I’m always thrilled when I have the opportunity to welcome back an author I’ve spoken with in the past and that usually happens when they have a new release, a tribute to their diligence and hard work. Today, I welcome back Paul H. Landes. I spoke with Paul three years ago, after his debut novel Wings to Redemption came out.
IDI – Paul, it’s great to talk with you again.
Your books have a lot of technical descriptions when talking about a genetically engineered virus, computer hacking and even, in Convergent 9.0, the ancient samurai customs in Japan. Do you do a lot of research?
PHL – Oh, yes, and it’s endless. My scientific aptitude is zip, nada. Fortunately, I live in a college town where the number of PhD’s rival any town in the country. Dr. Murray Gardner is a professor emeritus at our local university and has achieved international notoriety in his own right. He was part of the team that discovered the Aids virus, and this is a good story, he was the first person who brought that virus back to the States for research purposes. He put the virus in a vial and flew half way around the world with it—stuck in his pocket. Anyway, Murray worked tirelessly with me to create a virus that borders on reality and he worked with me on countless drafts helping me to write about it so even a layperson, like myself, could understand what was going on. For me, finding someone who is an expert in their field is the best place to undertake your research. I’ve thanked each of these “pros” in my acknowledgement in each book.
IDI – What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing? Ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?
PHL – When I write, I’m 100% absorbed in my story and it consumes most of my time. I have a pretty busy life outside of my writing, so if I’m off doing something else I’m oftentimes unable to separate myself from whatever scene has grabbed a hold of my mind. A few months back when I was putting the final pieces together for Convergent 9.0, I had decided to move a few scenes around and make a major change in the plot. Needless to say, my mind was locked tight around the story. It just so happened that we had some friends coming to town and we were heading off to the coast for a trip we had planned for months. My wife has become accustomed to this mind-set and she knew exactly where I was at the time. “How much time do you need?” I told her just one day, a whole day. She took care of the rest and I met them all a day later, but my mind was clear.
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?
PHL – Plenty. The characters are developed with my imagination, yet I draw from people I’ve known, places I’ve been or, simply, events that have fascinated me. My life has been fast paced, unpredictable, living on the edge, yet filled with love, pride and unending happiness. That’s all a part of my stories and when a reader finishes with it, they know a great deal about me.
IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?
PHL – Not enough at this point. When my first book, Wings to Redemption, came out, I spent four solid months, nonstop, on every social media site I could find and I ran around doing readings at well over a dozen bookstores. I hit five states in total. The results definitely showed and I sold more books in that time than I would’ve ever dreamt. But, as you know, that can be exhausting and take away from your real life priorities. That caused me to reevaluate my goals as a writer and I now spread my marketing time out over a longer period of time. My real desire, as a writer, is to pen good books, books that entertain people, books they can enjoy and remember. To me, that’s more important than reaching a sales milestone.
IBD – That’s sound advice.
Favorite author, and why?
PHL – Hemingway, hands down. His understated and lean style influenced so many of 20th Century writers, but to me, it was the experiences he encountered in his tumultuous, but exciting life. A journalist; a war correspondent; a young author living in Paris at a time when the city was undergoing a new renaissance in art and literature; winters in Key West and summers in Wyoming. He had a tragic end to his life for sure, but it was a life he led with unbridled passion.
IDI – Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
PHL – My wife, by far. The original creation of my first novel, Wings to Redemption, is how I met Kristen, my wife, and how I became an author. Within weeks after we first met we asked each other the question, “What would you like to accomplish that you haven’t yet accomplished?” It turned out that we both had a secret desire to write a novel so, we began. For four months we conspired, dreamed and wrote together and throughout that process we fell in love. The book idea was eventually shelved, but we became engaged and soon married. Oh, and that was twenty-one years ago almost to this day when we started the book… a pretty happy ending. Seventeen years later, I finished the book and she continued on with her career. She continues to support everything I do as a writer. I’d be remiss to not mention my swim pals. I’m a member of a masters swimming team where I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many of the PhD’s who have stepped forward to help me out anytime I’ve asked.
IDI – How long does it generally take you to write a book, from the spark of an idea to the finished product?
PHL – I try to get a finished product out in roughly a year and so far, I’m close to being on schedule. I’ll start off with a general idea and usually I don’t have a clue where I’m going. Things develop as I write and edit and as I talk to the experts in those particular fields. When I hit times where my creativity is on the down curve, I may pick a chapter and edit and rework it so that it’s close to the finished product. After I read my finished product it pumps me up and usually throws me back into a writing mode. I do the same thing if I just wrote a chapter that I really like – I’ll spend the extra time polishing it up. You know, in my first book I thought I had written the absolute greatest novel ever written, but I spent seven months working with my editor and when we were done it was as if I had totally rewritten the book, which, thanks to her, I had. She’s taught me so much that our final editing time now is down to around two months. At this point, I take just as much pride in editing as I do in creating the manuscript.
IDI – One last question. What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, something to look forward to?
PHL – Convergent 9.0 is the final book in the Alex Boudreau Adventure, but it’s by no means the last of Alex. In Convergent 9.0, I’ve introduced a new character who will take me into some areas that I’m chomping at the bit to explore. I’ve had long discussions with friends involved with the prison system. I’m going to take a prison gang and show how they begin to legitimize their business interests, much like the mafia had done. At the same time, they’re funneling contributions to politicians so that they can maintain the status quo. Their motto is, if you control the inside you control the outside. They want to keep it that way. There’s much more to the story like, addressing the fact that China has been illegally harvesting human organs for years and I’ll get into the ethical dilemmas faced by journalists. Of course, Alex will make more than just a cameo appearance.
IDI – Thank you, Paul. It’s been a pleasure talking with you again.
For more on Paul and his work, visit him here: