I’m a day early with the holiday wishes, but I know how hectic the actual day can be and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to wish you all a very happy day filled with family and friends. It wasn’t all that long ago that my kids were at home and I would put on the feast fit for a large family. Now, most years it’s just the two of us and although I miss leftovers, there is a lot less prep and clean-up.
That being said, please help me to welcome my guest this week, Paul Landes. Father of two, husband to one and the proud owner of three loyal dogs, Paul became a new author with his debut novel ~ WINGS TO REDEMPTION. Living in northern California he has settled comfortably into the lifestyle of writing after spending a career navigating through the corporate world. He enjoys spending whatever free time he has in the outdoors whether it be fishing, skiing or just combing the beaches for washed-up surprises.
IDI – Hi Paul. It’s a busy time of year for most people, thank you for taking the time out to share a little bit about yourself and your work with my readers.
IDI – Paul, right off the bat, tell us about your Eureka moment. when did you know that you were born to be a writer?
PHL – There really was no Eureka moment, but my birth into writer-hood is one of my favorite stories and I love
sharing it. Eighteen years ago I met a certain someone and we soon discovered that we shared a hidden desire to write a novel. Without any idea as to what we were doing, we plunged into writing this book and getting to know each other at
the same time. We never did finish the book, but we got to know each other, fell in love and got married. That certain someone is Kristen, my wife and partner for life.
IDI – Was that the start to WINGS TO REDEMPTION? When did you decide to finish all of this?
PHL – Yep, we started this path together, but as so often happens, life events intervened and we put the book away with the idea of getting back to it eventually. “Eventually” happened 17 years later when I picked up the old dirt stained box and after I read through the story, I was hooked again. It tugged at me, “come finish me…come finish me…” I found a way to get the dinosaur disks converted over to modern technology and I began the whole process all over. We had written about a third of the story and we had outlined parts of the rest. I took what we had done and spent the next twelve months writing, polishing, researching and writing. During that twelve month stretch I knew that I had found a part of me that needed to be set loose. Pretty lame for a writer, but it’s hard for me to even find words to describe how much I really enjoy writing fiction. Life is pretty good right now.
IDI – Pen and paper or computer and Word? The bustle of Barnes & Noble or the quiet of your study? Alone or within a writing group? Tell us, what is your most productive/inspiring setting?
PHL – When I’m in my writing mode I can write almost anywhere and block out the distractions around me. But I do have one spot where I love to write and it has been, by far, the most productive spot for me. We have a house on the coast about 3 hours from where we live. It’s nestled in the Redwoods and near the ocean. During any typical day there, I’ll sit with my laptop and the keys seem to operate by themselves. I’ll take a break and walk with my dog on the beach and the entire time I’m thinking about a particular scene I’m writing. I’m constantly engaged in the story or with a character or maybe a new idea that I should find a way to weave in somehow. The next thing I know it’s time for breakfast and I get to do it all over again!
IDI – Are your stories plot or character driven?
PHL – That’s a tough one to answer because in so many ways they are intertwined…but, I would probably lean toward character driven. I was so lucky to find the absolute best editor in the world to help me polish my story. She pushed me very hard to develop each character, even the minor ones, in a way where the reader could feel, touch, smell, taste and hear what was happening with that person. Our senses are powerful and they drive us to do and experience so many things. I search for a way to magnify those senses so the reader can really feel the character and better understand the inner workings of that character. Here’s a quick example from the book
When she opened her eyes, she was not staring at darkness and there were no demons to torment her. Instead, she was surrounded by rainbows dancing on the horizon with dazzling beams of light trickling through the morning mist. Her eyes sparkled and her endless smile said it all
It’s fairly obvious here that sight is emphasized with the use of darkness, rainbows and beams of light. If you’ve ever wondered around in the morning mist you know that it has its own unique smell and the touch against your skin can be unforgettable. This is what Nancy pushed me to do throughout the book—make things real so that the readers’ senses are heightened to their fullest.
IDI – What was the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?
PHL – I know I’ve certainly ignored some great advice over the years, unfortunately, but I do remember someone who said something to me years ago that went a long way in helping me realize my dream to someday write a novel. Years ago, when Kristen and I “thought” we had written enough and that any minute some publisher would swoop in and grab our story, we were lucky to get an audience with John Lescroart. John is one of those big-time successful writers and he just happens to be one of my favorites. He told me back then that as a first time author I would need to write every single word of the story myself and be prepared to defend every single word. That wasn’t what I expected to hear, no, I thought he was going to introduce us to a publisher and we’d be on our way. Those words really stuck with me. Once during the 17 years that the story was tucked away I took it out and looked at it. His words echoed in my head and I knew I wasn’t going to finish the story at that time. When I finally did jump into it there were times when I’d get stuck or maybe disillusioned some, but his words kept bouncing back…you need to write every single word yourself. I give John full credit in getting me through some rough spots and ultimately becoming a published author in my own rite.
IDI – When reading another author, do you find yourself taking in what you read or are you more likely to critique as you go? And if so, what is the one thing you see the most?
PHL – Probably a bit of each. When I read something that just knocks my socks off I try to imagine how that author could possibly weave those words in such an artful fashion. I remember re-reading Melville’s Moby Dick a few years ago and I was so intimidated after reading just one page. I know he’s a different genre, a different style and of course one of the great all-time greats, but still. Here’s what I mean…”I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It’s a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation.” Now when I read something like that, well, yes it is a bit intimidating, but it also makes me go back and look at what I’ve written. Can I make it better? Can I say it a differently? Can I shorten things and get a better effect?
IDI – Let’s get into your book, WINGS TO REDEMPTION. Tell us about the story and what genre it fits into?
PHL – I have a one-liner that perfectly describes the story – a fast paced romantic “who-done-it” techno-thriller. That covers a lot of territory, but I classify it as a romantic thriller. The main character in the story is Alex Boudreau and unfortunately I can’t reveal much about Alex here. Alex’s real identity is unveiled in the early chapters and so I have described Alex in rather vague terms in the book jacket and other materials. I’m betting most of the readers will have a sheepish smile when they find out about Alex’s true identity. So, my story has two people who meet in a predator-prey type situation and although they’ve led polar opposite lives, they have parallel psychological scars that they’ve each dealt with very differently over the years. It makes for an interesting push – pull type of relationship. While that relationship plays out, or not, the reader will travel through the world of corporate espionage and discover some cutting-edge and forward thinking ways to hack computers and they’ll be introduced to the creation of a weapons-grade virus that poses catastrophic consequences. I love the ending too and I’ll tell you I didn’t see that one coming myself until one of the later re-writes.
IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished writers?
PHL – To steal a line from Nike—Just Do It. One of the dedications in the book reads “To all those who dream of writing their first novel, make your dreams your reality.” It has now happened to me and it can certainly happen to so many others. One of the things I always discuss at my book signings is this very topic. I’ll ask “Who here has not harbored a dream about writing their own novel or maybe a memoir or a how-to book? By phrasing it in the negative, I have yet to see anyone raise their hand. You don’t have to write a 400 page great American novel to be an author and to experience the euphoria of writing. No, just set aside some quiet time and write. Before you know it your thoughts will blend with your pen and you’re on your way.
IDI – I believe (in part) that writing is like being schizophrenic without the personalities coming out verbally. Seriously, we ‘become’ the characters 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, to a degree? Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?
PHL – Oh I totally agree. Not only do we become immersed in our characters, but I’ve actually found that my whole outlook on so many things has changed. I love to sit in a coffee shop or similar place and people watch. I pick someone out and mentally begin describing them. I’ll run through each of the five senses and see how I can best present them. Can I tie something together in a single sentence like “she slouched back in her chair, curled her numb fingers around the steaming porcelain mug and felt her fingertips tingle as they slowly thawed.” I’ll do the same with the fall leaves, wet Eucalyptus trees, pounding ocean waves, the sound of a car backfiring. I’m not writing things down, but my mind churns through the different ways to express things in a visual and unique way. So I think that living and breathing the lives of our characters is a necessary part of the creative experience. I’ve talked to some actor friends about this very same thing and it’s the same in their line of work, as well.
IDI – If I were to give you only ten seconds to convince me to read WINGS TO REDEMPTION, what would you say?
PHL – If your spirit is teeming with romance, if you’re hypnotized by international intrigue, if you love to figure out “who-done-it” thrillers, then this story will captivate your heart and mind and keep you sitting on the edge of your seat. Guaranteed!!
IDI – I like that! Paul, thank you for appearing on Ink Drop Interviews with me today. I’d like to leave our readers with a little more information about your book, WINGS TO REDEMPTION, and share the synopsis on your back cover, if you don’t mind.
PHL – I would love that and thank you, Kathy. I’ve enjoyed the chance to share my new-found life with you and your readers. In closing, I would just like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Alex Boudreau has been trained to win…at any cost. Lured by a sacred trust back into a life of stealth and undercover thievery, Alex confronts a tormented past laced with guilt, self-proclaimed failure and deception. Faced with gripping, split-second decisions that would forever shape the future, Alex plunges, once again, into the world of corporate intrigue, greed and deceit. After stealing a top-secret genetically engineered drug, Alex discovers the stolen information contains the specs to create a viral weapon – a weapon designed to threaten the world. Now the target of cold, calculating men with unlimited resources, nerves and wits are the only weapons available to unearth the identity of these men who are determined to kill not only Alex, but millions of others.
This Alex Boudreau adventure is filled with cutting-edge technology and riveting conflicts entwined with deep passion, conspiracies and spiraling twists.
Author: Paul H Landes
Publisher: Hunter and Gatherer Publishing Company
Number of Pages: 368
Release Date: October 23, 2012
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