It’s hard to say what makes us pick up one book and pass by another. Or why we can remember one author and the name of another escapes us. It may be the cover of the book that grabs our attention, the blurb, or possibly a recommendation from a friend. Those are some of the reasons we choose one book/writer over another, but why do they stay with us? In writing, as in life, it’s the X-factor. Voice, style, and the ability to stand out in an ever-growing crowd.
Paul Brazill exemplifies exactly that – the X-factor. His answers are fresh and funny, and his photo… well, in my opinion, it portrays most people’s assumptions of a writer. I love it! (It doesn’t hurt that it looks a little John Cusack-ish, either!)
Please help me to welcome Paul Brazill, a talented author and editor of DRUNK ON THE MOON and TRUE BRIT GRIT.
IDI – Paul, you’re English but have lived in Poland for ten years. Do you think living in self-imposed exile has helped your writing?
PB – I think I’ve always been like that Gang of Four song, ‘At Home I Feel Like A Tourist’. I’m naturally discombobulated! But living abroad certainly helps give a different perspective! It helps dig up the dirt from my past!
IDI – Tell us, within your writing, what are you the most passionate about? What is it that keeps the fire burning?
PB – Because I don’t plan anything I write, I really like the moment when the writing starts to lead itself and have a life of its own. Then I have an idea of how the story is probably going to develop. Have an idea of its shape. I like to be surprised. Pleasantly, at least!
IDI – When did you know that you were born to be a writer?
PB – Oh, I don’t really consider myself a writer. Writing is something that I do but so is breathing. In fact I breathe a lot more than I write, so maybe I’m a breather!
To be honest, I’ve always been dubious about people defining all the myriad aspects of themselves by their job. And writing isn’t even my job. It certainly doesn’t keep a roof over my head!
Although, when Maxim Jakubowski accepted one of my stories for The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime, it certainly made me feel like I wasn’t wasting my or other people’s time! Perhaps then I kidded myself that I was ‘a writer’!
IDI – Are your stories plot or character driven?
PB – Word, sound, smell, colour, image driven. Turn of phrase driven. And, certainly more character than plot driven.
I really admire well put together plots, though, because it’s something I’m a bit weak at. I’m working on it, mind you.
IDI – I tell people I’m either creative or a pathological liar when they ask me why I write! Actually, I think (in part) that writing is almost like being schizophrenic, but without the personalities coming out verbally. Seriously, we ‘become’ the people we write, at least for a time. We have to feel what they feel, think what they think and know what they know… so how can we not ‘be’ them? Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?
I actually think the activity of writing works like all addictive behavior in that it allows us to reach a ‘trance state’. To step outside ourselves. That’s my pretentious thought for the day!
IDI – I totally agree with your ‘pretentious thought’. Stepping outside ourselves is a great way to describe what happens when a writer is ‘creating’.
Who is your favorite author, and why?
PB – Far too many, but over the years, Patricia Highsmith, Jim Thompson, Elmore Leonard, Kurt Vonnegut, Damon Runyon and Charles Bukowski have given a lot of pleasure. More recently, Les Edgerton, Ray Banks and Declan Burke come to mind. I like the cut of their jib, basically. They’ve got personality. Personality goes a long way.
IDI – Who’s your target audience?
PB – Ingrates, misfits, oddball, the dispossessed. Waifs and strays. The flotsam and jetsam of life. Preferably with lots of money to squander on books.
IDI – I love that answer!
Everyone has their own dream. What’s yours… best seller, feature film adaption, fame, riches, Oprah, Pulitzer?
PB – I’d like to write a musical and win a Tony. I can see me going all Auntie Mame! No, really!
IDI – I’ve asked a lot of people that question and you are the first person to give that answer. Interesting!
I know I have ideas that cross over the lines of my usual genre. do you have any such ideas wandering around and if so, what’s your outlook on genre crossing?
PB – I think genre crossing is a great thing. Most of us have a varied palate and mixing up genres in particular is great fun. Genre definition is the salesman’s problem, anyway.
One of my most popular creations is the noir/horror series, Drunk on the Moon.
The genre mash-up suits these sordid, post-modern times because we all know that nothing is pure!
IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
PB – I think a lot of writers mistakenly believe that it is a benevolent service as opposed to a business. Which is more than a tad naive. They obviously don’t get out much.
IDI – You co-edited the charity anthology TRUE BRIT GRIT. What is Brit Grit?
PB – Brit Grit is a strand of British crime fiction that has a strong social realist element to it and takes an unflinching look at society and/ or the human condition, Graham Greene was Brit Grit. Agatha Christie wasn’t!
This is Brit Grit
IDI – What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing? Ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing….
PB – Procrastination is ‘my thing’ and I do have problems staring projects but I wouldn’t say it was exceptionally hard. It’s not like working down a mine!
IDI – What’s in the cards?
PB – Guns Of Brixton, a Brit Grit comedy. It should be out some time this year. And lots of stories in anthologies.
IDI – Paul, thank you. It has truly been my pleasure having you here today. I wish you the very best and can’t wait to read DRUNK ON THE MOON!
Thank you for joining me.
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