As much as I enjoy helping out new Indie authors with connecting their work to readers, occasionally, I have the opportunity to re-interview an author who has gone on to write subsequent books, as is the case today.
Paul Kestell appeared on Ink Drop Interviews back in January of 2012, just about the time his second novel, Wood Point, was released. At the time, he also had a novel called, Viareggio, out and was in the process of releasing, The Fushcia Walk, the first in his Hamilton Row collection. Since then, he has released, The Mad Mary’s of Dunworley (and Other Stories), and is working on the follow-up to that, The West Cork Railway (and Other Stories). Along with his writing, I happen to know that he has also been in the process of moving! Please help me to welcome a very talented and busy man, Paul Kestell…
IDI – It’s nice to talk to you again, Paul.
PK – It’s great to be back.
IDI – First, can you tell us a little about what you’re working on now?
PK – I am working on the follow up to the ‘Mad Marys,’ this is called ‘The West Cork Railway and Other Stories.’ I watch the rain fall in sheets over the fields, cleansing green. It comes from the summit of Cuckoo Hill, all rains and gullies, and my eyes are wells. I long to be there, to stand alone and let it reach me, to cleanse my soul, my sinner soul that has sent me here. Aye, for all its beauty this is a desperate place, with the wind and rain howling in my ear and the strange voices raging in my head. It is easily said that I should rage back, but it is what the gods have sent me, and all the beauty of this landscape can’t change that. No, not the sounds of the birds or the silent rabbit foraging, nor the crow banger or the silence when the wind stops. For I am a woman and I want to scream at this wilderness! Listen to me cry with a whimper. Each morning as you wake you hear me cry faintly, whimper. You hear me cry to you.
[From the ‘Sad Lady of Lislee’.] We are listening to the voice of a young woman with non-verbal autism.
IDI – When did you know that you were born to be a writer?
PK – I always knew even before I could speak I was recording everything through my little eyes—my Dad used ask me if I would write him a play when I was about ten—I think my parents knew also.
IDI – What works for you? Give us a rundown of your writing process.
PK – I don’t have any set routine—I tend to work when I can grab some peace—I often would write through the night but rest till lunchtime the following day. I don’t write things down like notes etc—no I store things in my head and I would use the internet for reference. I am very much a head down merchant and I set my own deadlines—but the main thing I do is I finish my projects once started and I can write long manuscripts and sometimes discard them only to write the story again but this time much shorter. I then send my work away for edit and then read them over and over and often undo the editors work—I think perhaps the last person to see my work before publication should be the editor—but there you go!
IDI – This is what some have said to be a controversial question. What are your thoughts on Amazon and the reviewing process they use. How much trust do you put into the reviews posted for any given book?
PK – I think it is flawed and most people know that, many reviews are posted by friends of the author or even by the author themselves—maybe they should only allow authors post reviews from the established press—but having said that the ‘Mad Marys,’ got a review from some woman I didn’t know—she kept it short and simple but it was really positive.
IDI – How important are your reading habits to your writing habits?
PK – Not important at all save for I totally copied Hemingway’s style to use in my dialogue for my new book—sure he won’t mind it isn’t plagiarism it is borrowing from a master.
IDI – Who is your target audience and why do you feel your writing targets them specifically?
PK – My target audience is the disillusioned disaffected and angry mob who have rejected capitalism as an ideology and who are willing to plot to overthrow it, also all that should feel like that but don’t either through ignorance or blissful apathy—this could explain why I sell so few books as every line I write screams my passion!
IDI – Favorite author, and why?
PK – I don’t read any of the modern Irish authors they tend to be ultra-conservative the published ones that is—no I still like Joyce for his fuck you attitude he grabbed humanity by the throat and squeezed the life out of it.
IDI – There is a lot of commotion about the effect ebooks are having on brick and mortar booksellers. Do you think ebooks have reached their climax or do you believe they still have room to expand in the market?
PK – I think E-books are great and they have unlimited potential I just wish I could make the breakthrough and sell thousands of them—traditional bookstores will have to adapt and get rid of their elitist scholarly image—there is too much snobbery attached to writing—writers are just as human as anyone else there is nothing special about us.
IDI – We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?
PK – I put loads of myself in my books—I am usually the hero or perhaps the handsome stranger that makes some telling comment—my characters tend to end up seeing the world as I do whether they like it or not.
IDI – How much time/effort to you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?
PK – Very little—I tweet good reviews and I tweet my Amazon links but it doesn’t work at all—yeah I get noticed but even after a great recent review I didn’t sell one extra copy on Amazon—so hard to say if it is worth it.
IDI – Why do you bring politics to your books?
PK – I believe politics is in everything we do—it surrounds us and dictates not only the kind of house we live in but where we live and why our cities and towns are the way they are. I have just recently moved from a quiet fishing village in rural Ireland back to Dublin—to be greeted by fast food chains and shopping outlets that could be anywhere in the world. I switch on the television news to find that it is biased and pro-government—my world is being eaten alive slowly by neoliberalism so I write about that—and it is an ill wind that is blowing.
IDI – Do you believe that you and your books will become famous?
PK – You would never know because life is full of little twists and turns—what is popular now may not be popular in years to come. I think my stories are very visual and would make very good television or film scripts—but they certainly aren’t popular in the commercial sense. I hope to branch out and write some screenplays in the near future—I have no ambition to be wealthy but I guess I would love to sell enough books to support a modest lifestyle.
IDI – You’re right, Paul. We never know what lies ahead. I wish you all the best with your writing and hope to see you back on Ink Drop Interviews with yet another book in the future. It was very nice to work with you again.
Here is a link to one of Paul’s reviews from ‘The Irish World’ on August 9, 2014 – Paul Kestell Irish World Marys Review