Paul West appears on the website of UK reviewer Daniel Cann! Click this link for the interview or just read below. Many thanks to Mr. Cann for his thoughtful interview!
|Q and A with Paul West|
|Written by Daniel Cann|
|Wednesday, 14 March 2012|
|I have recently read the science fiction thriller ‘First Cause’ by first time author Paul West. He has very kindly agreed to be interviewed for my blog. To learn more read on…Could you tell my readers a little about yourself?Well, I’m a NYC native, and I’m happy to say I’m still here! I’m a big sports fan and music lover–I wish I made it more concerts and games!–and a pretty big history geek. I’m a bit of a social butterfly, but I don’t consider myself an extrovert; I can actually be pretty shy in social situations, until I get a chance to read the flow.Who or what inspired you to be a writer?The funny thing is, if you’d told me at 18 that I was going to be an author, I’d have said there’s no chance! But when I transferred back to NYU, I switched my major to history, and I opened up socially and my sense of the world grew exponentially. I’ve said this in other places, but First Cause actually was originally a screenplay that I came up with when I was about 20; it wasn’t even inspired by wanting to make movies, so much as it was inspired by my interest in the human condition.
Luckily, I realized at the time that I wasn’t quite ready to properly explore the story in a way that would have done it justice; I kept the notes, and about 8 years later I dug them out and began drafting the plot lines. What’s also funny is that my first attempts at creative writing, were flops; they weren’t particularly good, mainly due to lack of confidence. I was mainly an essayist and critical writer until my mid 20s.
Which authors interest and inspire you?
One of my earliest ‘literary’ influences, believe it or not, was Stephen King. He’s been super prolific, and a lot of his output has been disappointing, so conventional wisdom sometimes fails to acknowledge some of the great things he’s done–but at his best, his writing is thoughtful, engaging, introspective and fluidly delivered, along with being downright scary. It was one of the first books I read twice as a young adult; despite the fact that I’m not a big fan of the ending, there are aspects of storytelling in that book that rival just about anything else I’ve ever read.
Aside from that, George Orwell’s ‘1984’ is one of the most truly timeless novels I’ve ever read. As for more recent writer, I’d have to say Margaret Atwood is my favorite living author; to me, she really embodies the potential of speculative fiction as a vehicle for contemplating the human condition. And despite her categorizations, the topics and issues and dynamics she addresses can be applied to a wide range of situations and people. Other authors I find interesting are Jose Saramago, Ursula LeGuin, Cormack McCarthy (despite his unnerving use of punctuation) and Octavia Butler. Sinclair Lewis‘ ‘It Can’t Happen Here’ is also a book I think everyone should read.
What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?
Make sure you feel somewhat sure of WHY you write. And take your time.
How many hours a day do you actually spend writing? (Do you have a set routine?)
That varies; I’m very much a processor, so even when I’m writing a lot, I spend a lot of time pre-writing and game-planning. When I’m writing my best stuff, it writes itself after a whole lot of processing.
Who is your favourite fictional character?
Wow…that’s a really tough one. Can’t say I have one!
Which character/s from your novel ’First Cause’ do you relate to or enjoy writing about the most?
I’d say that there are parts of me in several of the main characters, including Adam, Angela, Cyrus, Bob, and Jim. They, and a few others, also include elements of people who’ve been close to me or influenced me in some way over the years. As for who I enjoy writing about the most? That’s hard to say. I think it’ll be interesting to continue to write more about the Terranauts’ backstory, in the second book.
What do you expect your readership to get out of your stories?
I don’t necessarily expect them to get any particular thing, though there are certain intellectual positions of mine that I think are evident to a sharp reader. The biggest thing I’d like, aside from the reader enjoying the ride, is that people be inspired to rethink their casual attitudes (to paraphrase Ms. Atwood) about the human condition and human potential.
What can your fans expect from you in the future?
There’s definitely a second book in the works, and since it’s a trilogy, eventually there will be a third! 🙂 I was just added as a literary guest to Fandom Fest, a speculative fiction convention that’ll be in Louisville, Kentucky this summer. I’m about to release First Cause fan paraphernalia–especially t-shirts, one of which I just wore to the gym, which I think turned out kinda cool! I’m also about to kick off a reading/signing tour, so if anyone knows of a local bookstore that would like to join the tour, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I understand you also enjoy screenwriting. If ‘First Cause’ were adapted into a movie, who would you like to see starring in it? And who would you like to direct it?
I’m not a screenwriter just yet, but I’ve been told that First Cause would make a good movie–which is cool, since it began as a screenplay idea! I have NO idea who would play any of the characters. As for who’d direct it–Danny Boyle is always my answer to that question. Mr. Boyle, if you’re reading this…
Do you have any other hobbies outside of writing?
I play a lot of team sports, and I’m pretty good at a bunch of them; if it involves projectiles, there’s a decent chance I’ve given it a shot. I also read a good bit, fiction and non-fiction alike, though I’m somewhat streaky about how much reading I actually get accomplished.
What do you hope to achieve as a writer?
I’d love to be able to live from my craft, inspire people to think, and maybe gain some critical acclaim. I tend to be a bit sceptical of awards, but I was respected by people who consider themselves literate, that’d be nice.
Thank you very much for your time Paul.