Welcome to the blogsite, Paul. Thank you for joining us.
Q. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
A. I was born in a small town east of Birmingham in the US. My family moved to Chicago when I was five and I came of age in California. I entered university at the end of 1967 and fell into a blossoming subculture that reshaped my reality, figuratively and perhaps a little too literally.
I worked for IBM and had worldwide responsibility for several emerging business opportunities for the company, one being intelligent video surveillance. After 9/11, as you can imagine, security and safety became of paramount important to corporations, police departments, governments, casinos, banks, retailers, and a host of others. As a result, I was almost constantly traveling on my way to somewhere else.
I’ve lived in some exotic places such as London, Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Anchorage, and more. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in all fifty states and almost as many countries. If you’re thinking of your dream vacation spot right now, I’ve probably been there.
These experiences have allowed me to interact with people within their own cultures, experience their spiritual and political environments, and understand their hopes and dreams. Consumed with an overwhelming fascination to learn something from every person encountered along my journey, I was able to understand the world through their eyes; its animosities, ambitions, and motivations. As a result, the books in The Hollow Man Series have a ring of realism that pulls the reader into the scene with the characters, whether it’s entering a dark alley in Madrid or sitting in a café on the Champs Elysees.
Q. When you’re not writing, what leisure time activities or hobbies do you enjoy?
A. I’ve been taking guitar lessons for ten years and I’m still the “world’s okayest player”, as the saying goes. I would love to be able to play really well and I would also love to blame my lack of skill on the fact I’m left-handed playing in a right-handed world. But the truth is, playing the guitar well requires a huge level of practice. Strangely, that’s very similar to writing.
Q. Who are your favourite authors?
A. More than any author I can read over and over, I continue to be drawn back to my favourite twentieth-century poets. The poetry of T.S. Elliot, W.H. Auden, and Dylan Thomas has done more to shape who I am as a writer than any other. An American, an Englishman, and a Welshman have taught me in my writing to search for the exact word needed by its sound, its meaning, its shape, and its feel to create my own form of poetry in my prose. At the very least, their words never fail to lift me above whatever sea bottom I may be roaming at the moment.
Q. What drove you to begin a writing career?
A. After retiring early from my day job, I used to sit with friends on the porch of my country home to reminisce. We spat tobacco juice into the yard as we took turns telling old stories. Okay, it was the local pub and none of us dipped or smoked. Curiously though, the group was always interested in my stories. One encouraged me to write a book about a few of my early exploits. She asked, “Do you have something better to do?” Apparently, I didn’t.
It was more fun than I imagined. The manuscript took a year to draft, rewrite several times, professionally edit, and publish. But I didn’t feel like a real author until I held a copy of the paperback in my hand.
Q. What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing any writer at the present time?
A. There are many difficult challenges facing today’s writers, from creating an outline to finding a publisher so let me focus on the challenge most critical to me: that is, maintaining consistency across books in a series.
There are three important challenges I encounter in writing a series.
First, sustaining a character arc can create difficulties. A character begins a series with certain viewpoints that change through events in the initial narrative. As the second narrative begins, the character should reflect the impact of the first novel and the third instalment needs to show continued growth.
It’s also not easy to maintain the story arc across multiple books while ending each with a resolution that leaves the reader satisfied. Try to plan a high level view of your series then plot convenient ending points.
Lastly, the tone of each book should reflect the series but not serve as a rerun. There should be something that surprises but at the same time, the reader is re-entering the same world left at the end of the last book. If it is too different, the reader may feel betrayed and stop reading.
Q. Do you write from imagination, personal experience, or a mixture?
A. The Hollow Man Series is based on true events during the early 1970’s. The Hollow Man traces some of my experiences as a young man traveling in Europe. At the time, terrorism was on the rise and I had been assigned to learn as much as I could about it. Most early acts of terror were specific, personal and damage was focused on a distinct, definable enemy. But terrorism was beginning to change its strategy to the familiar, senseless chaos we recognize today. The death of political figures no longer seemed to bother us as much as these new, random attacks against our children. Targets of innocence became preferable because they hit closer to our hearts and the fear inside us grew larger with each incident.
The sequel to The Hollow Man, is called London Bridge is Falling Down. During the same timeframe as The Hollow Man, animosities between England and Ireland had become razor sharp. Mass bombings and cross border clashes were constant reminders of Ireland’s struggle to be united and free. The media had dubbed these conflicts “The Troubles” which had already claimed almost a thousand lives and there was no end in sight. Militant activities were spiking amid rumours the IRA had developed a list of targets designed to bring England to her knees. Like The Hollow Man, London Bridge is Falling Down is based on true events and includes some of the same, unforgettable characters.
Q. Do you have a current ‘work in progress’? Can you tell us anything about it?
A. My work in progress is Surviving Prague, the third installment of the series. A British MI6 agent and an American field analyst are running for their lives after being implicated in the murder of a high ranking government official. Trapped in a Communist country with no way out, the two are forced to find the killer to save their own lives. But the treacherous trail leading through the dark underworld of terrorism takes them right to the center of a plot to dominate Western Europe.
Q. When you have finished writing the book – what do you do next? By that I mean, do you edit the book yourself? Do you design your own book cover? Do you prepare a project plan to market your book?
A. I edit the first drafts myself to get a feel for the plot sequencing and character development ensure consistence. When I think my draft is perfect I turn it over to a professional editor to get an initial perspective. I highly recommend the price of a professional; she will be worth every penny.
I believe creating the perfect book cover is both an art the most critical first step in a book’s marketing strategy. If a reader’s interest is not peaked enough by the cover image for her to pick up the book, it will never be read. Consequently, I do design my own covers to give my books the best chance of initial success possible but I left the remainder of my marketing plan to the professionals to avoid missteps from inexperience. When I originally began marketing my first novel, I quickly watched it turn into a full time endeavour. Now, as with an editor, I leave marketing activities to the professionals.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone starting out on a writing career?
A. First-time authors may be overwhelmed by the amount of conflicting information that’s going to be flying at them. Try to tune the noise out and write. Write the story you need to write with your own style and voice, not the one you think agents, publishers, and readers want. Find the time to write on a schedule, every day and write until your story is drafted.
Proof it, edit it, stylize it, or whatever until you’re satisfied with the result. Then hire a professional editor. An editor will raise your work to the next level. You will hate her, disagree with her, and argue with her but listen to your editor and make the suggested changes. In the end your book will be much better for it.
During the writing process, join social media and make friends, not followers. Ask questions on your social networks and I guarantee we will answer from personal viewpoints of experience, knowledge, and strength. Avoid most of the Googled ‘how to’ articles which ask your same questions but never seen to get to the ‘how to’ part.
Q. If you were gifted an air ticket to ‘anywhere’, which destination would you choose above all others and why?
A. I have travelled extensively over the years and I’ve had an opportunity to see many of the most wonderful places on earth. If I had to move now, two immediate choices come to mind. I’ve always felt comfortable in the English countryside with its rolling hills, friendly small towns, and of course its history.
My other choice is the southern coast of France. With the growing Alps behind, the Côte d'Azur offers a shoreline to suit all wants. Everyone finds what he needs on the Riviera, whether it’s strolling on a stony beach or soaking up gentle sunrays, dining with locals or simply people-watching from the comfort of an outdoor café, shopping with supermodels or partying with rock stars.
Q. If you could invite three people from history to a dinner party. Who would you invite and why?
A. Christopher Marlowe was a brilliant playwright but like so many of his profession, he died young. He was often described as a spy, a brawler, a heretic, a magician, a duellist, a counterfeiter, and an old fashioned hell raiser. Oh, the stories he could tell me! I suspect we would get along famously. But I’m curious about how he died. Given the inconsistencies concerning his death, some theorize that Marlowe may have faked his death and then continued to write under the assumed name of William Shakespeare. And then, another anonymous writer asked in an August 1819 copy of The Monthly Review, "Can Christopher Marlowe be a nom de guerre assumed for a time by Shakespeare?" Perhaps I should invite both and see which one attends?
Thomas Edison was a prolific inventor, there’s no doubt about it. But to me, more significant than the number of his patents, were the many impacts his inventions had on the world. They helped establish a number of major new industries worldwide like power utilities, sound recording, motion pictures, and others. He not only created practical ground-breaking designs, but also everything necessary to mass produce his inventions and get them into the hands of the public. These were amazing accomplishments. I would be very interested to discuss with Edison whether he had set out to simply create a product to support some new industry or had he really intended to create an industry to support his new product.
Amelia Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Along with many aviation records, she wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of the Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. A brave and adventurous free spirit, Earhart was at once a modern Magellan and a founding astronaut exploring the vast unknown of her time. Anyone would be mesmerized by her life. And the most spellbinding part of all would certainly be what happened after she and Noonan took off from New Guinea in her heavily loaded Lockheed Electra 10E.
Q. Do you have website or social media page you would like to invite us to visit?
Q. Do you have links on twitter or any other social media sites?
A Twitter Handle: @HollowManSeries
London Bridge is Falling Down:
You can check out Paul's Amazon page by CLICKING HERE