Paul’s parents were missionaries in the Philippines from 1950-1954. He was home schooled with the same materials used at a private school in Baguio City, Luzon. His first stories were about the characters in Winnie the Pooh. He wrote them when he was eight years old. He had beautiful handwriting until they came back to the US and went to public school and had to change to a slant. He would start to write in longhand and write until his hand was tired. Sometimes he wrote for twenty-four hours at a time or until the story was finished. Almost everything Paul wrote was stream of consciousness. Some stories ended before he finished them because he ran out of study halls or was too tired to write anymore. Most of Paul’s stories came from dreams he wrote down. Sometimes he was inspired by something he read or something someone said or people he observed.
A Smashwords Interview With The Author
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My parents were missionaries in the Philippines from 1950-1954. I was home schooled with the same materials used at a private school I went to in Bagio City, Luzon. My first stories were about the characters in Winnie the Pooh. I wrote them when I was eight years old. I had beautiful handwriting until we came back to the US and I went to public school and had to change to a slant. I would start to write in longhand and write until my hand was tired. Sometimes I wrote for twenty-four hours at a time or until the story was finished. Almost everything I wrote was stream of consciousness. Some stories ended before I finished them because I ran out of study halls or I as too tired to write anymore. Most of my stories came from dreams I had that I wrote down the next day. Sometimes i was inspired by something I read or something someone said or people I observed.
When did you first start writing?
When I learned how to read and write. When I was eight years old. A nurse who lived downstairs in the mission house asked me to get crackers out of the kitchen. When I said I couldn’t find them, she grabbed me by the ear, dragged me into her kitchen and pointed to a box and spelled out “C R A C K E R S.” Then she said, “Can’t you read?” Until then, I didn’t know there was a reason to learn how to read. I was reading at a seventh grade level by the end of the summer. And I was writing short stories about Eyore, my favorite character in Winnie the Pooh.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
I was in high school. I was remembering the two weeks at youth camp in Kentucky. I was wishing I was somewhere else. I started writing in English class ( I had it first period) and continued to write a short story during every class the rest of the day. I did it in Confession Magazine style. The confession magazine rejected the story. It was only 5000 words long. This summer, I pulled it out and typed it into my computer. Now it is 140,000 words long and entitled: MY SHOTGUN WEDDING.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was on vacation with my wife and twin boys to Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York City. My twins just completed high school at the age of 26. They are autistic: Very smart and extremely autistic at the same time. While on the train ride to Philadelphia and New York City, I saw someone reading on a Kindle. I didn’t know what it was. He told me. I decided to epublish instead of waiting for someone to ‘discover” me. I have enough rejections in my closet. At least my books will be out there for someone to read, You don’t have to buy them. But at least they are out there. One of my books was held for six months by a prominent agent in Chicago. It was returned to me with the comment. That there was no point in pursuing it. I was told by the boss lady of that agent that i did not have a ‘Blockbuster mentality.” I wasn’t interested in being a best seller. I just like to tell stories. I think most of my stories have something of value to share with the reader.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I don’t know that it has. I am still writing. I haven’t spent any time marketing. I am not sure how to do marketing. And I am broke and will not pay for marketing. But Smashwords gave me their style guide and the way to move my books from Wordstar 2000, to Wordpro, to Microsoft Word 2000. And enabled me to epublish directly from my own manuscript.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Putting my feeling for people on paper, so to speak. There are a lot of people out there who have been hurt and need to be uplifted. Sometimes I can get into the characters so much that I feel their pain. There are a number of characters in each of my books that make me cry for the hurt they have experienced. As a pastor I heard a lot of stories of hurt. I met a lot of people who needed redemption and forgiveness. And sometimes they just needed to forgive someone so they could get on with their lives. There is a lot of tragedy in life. i try to help readers feel sympathy for those whose lives are so tragic and there is no hope for happiness for them. There are a lot of things that I think about that are overwhelmingly sad, but life goes on. But in the final analysis, the sun will die and life on earth will end. In the meantime, read a book. Love one another. Change the world for the better. Make a difference with your life. Don’t be a problem. Be part of the solution for all life. Not just human life.
What do your fans mean to you?
Do I have any?
What are you working on next?
I hope to have a children’s Christmas story out this year. My illustrator is busy with it. It is called: When the Dew Fell on the Okra. I have written a lot of Children’s stories that are still in longhand on wide-ruled paper. I am also working on a book of theology, but I put it aside. I want to rethink my approach. I just pulled out a sequel to Katya. I started it in 1972. It was a dream. I just never had time to finish it. It is set a thousand years in the future on another planet.
Who are your favorite authors?
Wayne D. Overholser. He wrote westerns. If I choose to read a book, it is usually a western/romance. I also like Clifford Simak. He wrote Science Fiction. There are books I have read over the years that I will read again and again. Some of the ones I read that were in a library, I can remember the story, but I can’t remember the title or the author. I would love to have a copy of some of those books. l loved the story so much and I would want to read it again sometime. There are a number of books that I continue to read again and again. But I am not fond of any recent authors at all. I am too busy writing and caring for my family.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I have to get out of bed. I have people to care for.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Right now I have to take my twins to the dentist. I will get back to this later. I mow the grass. I can build anything the doesn’t require finish carpentry. I hate to paint. I walk in the woods and the meadows with my dogs. We have two lab mixes. One Sheba Inu mix and a Coonhound mix. All are shelter dogs. The Sheba Inu interrupts my writing as much as my children. I used to love to cook, but my kids won’t eat the food. My blind, demented mother-in-law likes to eat out. so I don’t cook anymore. I do laundry. 20 loads or more per week. I pay the bills.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I don’t read ebooks. I prefer to curl up with a paperback.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
No. It was about the Winnie the Pooh characters. It was about four paragraphs long. Before I learned how to read, when I was five or six, I made up stories about Popeye the sailor, sailing the seven seas. They were musicals. I sang a lot of the story while my mother was cooking in the kitchen in the two-story house we lived in Kiagnan Mountain Province in the Philippines. I have written a musical that will probably never get produced. When I played guitar, I wrote music with chords. I wrote down the words and listed the chord above the words so I could sing them again when I practiced the guitar for worship services. But my first written story, I do not remember the details.
What is your writing process?
The first novel I epublished started as a writing exercise like we were given in creative writing in college. I gave myself an assignment. I said: Describe a process. So I sat down at the computer and described a horse coming up a mountain trail. The sounds you could hear. at the top of the trail as the horse made the climb. I intended to end it as the rider reached the top of the trail and the horse walked in the pine needles at the top and the hooves were silenced in the softness of the pine needles. But the story went on from there with the rider getting off the horse and walking over to the overlook to look back at the trail she just came up. And the rest was stream of consciousness and the novel SUMMER was born. Another story was from a dream and a desire to write about a little girl who survived a massacre. That was also stream of consciousness until I got to the part where the gambler who found the little girl is on his way to see his former boss on the ranch where he was once foreman and the little girl he saved realizes that her father is dead and the gambler who saved her is not her father. At that point, I had about a week of thinking about what happened next before I was inspired by a librarian from Australia walking toward me with a book for one of my children in 1999. Then the balance of the book was stream of consciousness again. That was my second epublication entitled: FOUNDLING.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
My mother sang to us and read to us and made up stories for us from the time I was 18 months old and she was nursing my sister. Probably the first stories I read were in the Junior Classic comic books or Disney comic books. I looked at the pictures until I was eight and learned how to read. Later I read a Jack and Jill serial about a boy who was given a gift by a man from the Andromeda Galaxy and the problems that gift caused him so he had to give it back. I liked Flash Gordon comic strip and Alley Oop, the caveman. One story from the reader I had with home schooling had a story about Robert Bruce and the Spider. It was about never giving up. I read so much after I learned how to read that I cannot pinpoint one specific story that was the first one I ever read.
How do you approach cover design?
If I could paint and draw, I would do my own covers. But I am a better impressionist than a cover artist. I try to send my illustrator a passage from the book I would like to have illustrated or the description of the character of the people I want on the cover. And I leave it up to my illustrator to give me some images that she sees in my suggestions. She sends me some and I offer suggestions on how to make it more my “cover”. It is a process.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1) I and Thou by Martin Buber. It gave me a way to relate to people and to understand people by listening and putting myself in their lives. It also convinced me that the Christian way of life was the only way to save the world from total human destruction. And I do not mean accepting Christ, but doing Christ, being Christ for the world. Love one another. Respect for all. Equality for all. Freedom to think for yourself. Freedom from religion. Freedom from oppression. To have a society based on loving your neighbor as you love yourself. I went into the ministry because of that book.
2) Radical Monotheism and Western Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr. From this book I came away with my own realization that the Bible is only a stepping stone of human evolution. We need to go beyond the Bible and continue to strive for truth. The Bible, as many human endeavors, points the way but it is not the last word. Human cultures need to move beyond the restrictions of their religion and find that in Christ their is no male or female, bond or free. We are all one and all have equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is a struggle that must continue until every woman is free to choose to be educated and free from oppression by religion or culture. That every human being has the right to think for themselves.
3) The Gospel of John. In this book of the New Testament, the reader will discover that God intended that Jesus be the first of many brothers and sisters, all children of God. And by faith, every human being is our brother or sister and a fellow child of God. And if you want to go to the ultimate: Every life form is our brother or sister, a fellow child of God, our creator. Humans are so egotistical. We are not more important than the sparrow. All life is sacred. We are sacred. We should treat one another better than we do and we should treat our planet better than we do. But human beings are so selfish and short-sighted. We will probably kill ourselves and our planet eventually. Read the Gospel of John and discover your own kinship with all life.
4) Man’s Search For Himself by Rollow May. To learn how to step outside yourself and look at the whole picture and make decisions based on your inner strength. To quote the book: (From Spinoza) “truly loving God does not involve a demand to be loved in return.” (From Rollo May) “One gives only if he has something to give, only if he has a basis of strength within himself from which to give.” We must all find our inner strength. We must all learn to love without expecting anything in return. Referring to books 1 and 2 and 3: We must become the Christ for the world. We must be willing to die to change the world. But we must not kill others. That only demeans ourselves.
5) Bunch Grass by Wayne D. Overholser. I found that I liked the romance aspect of westerns I read and being a romantic was a part of my life. And I planned to write from a point of view of love being more important than revenge or victory.
What do you read for pleasure?
I don’t read for pleasure at this time.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I do not e-read except on my computer when doing research or writing email or editing my books.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I don’t have any at the moment.
Describe your desk
Messy, Books and data disks everywhere. One of these days I might get organized.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.