Author Interview–Paul Howard

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is proud to present:

Paul Howard!!

“I am an author, screenwriter and film maker, my screen credits include the cult classic “Night Terror” (1990) and the soon to be released “Hunt for the paul howardDesert Apeman” in collaboration with M.L. Behrman.

 I published my first novel: “The Galley“(2012) and its’ short story extract: “The Unthinkable (The Great Fire of Rome)“(2012). My newest books are “Timelines: The Beethoven Incident“(2013) and the first installment of “The Palindrome Chronicles”: the short story “We Were Here!”(2013) In October, my newest book; “Phoenix Part One: Spooks” was published.

 After spending my early years in the Midwest, I migrated to Southern California where I received most of my education. There is an old saying: “You can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.” I think that’s true in my case. Although I’ve lived in L.A. most of my life, the simple ways of Southern Illinois are still close to my heart. I love the opportunities to get away to the quiet of the deserts and countryside. It helps me think. My joys in life are playing the guitar and spending time with my grandchildren, (as well as writing!).

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BB & B: You are a very diversified gentleman—author, screenwriter, film maker, and guitar player.  What triggered your passion for the creative arts?

Paul: I think it was a combination of things throughout my life. My mother was an accomplished pianist; some of my earliest memories are of sitting under the piano as a toddler listening to her play. I grew up in a house full of books; my brothers and I were allowed to read any of them that we wanted.

By the time I was three I was drawing on the walls of our house. Our dining room had a barnyard scene with a giant pig over the table. I think I was two when I drew that. It burned through every time my father tried to paint it out. By my early teens, my desire to create took on the nature of a yearning, at first I was drawn to music and studied it in college.

Then, one night I found myself sitting in the front row of the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, watching Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. I immediately got myself a camera and film making textbooks. It was like all of the fine arts wrapped in one: music, literature, painting, sculpting, and drama all at once. I love all aspects of film making, but the business just wasn’t for me.

After completing my first feature, I found myself turning down every project that was offered to me after that over the next several years. I turned more and more to writing, first screenplays and teleplays, and ultimately books, where I could speak in my own language and tell the kinds of stories that really interested me.

I love the guitar; it makes me feel so good when I play it. Nothing gives a sense of pleasure and reward better than a musical instrument. Playing electric guitar was always a childhood dream. When I picked it up and started playing at the age of 50, I discovered that it was even better than I imagined it would be. If I had picked one up at the age of 15, who knows how different my life would have been?

BB & B: Your latest work was just released in October 2013.  Spooks is set in the year 2127 to a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles.  Can you tell us a little bit more about Spooks.  I’m intrigued about “ecto-infused.” Can you share with us how Spooks Cover3 copyyou came up with the concept.

Paul: The core concept of Spooks and the entire Phoenix Saga, is resurrection on different levels, first as the individual, but eventually of humanity as a whole. I’m not speaking spiritually, but sociologically.

The ecto-infusion process is a technical way of regenerating the recent dead using their own tissues as a template for the “ecto-being”. There is no magic or religious basis for it, thus keeping the storyline in the realm of pure science fiction.

I have always wanted to write a detective story with sci-fi overtones, this is my shot at it. As for the inspiration, ideas like this just pop into my head. I am always developing new material in my day-to-day activities. This idea just appealed to me so I developed it.

The biggest problem with most of my writing is that it doesn’t fit into any of the standard genre molds, which makes my books very hard to market. Spooks is still trying to find its audience, if people knew what it was, I think they would really go for it. It takes patience to write, it takes even more to find a readership for your work. 

BB & B: Spooks, is the first book to the Phoenix Saga, can you give us a sneak peek at what’s to come as the saga continues?

Paul: Should I? Here goes: as I stated before, the central theme of Phoenix is resurrection.

 The seed for the second book has already been planted in the first one. When it becomes apparent that they have an infused homicidal maniac running loose, Sam suggests that the U.S. should be chipping its criminals with GPS trackers. By the second book, which takes place a generation later, this becomes the standard practice. In fact, everyone on Earth is chipped. Almost everyone, anyway. Those who aren’t, are invisible in society; the LAPD, (who are now almost exclusively Spooks), find they are back to using old investigative methods to deal with such a person.

 The third book is based on the development of new chips, which are enhanced to educate through “Direct Memory Implantation”. Within a decade, everybody under the age of ten has the brain of an Einstein. But they are still caught up in a moronic culture, ruled by greed and power. The Spooks of the LAPD are now dealing with a generation of Superminds who still have the emotional responses of young children, and the powerful people who feel the growing threat of their presence.

BB & B: What inspires your stories and your characters?  

Paul: This not a cop out: everything I see, everybody I meet, every note of music I hear. The role of music in my inspiration is huge. My first book, The timelinesGalley was inspired mostly by Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade. My second book, The Beethoven Incident drew its feel from The Eroica Symphony and band music from the mid-nineteenth century. Go figure.

Maybe there’s something wrong with my head, but I’m enjoying it. I draw my characters from the people all around me. Not as individuals, but as personalities. I let my characters develop on their own as much as possible. I try to not to interfere with their motivations. If they can’t surprise me, they are not real enough. I don’t write characters, I try to write people who could exist outside of my muse. It seems to work for me; so far none of my critics have ever suggested that my characters don’t play.

BB & B: To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?

Paul: All of my characters are extensions of me to one degree or another. I think that is true for many authors, whether Shakespeare or Genet. The diversity of who they are is drawn from others that we know or meet, and are built on empathy.

I always ask myself: “What would it be like to be in your shoes?” I try to internalize the answer to that as honestly as possible. I think the best authors do that, too. You really can’t write good characters without a high degree of empathy and self-honesty. I love all of my characters; I love all the people I meet, even if I can’t stand to be around them. I feel sorry for those who can feel hate or alienation; it must be a very lonely world for them.

 BB & B: If you could put together a dream project, what would that be and why?

 Paul:Uncivil Nation” If there is one Great Truth of human existence, it is this: “Man is a genius race trapped in a moronic culture by self-centered idiots.”

The most humbling experience of my life is to look into the face of a six month-old child. There is all the unbridled potential and optimism that Man is capable of achieving. Turn on your television or internet and look at the continuous effort to process that potential out of him or her.

Why are we obsessed with celebrity culture? It has absolutely nothing to offer us but lowered self-esteem. The only stars in our lives are the people we are close to. Sit in a room full of people and observe the isolation imposed by the new phones which keep us distracted from our lives and each other. Why is this happening? The answers are out there, but god help the person who expresses it. I can only imagine what Hugo or Dickens would be writing about today.

If I had the time or resources, I would undertake such a project, but it would also take more than that. Vonnegut wrote about these things and couched them as humor, if he hadn’t, his books would have been unpalatable, and he would have been silenced. We nail those who try to find our better angels to crosses.

BB & B: What can fans expect from you in the near future?

Paul: Now that I have published three series novels, I am going to service those. The next book is going to be the follow-up in the Timelines Series, followed by “Galley II: The Fall of Nero”. I have also resumed work on a fourth galleyseries: The Palindrome Chronicles, but it will have to wait for the other three series to develop. My plan is to issue new installments of past series, along with a completely new book, at least once a year. Goodness knows where I will find the time, my hands are so full.

BB & B: Do you have any closing words you’d like to share?

Paul: Wow! Yes there are. After spending over a year in the self-published e-book environment, there are one or two points I would like to make.

First of all, the vast majority of you who are reading this are self-published authors. That is my first point. While the e-book market is growing rapidly, the actual marketing and discussion tools on the web are being used by the authors themselves, not the reading audience. We have become a cloistered group like the Free Masons; writing for the consumption and approbation of our colleagues instead of our readers.

While I admire and support you all, I am not interested in doing that. I am interested in the guy with the Kindle sitting on the commuter train on the way home from work. Am I entertaining him? Based on my numbers, I am reaching that audience. But he doesn’t write reviews. I have known many people who are avid readers, not one of them writes reviews. When I look at most e-book reviews, including my own, I see authors, not readers commenting on each other’s work. Most of them of them, to be frank, are terrible at it.

How many times do I see, “I have an obligation to tell the audience what they’re getting.”? An e-book costs less than a hamburger these days, we have no such obligation to ourselves, or each other. People are burning over four bucks on a gallon of gas! Get real. I never review a book I don’t like, if I see errors or typos, I contact the author personally and give them my report. I review on content, not style or grammar; I have no wish to do injury to the efforts of another author, and neither should any of the rest of us. If you read an e-book and feel like doing it, you should ask yourself why. I see typos in books that are over two thousand years old. The only reason I bring this up is because the reviews on e- books are marketing tools: raw numbers on a book page.

The real reviews are in the book stats. I am getting very high loan numbers on KDP. About one loan for every three sold. That is a reader review that matters. They are passing my books around to their friends! I’m not getting rich, but I’m showing thousands of readers a good time. Which leads me to my second point: I am very encouraged by the quality of the novels that are being self-published! Over the past year, I only encountered one that was unreadable, one that was badly written to the extent of distraction, and over a hundred that were actually worth reading.

There are some really good authors out there! I am constantly reading comments from authors who are worried about bad product giving self-publishing a bad name. Based on my experience, that is not a problem to worry about. I think that the overwhelming majority of those who can bring a book to completion are also capable of writing a decent book in the process, and the majority of what I have seen is consistent with that. If you have a finished book online, the odds are that it is pretty good, and you have good reason to believe in it.

This is wonderful Paul! Thank you for sharing your time with us and best wishes on all your future endeavors.

To follow Paul and his work, you can find him at any one of these links below:

Check out Paul’s books at Amazon.com.

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