900 Words with Me.

What’s news?

I received a great new review at Amazon for The Imaginings from author Hunter Shea.  Don’t worry.  I won’t put up every review here that I get, but seeing as I interviewed Hunter (click here for “Seven Questions with Author Hunter Shea”), I thought it was a nice connection.

“The Imaginings is a fun trip through hell on earth! Author Paul Dail does a great job weaving a horror story that will unsettle you. There’s a demon trying hard to gain purchase in our world, and he may have found the perfect human host to wreak havoc. The madness never lets up as everything hurtles to a confrontation for the ages in the Montana wild. Filled with rich, complex characters that will draw you in from the get-go, The Imaginings is a bitchin’ read.”

Thanks so much, Hunter.  And for the rest of you, if you haven’t already, please check out Hunter’s blog where you can find his recently released, Forest of Shadows (he’s getting some pretty great reviews, as well).

What does the future hold?

Speaking of author interviews, I’m excited to announce (or remind you if you read last week’s post) that next Friday, I will be posting “Seven Questions with Author Jonathan D. Allen.”  And be sure to keep your eyes open because while the first six question are the same, I try to change up the seventh question to keep it lively.  And Jonathan doesn’t disappoint with his answers.

But without further ado…

The following interview was originally posted at Tracy’s Treasure of Books (unfortunately no longer blogging).  It was my first interview, and I had a great time answering these questions.  I feel like I’m cheating a little bit by posting this one, but with everything else going on in my life these days (see question #1 below), I’m okay with a cheat every now and then.

Personally, I love author interviews because I get a chance to get to know the person behind the words just a little better.  While our blogs may be full of our opinions, and our writing may be very revealing of ourselves, I believe a good interview brings out things that neither of the above necessarily reveals.

It is my hope that you feel the same as I indulge myself a little.

And NOW without further ado…

1- What distracts you from writing the easiest?

The rest of my life, which currently includes a part-time job teaching high school English, a part-time job marketing my book The Imaginings, and a part-time job raising our 18 month-old daughter.

2- Did you always want to be a writer, even when you were growing up?

Not necessarily, but I don’t think I had a choice.  When I think about my imaginary friend as a child living in a farmhouse in upstate New York in the middle of nowhere, I wonder if some horror writers are just born.  My imaginary friend was “the little man outside the window with a flashlight.”  Scared the bejeezus out of a babysitter once who didn’t know he was imaginary… or was he?

3- Did your family support you in becoming a writer?

By the time I finally decided to pursue my passion professionally, I was old enough that they were supporting whatever I chose to do.  My wife has also been a huge supporter of me artistically.

4- What kind of books do you enjoy?

From high school up through my first attempt at college, I pretty much read strictly horror, but in the years since, I’ve read anything I can get my hands on.  I realized that if I want to be successful as a writer, I need to be able to appeal to all readers, not just supernatural/horror readers.  And actually when it comes down to my top ten influential books, only two of them are traditional horror (for more on this, check out my post entitled, “My own Works Cited list: 10 books that have inspired me).

5- What is the biggest thing you have to overcome when you want to write?

Making it fit into my schedule (see #1, and then read Nancy Holder’s advice in the next question).

6- What are some of the best tips you’ve received about your writing?

“The best thing about writing fiction is that you can take something that happened to you, and if you don’t like the way it ended, change it.” – Bill Ransom (professor of mine from many years ago.  Bill cowrote a few novels with Frank Herbert)

“If you want to write professionally, you have to schedule it like anything else and then just put your butt in the chair.  Even if you don’t write anything, get in the habit of being there in front of the computer.”- Nancy Holder (my instructor at the week long Maui Writer’s Retreat.  She cowrote the first official Buffy the Vampire Slayer tie-in novel)

7- Some talk about life before kids, how about life before writing?

I can tell you about the former, but not sure I’ve ever had a life before writing.  Even if being a writer wasn’t what I thought I was “going to be when I grew up,” I was always writing stories.

8- Where do you find the inspiration for your books?

See Bill Ransom’s quote in #6.  Previous to getting married, I spent a good bit of time traveling around, and I managed to see some interesting stuff.  I think this is why so many writers have enjoyed traveling so much.  Hemingway, Steinbeck, Kerouac.  You absorb so much life on the road.  Even though I have a degree in writing, I usually tell people that the best education I’ve received comes from the many people I’ve met in all of the places I’ve traveled.

Otherwise, stories just kind of come to me in a flash.  I will see something ordinary to most people in my day-to-day and for some reason, my brain comes up with a scary story (for more on this, see my post entitled, “A Day in the Mind of a Horror Writer… or Why My Brain is Different From Yours”).

9- How do you find your characters and their personalities?

See #8.

10- What is one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you?

I don’t want to ruin any street cred I might have with the horror writing community, but since you asked, I’ll be honest and say I’m a big Neil Diamond fan.  I’m something of a hopeless romantic.

(I liked this question enough that with Tracy’s permission, I’ve also used it in my “Seven Question” interviews)

11- Do you have any quirky habits when you write?

Well, sometimes my characters do things that I didn’t know they were going to do, or the complete opposite of what I want them to do.  But I guess there’s nothing quirky about my actual writing process.  Sorry.

12- When is your next book coming out and can you tell us about it?

Well, from first draft to publication, The Imaginings took me a little over seven years (not that I was working on it full-time, but still…).  To keep up some momentum but still put out a quality product, I’m hoping to have my next novel out in three years.

As to what it’s about, I’m not quite ready to give that up, but I’ll say three things.  1- It’s not a sequel to The Imaginings.  2- It will be another supernatural thriller.  3- My past experience working with disabled students at an elementary school was the inspiration.

Oh, and while The Imaginings is currently only available in e-book format, I’m hoping to have it available in trade paperback from Amazon by the end of September.

(11/11/11 postscript-  As of today, my cover artwork still isn’t done yet.  What is the saying about God laughing at our plans?)

What do I want from you?

Of course, I would love any comments you might have on this interview. 

But let me again direct you to the following sites:

Nancy Holder’s Official Website

Hunter Shea’s Official Website

And don’t forget to check back next Friday for “Seven Questions with Author Jonathan D. Allen.”

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15 responses to “900 Words with Me.

  1. Great interview, and yeah, again seeing some parallels between the two of us…of course, minus the Neil Diamond, hehe. Seriously, loved the statement about how much you learn while on the road. Most of my early works revolved around the concept, and I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that my first published novel features a road trip from hell. Great stuff!

    Oh yeah, and I’m loving the Dali-style mustache on your facebook profile 🙂

    • Thanks, Jonathan. Yes, we are definitely kindred souls. And in the immortal words of Bill Murray, “There are two types of people in this world. Those who like Neil Diamond. And those who don’t.” Glad you stopped by, and looking forward to posting your interview next Friday. Hope you have a good weekend.

  2. “The best thing about writing fiction is that you can take something that happened to you, and if you don’t like the way it ended, change it.” I absolutely love that line. So true. Don’t worry about the Neil Diamond reveal. I’m a huge Tom Jones fan, myself! No shame in my game. Hope The Imaginings sells a million copies!

    • Okay, more confessions. Since meeting my wife, I’ve become a Tom Jones fan as well. I used to joke around when he came on the iPod. Now I’m singing along. She says I have a man-crush on him. Thanks again for your review.

  3. Cheating a little on blogposts is perfectly all right. I’ve been known to do it in a pinch a time or two myself.

    I have one quirky writing habit. When I’m stuck and frustrated, I bake brownies. It, ah, goes hand-in-hand with my WALKING habit, which fortunately helps with writer’s block too.

    I just might have to dig up some Neil Diamond on the ‘net today. Not a diehard fan, but the power of suggestion, you know…

    • Hey Michelle, thanks for the comments. Brownies, eh? Yeah, that would be a problem for me. I would definitely have to develop more of a walking habit, as well 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a good weekend.

  4. What an awesome post! I confess, your answer to question 7 reminded me of me. I can’t remember life before writing either. I have a picture of me at two or so, and I’m lying on my belly with my legs in the air, scrawling on something! I still do that (minus the legs in the air, of course. 🙂

    • Katrina, thank you so much for your comments. I’m glad you can relate to #7. Sounds like a great picture. I’m sure somewhere around is a similar picture of me. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Good to read about your first horror character from New York! Nice interview!!!

    • Thanks, Tony. Yes, I guess that would’ve been my first horror character. I still have to work him into a story somehow. Never thought about doing that until today, but I’m sure he’ll make it into my writing someplace.

  6. I love learning strange facts about you. You and the family are in my thoughts always. Give em all hugs for me.

  7. This is a little bit of a mixed bag from Blaze. I love Neil Diamond, too. However, I want to set the moustache on fire. Just my fire-starting nature perhaps.

    I agree with Kodi that strange facts are cool! Oh, the be-devilment!

    Great interview!

    Blaze

    • Hey Blaze, thanks for stopping by.

      Wait a minute. Whose mustache doe you want to set on fire? Neil’s? Does he have a mustache now? Or are you talking about mine? Actually that was an unusual moment. I don’t normally have the fuses out to the side like that 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed the interview. I still have you on tap for my Seven Questions. Possibly next month.

      • Let’s just say that Neil does not have a moustache, Paul. 😀

        By the way, check out my blog: you are sharing the Versatile Blogger Award with me.

        Blaze

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