Paul: First of all, I’d like to thank you, Ester, for allowing me to be on your blog. Even though this is all done through the magic of the Internet, it’s still exciting for me, nonetheless. I’ve been writing on and off for nearly 20 years now. I started off writing long hand, moved to a Brothers Word processor, then got into the big time with a home built computer that had the astounding power of a 486 processor. My PC today could power the Starship Enterprise by comparison to my first computer.
Ester: You’ve come a long way, then. How did you get started in writing?
Paul: I took a couple of creative writing classes in college but didn’t do much with it. Years later, my brother got me started in writing and has been encouraging me ever since.
Ester: What genres do you write in, Paul, and why did you choose them.
Paul: They say to write what you know. I grew up on Star Trek and Star Wars, so I started writing science fiction. I really enjoyed sci-fi because the only limits to your story were your own imagination. If you wanted to make the sky green or have a three-legged creature, then so be it. I wrote one sci-fi story located on a vast desert planet and shifted to my current genre of action/adventure.
Ester: I love sci-fi as well. What was your first published work and how did you get published the first time?
Paul: My first paying writing job was a monthly humor column for allpets.com. I would write about such great petting events as snail racing or other wacky pets in the news.
Ester: And your first book?
Paul: CATALYST is my only published novel at the moment, but I have two other action/adventure stories ready for submission, and a graphic novel ready to go as well. So I have several pans in the fire, just waiting for the ‘cooking’ to start.
Ester: Sounds like you’ve been busy. Do you have an agent?
Paul: Right now I don’t have an agent but am looking for one to help me move to the next level.
Ester: Who or what influences your writing?
Paul: As I said earlier, my brother, Mark, has been a great influence on my getting into writing and in keeping me in the business. As far as writing styles, I like the early Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler. Dean Koontz also paints wonderful word pictures and the late Michael Crichton is also an inspiration.
Ester: All great authors as well. What do you think is the hardest part of writing?
Paul: One of the tougher problems I have is picking out the right names for the characters in my stories. In CATALYST, I didn’t take the time I should have. In my latest work, I took a great deal more time to make sure the good guy and the bad guy have just the right sounding names, that they fit the story and who they are.
Ester: I know what you mean. Do you have a writing ritual or quirk?
Paul: I circle my desk, walking backwards three times then make sure my tray table is in the upright and locked position. Just kidding! Really, the only habit that I have is that I like to drink coffee when I write. In fact, I’m having some now!
Ester: Me, too. What publishing house are you working with now?
Paul: Right now, CATALYST is published through Variance, who bought out Breakneck Books.
Ester: Did they let you keep the title you chose for your book?
Paul: The original working title of CATALYST was RED LIGHT LADY. On the advice of my editor, I decided to change the name to CATALYST, which better suits the story.
Ester: I think I like it better as well. I like your cover, by the way. Did you have a say in it?
Paul: Andy Wenner is the artist who designed my book cover. I gave him the basic idea of what I was looking for and he took it from there. And as you can see, he did a fantastic job!
Ester: I agree. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Paul: A writer writes! Just keep at it even if it’s only for five minutes a day. And once you’ve finished writing, don’t be afraid to edit your work. Believe it or not, everything written down is not great “pearls of wisdom.” For CATALYST, I ended up cutting about 70 pages from the book because they just didn’t add anything to the story. Remember, it’s all about what makes sense for the story, not just because you like it.
Ester: How did you celebrate your first contract?
Paul: It took awhile for it to sink in that I was really a published author. I think my wife and I went out to Red Lobster for dinner. I went all out and had the ultimate feast, I think.
Ester: Do you write full-time?
Paul: I still have a full-time job and write part-time, but look forward to the day when I can devote all my time to writing. If it weren’t for minor details like food and rent, I’d quit now.
Ester: Can you tell us a little about CATALYST?
Paul: In the waning months of World War II, the allied armies advance upon the crumbling German war machine like a juggernaut. In a final desperate bid to save the Fatherland, a plan is conceived that could turn the tide of the war-the completion of an advanced jet-propelled bomber capable of delivering a deadly payload to shores of America.
Captain Griff Avery of the OSS has just botched the defection of a prominent German physicist, a man crucial to the Nazi end game, letting him fall into the hands of the rogue SS General masterminding the plot. But Avery’s troubles have only just begin: overwhelming evidence points to the woman he loves as the German spy who foiled the defection.
Now under suspicion himself, Avery sifts through the lies and deceit, uncovering the treacherous German operation. Against orders and on the run, Avery is forced to wage a secret war of his own, recruiting the crew of a B-17 Flying Fortress and a reckless group of flyboys and their P-51 Mustangs to help him hunt down the secret SS cell and prevent the slaughter–no matter what the cost.
Ester: That sounds like an interesting read. Thank you, Paul, for taking time to chat with me today. For more information on Paul’s latest works, check out his website: www.paulbyersonline.com. Paul is married with two sons and a daughter. He spends his free time in Seattle, building models. He enjoys WWII era aircraft and likes the steel ships from the turn of the century. You can also find him online playing Warbirds.