something in the project is not what it seems.
    And then other people die.
    Following clues that take him to Eastern Europe and to America, Richard finds more answers than he wished for. But he just can't stop looking.

We all know how powerful books can be. They make us buy them when we say we are just going to look. Kfir joins us today to touch on this subject as he discusses ‘The Hypnotic Power of Fiction.’

Have you ever wondered why some books affect us deeply while others leave us cold? Of course, many factors come into play, including our personal tastes and inclinations; however, in order to touch us deeply the text must be able to actually hypnotize us – really, not as a figure of speech. And hypnosis is what happens when we are really enthralled by a book.

What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a heightened state of focus. When guided by a hypnotist you are focused on the words he uses and the sound of his voice. It is a state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination. It's not like sleep, because you are alert and fully conscious, but you tune out most of the stimuli around you and focus intently on the subject at hand, to the near exclusion of any other thought. (An informative discussion of hypnosis can be found here.)

So when you get immersed in a book and focus on the words, the story becomes your primary object and the room around you is forgotten; you are in a state of trance in which you can really enjoy what you are reading.

Reading is not the only example of everyday hypnosis. You can be hypnotized, for instance, by the water running in the shower, watching a movie and, most dangerously, driving.

Hypnosis is Good for You Let's be clear about one thing: being hypnotized (in most cases, self-hypnotized) is a good thing, because hypnosis is a state of heightened receptivity in which you can feel, understand and participate in the activity you are undertaking, fully and effectively. Hypnosis in real life has nothing to do with the tricks that you may have seen on stage, which are just that: tricks.

Which Book Will Hypnotize You? Having established that we want to be hypnotized when reading a novel, let's take a quick look at the prerequisites for a story to beExtraLife able to accomplish that result. First of all, it has to have a plot that is enthralling, because you can’t go into a trance if you are bored. That is completely subjective, because if you are not into alien body snatchers you are not likely to get lost in a book that focuses on them.

But now comes the objective part. Much of your activity while in a hypnotic trance is essentially "daydreaming" and to give you the opportunity to really enjoy the story, the book must be written so that you are able to visualize the characters, the surroundings and the events. In other words, the book must be well written. Long and boring descriptions will make your attention wander and take you out of your trance.

It is also important to provide enough space in the story for the readers to daydream their own evolution of a branch of the plot, or an alternative chapter, or even a sequel to the book. If you read my upcoming novel, ExtraLife, Inc. (released on July 1st) keeping this post in mind, you'll be able to see a few points where I have left enough room for the reader to run ahead with the story and devise his or her own solution to some of the mysteries.

Books to Remember
You surely have read books that stayed with you quite a while after you finished reading and perhaps you are reminded of them every now and then. Why does that happen only with a few books? The simple explanation is, of course, that those are "good books." But what does that mean in relation to their hypnotic power? To understand it we must take a quick look at what a "post-hypnotic" suggestion is.

Broadly speaking, a "post-hypnotic" suggestion is a suggestion given to the subject while in the hypnotic state (or trance), which will cause him to behave in a certain way while in his normal, non-hypnotic state. For instance, a post-hypnotic suggestion given to a person wishing to lose weight could be that seeing a cheesecake will trigger a feeling of fullness (or disgust.)

When we are hypnotized by a book and are in a highly-receptive state, passages that we read are sometimes etched in our mind, much like a post-hypnotic suggestion. For instance, I can't see a can of spray of any kind without being reminded of Philip K. Dick's "Ubik" (if you haven't read it, now it's time to grab a copy), simply because – no spoiler –a can of spray plays a significant role in that outstanding book.

When We Can't Be Hypnotized
Of course, there are external factors too, which can prevent us from going into a trance, but those pretty much depend on your individual power of concentration. I can easily get lost in a book pretty much everywhere, but some people may find it difficult to go into a "reading trance" on the subway or on a noisy beach. That's not too bad if you are reading escapist literature, which is purely recreational and requires little or no emotional participation, but I would not recommend it for books that require more reader involvement.

Those Who Don’t Get It
Since getting hypnotized by a book is a good thing and a great way to enjoy your reading (at least, that's my belief), I was baffled to read an article titled "How to Read a Book Without Getting Hypnotized." Why on earth would people do that to themselves, is more than I can fathom. But then I also never understood masochism of any kind.

So next time you read a good book allow yourself to drift into that pleasant, blurry state in which you are fully immersed in the story. You may even want to try setting the stage for your trance, reading in a nice, quiet environment free from distractions. The Internet is full of useful tips on how to promote a trance. And if you find that your reading pleasure has been heightened, drop me a line!

Kfir, thanks for joining us today. I had never really thought about being hypnotized by a book, but now that I think about it - that’s what good books do.

Now let me share a bit more about Kfir.
With a PhD in chemical engineering and a long family history that he needs to live up to, Kfir works as a patent attorney and heads the patent law firm that was established by his great-grandfather in Milan, Italy, in 1869. Kfir lives in Omer, Israel, with his full-time partner, Esther, their four children, Michal, Lilach, Tamar and Yonatan, and the dog Elvis. 

Writing has always been Kfir's passion and for almost four years he wrote a weekly "Patents" column in Globes (Israel’s financial newspaper), which also yielded his only (if he can help it) non-fiction book, THE WORLD OF PATENTS, (a not-so-boring tale of what patents are about, in Hebrew), which was published in 2002 by Globes Press.

Kfir loves writing short stories but has too many novels waiting to be written (and possibly not enough years ahead of him to write them all), so now he mostly writes full-length fiction. His other passion is working with other authors on stories he loves and that's how he wound up serving on the editorial board of The Harrow Press as Anthology Editor.

You can read about Kfir's books here. He loves them all, but never had greater fun than when working on “HAVE BOOK WILL TRAVEL,” a YA fantasy that he wrote together with his son, Yonatan.

For more on Kfir and his writing, join his mailing list here, contact him here, follow him on Twitter:@KfirLuzzatto or Facebook at, check out his blog, his Author Page, his Goodreads Page and his Smashwords Page.

Thanks so much for visiting today. Had you ever thought about being hypnotized by a book?


  1. Kfir, thanks again for joining us. You've given me a different look at how books hold our attention and stay with us. Wishing you much success.

  2. Thanks for having me on your beautiful blog!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.