Welcome Paul! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in a mining town in a remote part of Western Australia. The landscape was vast, dry, hot and sometimes ravaged by cyclones. It was a place that stretched you — at night the stars were bright enough to read by and the days shone down on a landscape as huge and flat as the ocean. It taught me to think and imagine.
After the mine closed we moved to a port town in the wheat-belt, and there I discovered a second hand bookshop that became my home away from home. The place was run by a tyrannical proprietor who genuinely didn’t like customers, but for some reason we got along. That was where my love of books was born.
These days I live in Melbourne, where I spend my time writing. I’m currently working as scriptwriter on a kids’ animation for an Australian/Canadian television production, writing my next novel and building my blog, http://cerullean.net
You've had an unconventional path as an author, though it seems you've always been in creative fields. What inspired you to write?
I’ve always been drawn to the screen, whether TV or Film, and of course, books. I pursued the film and television aspect first, as I love the collaborative nature of production. It’s amazing to be part of the process of getting a story to screen, as it involves so many creative people. It’s not easy, and often the deadlines are insane and the pressure high, but the payoff is just as high.
Writing for readers is a whole different thing. It’s an intimate experience, a dialogue between you and the person reading your work. Since writing Undreamed, I decided that I love being an author just as much as my other work and will continue on.
What inspires me to write? Like so many writers, I can’t not write - it’s a kind of compulsion. There are scenarios, people, snatches of conversions or glimpses of places that I need to follow and discover more about. I never sit down and decide to write a story about a subject - it’s more like getting mugged at 3am by a random thought that grows and takes your imagination hostage. My Muse is a contrary bugger and whispers ‘what ifs’ all day long.
What about your process - are you a pantser or a plotter?
I used to be a compulsive plotter, a consequence of my TV background, where stories are progressed through very well defined and rigorous approval stages. When I plotted in detail my first attempt at a novel (as yet unfinished) by the end I felt that I’d already written it and that the story no longer held much interest.
These days I like to sketch the chapters and general structure of the novel but leave enough room for surprises, just to keep it interesting.
Tell us a little about your first novel, Undreamed. Where did this story come from?
Undreamed is a dark Psychological Thriller, telling the story of Alice, a woman trapped in a dream. The story began with that timeless old chestnut: how do we know what’s real? If you think about it long enough it can get under your skin, but ultimately (most) of us end up saying, interesting question, but the answer’s irrelevant. Real or not, this is the only life I’ve got, so I’ll just get on with it. But what if it wasn’t? What if when you went to sleep you ‘woke’ up into another life, and couldn’t tell the difference between waking and sleeping. This is what happens to the hero of the story, Alice. For her, it’s not a mind game. She doesn’t have one life, but two, and one of them is a lie.
Undreamed had a strange origin. It began life as a ‘spec’ screenplay called ‘Butterfly Dreams’ I wrote many years ago. On completing it I was lucky enough to get the attention of a Director and we entered a period of intense reviews and rewrites. By the end of about six months of this, the story was a very different creature to the original. Figuring I hit a dead end, we both moved on to different projects and so the story was parked for a number of years.
Half a decade later I was chatting about the premise to a special effects guy and he told me he couldn’t wait to read the book. Book, I thought. Yes, I’ll get round to that. It really was like that. Two years later, I published the book. Like a lot of good ideas, it was staring me in the face but it took someone else to point it out. The moral of this story is always talk to special effects guys: they’re weird but insightful.
What have you learned on your publishing journey? What marketing advice can you recommend for new authors?
Don’t expect things to happen quickly. Some wit remarked that writing the book is the easy part, and yes, I’d have to agree. I can’t speak for traditionally published authors, but for Indies, marketing is a long haul. There are things that can be done to spike the public’s attention, such as blog tours, giveaways etc but for me, the focus is on finding genuine reviews and generating word of mouth.
As to advice: be open, communicate freely, be yourself, have a focus. There are so many tools and platforms that the whole process can be daunting. I’d suggest focusing on one or two that work for you and maximise them. For example, I use Twitter as my primary communication tool: it’s great for meeting new people and broadcasting any news. Twitter links to my blog, facebook page etc.
What's next for you?
I’m working on a serialised Urban Fantasy called ‘The Transcendents’ Our planet is slowly being unmade by an ancient magic gone toxic, and the only mages powerful enough to stop this are destroying one another in a blood feud. The Transcendents tells the story of Nick Lejune, the first Transcendent mage born in two generations and how he must unravel bitter lies and betrayals in order to save not only himself, but the world.
The Transcendents will be a serialised novel of six episodes around ten chapters each. I’ve never written a serialised novel before, and it’s fascinating discovering the right pace and voice. The Transcendents is dark, magical and fast.
Sounds like you'll have your hands full over the next few months. It's been great chatting with you -- thanks so much for stopping by Paul!
Many thanks ST, I appreciate the opportunity.
You can see book trailers for UNDREAMED here, here, or here. And if you like what you see, be sure to pick up a copy on Amazon or add UNDREAMED to your Goodreads pile.
Alice is trapped in a nightmare. She leads two lives, both real to her, both flawless in their logic and texture, both filled with people that she loves and hates. One of these is a dream. She has no way of knowing which. A borderline junkie heiress in Manhattan, or a recovering psych patient in Sydney, when Alice sleeps in one life, she wakes into the other. Other than her own memory of them, her worlds are separate and seamless. In both her lives she tries to find clues to discover the root of her sickness, but nothing crosses over. She may as well be two completely different people. Caught in this impossible status quo, never able to bring herself to believe that the life she’s leading is true, Alice is trapped. Not believing either, she believes nothing. Then one day, her lives are fractured when something does cross over. First in Sydney then Manhattan, Alice meets a girl dressed in green. She knows this girl for what she is: the key to her escape.
But as she unravels the girl’s secret, the realities of not one but both lives are challenged.
The question becomes: who is it that she’s really waking?
You can find Paul at the following links:
Amazon author page: http://amazon.com/author/paulwesternpittard