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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Author Interview: Paul Carroll

Today I am pleased to present to you all the twenty-second in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the occasionally cranky Paul Carroll and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
P.C.:  I’m a mid-day writer; most of my work is done from late morning up to three in the afternoon. I usually sit down with a cup of tea and set myself a target for what I want to achieve. If it’s a longer project, I’ll sometimes do a “warm up” by writing a haiku or two beforehand to get the creative juices going. Other than that, I let myself get distracted by social networks just long enough to celebrate how much I’ve written.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
P.C.:  I’m a huge fan of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and children’s/YA books, when I actually get a chance to read them. My favourite authors, if I had to pick, are Terry Pratchett, Darren Shan and John Green, though not in any particular order. There’s a particular excitement to each one, and their stories tend to be completely different to one another, so I get a good mix with just those three.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
P.C.:  There’s a confusing mix of real-life people, fairies and other assorted magical creatures and explosions in there. I write across several genres, so my creative mind lends itself to images from Fantasy and Science Fiction a lot, as well as regular images of what I can remember streets looking like from wherever I’ve been in the world. There’s a lot of colour, a lot of people and a distracting amount of unknowable things lurking around in there.

Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why?
P.C.:  I’m only one book in, but even with the characters I currently have planned for my series, the character of Stephen Fox in Balor Reborn is a favourite. There’s a lot to his history that I loved writing about, and writing his parts of the book really made the experience for me. He’s a pained man, still grieving the death of his wife nineteen years on, and that agony causes him to accept some of the horrible actions he commits in the book.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
P.C.:  During the summer months, it’s a simple process of just sitting down to write. When I’m sitting through an academic year, I plan my writing to take place before lectures and before Drama in college, and before and after work at the weekends. It gives me time to get quite a bit of work done, usually when people aren’t around to talk to me.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
P.C.:  Well it would help it you didn’t spoil my next book! Joking aside… I can be quite cranky when I’m tired. Even when I try put on a happy face, I get snarky and rude, especially when people interrupt me when I’m writing. (The secret to getting away with it is to make sure I have a cup of tea!)

Paul:  If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
P.C.:  For me, it was largely to do with the way I was writing the book. I wrote Balor Reborn in a week, with the aim of publishing it on day seven. Getting a publisher to go ahead with that would have been a tactical nightmare. Self-publishing gave me the freedom to write the book, design the cover and put together the trailer all the way I wanted it done, knowing I could publish it whenever it pleased me to.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
P.C.:  I plot them. I typically have a lot of work to do for college, or I get too many ideas for things I want to do, so I need to plot my stories to make sure I actually keep them coherent. Flash fiction I’m okay with, but when I start writing longer short stories, or even full books, I need to plan them.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
P.C.:  I find that when I plan my stories, they aren’t as raw and in need of editing as they would otherwise be. Of course, it has helped that I’ve been writing since the age of twelve. All that experience has helped me get my words out on the screen the way I intend them to be more easily, to the point where my beta reader for my recent novella said it could nearly be published as-is. All it needed was a proofread beforehand.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
P.C.:  For the current stories I’m focusing on, my research simply involves reading about old stories. I’m retelling Irish myths in modern Ireland, so I need to get a feel for the original stories. It doesn’t require much for each book, and it generally doesn’t feel like research.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
P.C.:  The most recent book I released is called Balor Reborn. It tells the story of the evil giant Balor, from an old Irish myth, coming back to modern Dublin through a grieving widower. From start to finish, it’s an adventure, with fairies and magic working their way through after Balor and an unwilling hero, Fionn (named after an Irish hero), having to step up to save innocent lives.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
P.C.:  Back in April, I decided I’d wanted to write a book in a week. I just didn’t know what book. I pitched four or five ideas to some friends, including Balor Reborn, but even before they unanimously voted for it, I had my heart set on it. I was thinking about the story more in-depth than I should have, knowing that this book, bringing this myth back into the public eye, was the right thing to do. I just felt it in my gut.

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
P.C.:  I tend to delve in all three. My poetry, usually, finds itself restricted to haiku, while my non-fiction consists of articles on writing and marketing. Because of time constraints, I don’t always get to write short stories, though I’ve recently taken up flash fiction to help with that.

Paul:  Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
P.C.:  As it currently stands, the first book I wrote is too painfully written to ever show people. I finished it when I was fifteen. I’d have to rewrite the whole thing before ever considering letting it out into the world. As well as that, a book I wrote when I was seventeen is too much a copy of X-Men and Heroes that I’d need to revise the whole plot. I like the idea, but it’s just not executed well enough for me to want to share it with people.

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
P.C.:  I don’t think I’m alone in saying that when it comes to applying marketing theory, I’m not that great. However, I try to keep my ‘brand’ alive with tweeted haiku and articles on writing. With my recent uptake of flash fiction, it should be a little easier to get people familiar with my take on mythology in the Fantasy genre. With Friday Flash, it should be easier to get those stories noticed while I continue working on the books.

Paul:  What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
P.C.:  My least favorite aspect of my writing life is trying to reconcile it with a social life. I’m still at that age where I’m expected to be going out often and meeting new people all the time, and it comes down to a choice of that or writing. It’s usually a judgment call, based on how I’m actually feeling at the time. What surprises me in this respect, though, is that by knowing I’m giving up writing to actually get out of the house and meet people, I tend to have a better time, relax a bit more, and actually talk to people more freely. When I get back to writing, I just make up for lost time, but I don’t let myself feel guilty.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
P.C.:  When I’m not writing, I’m either at college or at work. However, I do find time to go to the cinema (usually once a week), read comic books and fantasy novels, and during the college year I take part in Drama in college.

Paul:  Well, Paul, that was great. I wish you every success for the future.

About Paul Carroll: Paul Carroll is a writer and student from Dublin. He is currently studying to become a Religion and English teacher at second level, while dividing his time between writing fiction, poetry, scripts and keeping up with assignments in college. He makes use of social media to interact with other writers, bakes in his spare time, and watches horror films alone in the dark.

Paul's Website: Paul Carroll
Paul on Twitter: @writeranonymous
Paul on Facebook: paulcarrollwriter
Paul's latest book: Balor Reborn (Amazon)

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