Happy Release Day To Paul A. Shortt

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Happy Release Day! 

Welcome back to the blog! I looked back at your first interview from August of 2011. So much has changed for you since then!

Thanks for having me again! Yeah, things have come along a lot. It's been a really exciting time.

First, tell us about Locked Within.

Did the inspiration for this book come from any particular source? 

I had seen an increase in the amount of books where the hero was some powerful supernatural creature. I wanted to try something different, where the hero was just a man. Sure, Nathan Shepherd gains knowledge from past lives through the course of the book, and learns how to harness the power of being reborn, but compared to his enemies he's just a mortal. He has vulnerabilities and has to use his wits to get by.

Reincarnation has always interested me. The idea that we've been here before, and will be again, is kind of comforting. One thing I hadn't seen much of was a setting where reincarnation was considered the norm, and it was assumed that most people had been reborn at least once. Although Locked Within features conflict over the matter, it's still a world where reincarnation forms a central point in the development of the supernatural society.

Locked Within is set in New York City. I know you recently took a trip there. Had you visited there before writing the book? Where did you visit that is mentioned in the book? 

My wife and I had our honeymoon in New York 4 years ago. The book was firmly in my mind at the time, and had been for many years, but I hadn't started writing yet. We spent 2 weeks in Manhattan. Between that and our week there earlier this year, we still haven't seen or done everything we wanted to!

I've visited several places that appear in Locked Within. The New York Public Library and Riverside Park in particular play important roles, and Grand Central Station appears as well. There's also a bar called Druids in Hell's Kitchen which pretty much serves as the location for a disused bar that features in a particular scene.

Can you describe the feel of holding a book with your name on the cover? ('cause some of us are still waiting for that, you know!)

There's no one feeling that can really describe it. Excitement. Fear. Giddiness. Pride. Fear. It was more than just a feeling of accomplishment; it was also a sense of responsibility. I'm a professional author now, I've achieved my lifelong dream, so I have to work even harder than ever to stay here. 

But at the same time, yeah, I've achieved my lifelong dream. It's amazing to look at the book, feel the pages, smell the paper, then read my name on the cover and think "Wow, I did this."

So, you are doing a live book launch as well as a virtual launch on Twitter (which I think is awesome.) How is that going work? 

The live launch is being held in Hughes and Hughes bookstore in Dundrum, which is near Dublin. The store is doing an amazing amount to promote the event and we've already reached 100 confirmed guests on the Facebook event. I can't wait!

The virtual launch will be the following night. I'll make sure to start it at a time when people from the other side of the Atlantic can make it. I'll assign a Twitter hashtag for people to use so that anyone who's online can join in and chat about the book. 

And, do I understand correctly, that you are already working on a sequel? Tell us about that and when we can look for it. 

Yeah! I've actually been working on it since last year. I'm currently in the middle of a hefty re-write before sending it back to my publisher. Originally my plan was to write 6 books about Nathan Shepherd, but after thinking things over, I decided to shorten the series into a much more manageable trilogy.

The sequel, Forgotten Cause, continues Nathan's story and has him facing not only the consequences of his actions in Locked Within, but also actions taken in his past lives. He comes face to face with an old nemesis, and a woman who could be an ally, lover, or a traitor. If the manuscript is accepted by my publisher and the editing goes well, we should be on course for a release date in 2013.

Last, on a personal note, tell us about the twins! 

Hehe, yeah, those two are currently kicking lumps out of my wife's insides. As you may know, last year we had our first baby, a boy named Conor. We lost him after only three days. It was a really hard time, the worst we could possibly imagine, but we had our friends and family to get us through.

We knew we wanted more kids, so when we found out Jen, my wife, was pregnant again, we were thrilled. You can imagine our surprise at the first scan when the midwife said "I think that's another fetal sac." It was small, less than half the size of the larger one, but there was a definite heartbeat. The midwife was concerned we might lose the smaller one. My wife said that as soon as she saw the heartbeat on the monitor, she knew the second twin would be fine. At the next scan Twin 2 had caught up completely and now the pair of them are weighing in well above the average, even for single babies!

We're expecting them to be delivered by c-section on the 28th of December, but based on their size they could decide to come early. It's been a pretty incredible year. Our lives are changing in big ways and I can't wait to see what's next!

It has been awesome getting to know Paul through his writing journey. 

What else would you like to know? You can leave a question in the comments, or if you have minute, leave him a note of congratulations on his first release. 

Author Feature: Paul Shortt

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


Paul is from Ireland and has the distinction of being the first male author featured on Tell Me Your Story Tuesday. His first novel will be released in 2012 by WiDo Publishing.

Let's get to know Paul!

What made you decide to write? What did you do before becoming a writer?

Paul: I've wanted to be a writer since I was a child. I can't say any one event make me think "Yeah, that's what I want to be!" but I always read, much more frequently than I do now, and knew from about the age of twelve that it was what I wanted to do. I grew up loving stories, whether they be books, movies, or theatre. Having parents interested in theatre and music definitely helped expose me to the different ways a story can be told.

I've been working in office administration for an internet company for the last five years. Landing that book deal doesn't mean I get to quit my day job, I'm afraid! (I get disappointed every time I hear this!)

 Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?

Paul: I do, but it's not very structured, and it has required bending at times. Monday to Friday, I get into my office early and write before work starts, then again during my lunch hour. Google Documents is my friend. Got to love it. Then in the evenings I'll often set aside more time to write.

On weekends I get up early, usually between 8 and 8:30, and go to our front room where we have our books, my computer and my wife's piano. It's a sort of combination study, writing room, music room and games room. This is my favourite spot to write, because I've got my office chair and my music. I'll work there until my wife gets up, then make us breakfast before going back and working away until about 2 or 3 in the afternoon, depending on our plans for the day.

Aside from that, I also work from a netbook whenever I have a spare moment or there's nothing good on tv. Of course, I'm not just writing for all of that time. I also use this time to research places and mythology that I can use in my books.

 Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? What is different?

Paul: You mean different from what 12 year-old me expected? Oh, definitely. When I was a kid I thought one book deal would mean I'd be rich and never have to work a day in my life again. I had no idea the amount of work involved in just getting a book written, let alone getting one ready for publication. I think the most surprising difference though is how prepared you have to be for criticism. I never expected, when I was younger, that I would have to consider, and be able to accept, the amount that my work would have to adapt in order to be published. Even when you've got that deal, or decided to self-publish, you need a thick skin and no small amount of humility in order to make sure your stuff is the best it can be. 

Tell us about the contest that led to your publishing contract. How did that all fall into place?

Paul: Back at the beginning of the year, Karen Jones announced that WiDo Publishing were holding a contest. It was simple enough. Anyone could send in a covering letter and the first three chapters of their novel. Up to three finalists would have their full manuscripts considered for publication. It was actually a friend and fellow writer, Ellen Brickley, who pointed out the contest to me, so I really owe her a lot!

I was contacted by Allie, WiDo's acquisitions officer, in April to let me know I had won and that they were going to offer me a contract for my book. I have the e-mail framed, hanging over my desk at home.

  What is the best advice you have received about this journey?

Paul: One of my favourite authors, Jim Butcher, once said the only different between a wannabe author and a published author is that the published author kept trying. The fact is, you don't need to be the best new writer on the scene. You don't have to be better than Stephen King, or beat J.K. Rowling's sales figures. All you have to do is hold on long enough even while the others around you give up. Most aspiring writers don't even manage to finish that first novel. Keep writing. Keep querying. There is simply no other way to get there.

 What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?

Paul: That it's okay for your early work to suck! Though to be honest, I doubt I would have listened at the time. So maybe I'd rather wish that I'd been more open to receiving advice and criticism.

 What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do combat that?

Paul: I'm terrible for pushing myself to exhaustion. My wife and friends have often had to order me to take a night or two off writing just to uwind and re-charge my batteries. I'm the kind of person who has a need to be writing. Not writing feels wrong to me, and I'm often quite hard on myself if I'm having trouble. The best thing for me then is to turn off the computer, have a glass of wine and watch a movie.

I try not to think about "running out of ideas." I think it helps to accept that there is no such thing as an original plot. Every possible story has already been told, it's just the set dressings that change. So focus on telling whatever stories you find fun to write, and you'll do fine.

 What kind of scenes do you have a hard time writing?

Paul: Any scenes where one character is explaining something to another. I'm very prone to infodumps so I have to watch myself like a hawk for using too much exposition and not integrating the details into the story.

 Do you ever write material based on your close relationships, such as a best friend?, and how do you balance that material with the need to tell an interesting story?

Paul: In all honesty, I try not to. Sometimes I find it easier to write a certain character or scene if I draw on emotions from my own relationships, but it's much more generalised, not specifically basing a character on someone I really know. But for high-emotion scenes, it's difficult to ignore when I've experienced similar feelings in the past.

What sources do you use for inspiration? ( Music, movies, people watching)

Paul: Music is my primary source of inspiration. I listen to music a lot, especially film scores, and I'll often be walking along and an idea for a scene that matches the music I'm listening to will grow in my mind. You'd be amazed how much of my writing is based on "this would be great in a movie with this music in the background!" Though I do also draw inspiration from movies, books, theatre and mythology.

 What do you do when you aren’t writing?

Paul: What little time I let myself off from either writing or researching I usually spend reading, watching movies, or with my tabletop roleplaying group.

Tell us a bit about your work in progress.

Paul: It's an urban fantasy set in New York. My hero, Nathan Shepherd, remembers past lives and uses the knowledge from those memories to track down a creature which has been preying on people for over a hundred years. Along the way he learns about the hidden supernatural society of New York and how his previous incarnations have been involved with it, while at the same time trying to hold onto his job and his relationships with his friends and girlfriend.

Naturally the book deals with questions of life after death; the idea of a natural cycle of death and rebirth. Whether we're still the same people whose memories we have, with the same potential and responsibilities, or each life is a blank slate, with the person you were before, and all the things you achieved, meaning nothing once you die. The book also looks at the choices we make, the sacrifices we're willing to accept for the things we believe in. The primary question running throughout is just how much Nathan is willing to risk to stop this monster, and what, if anything, will he have left in the end?

The book is currently undergoing edits and will be released as part of WiDo's 2012 lineup.

 What is next for you?

Paul: Well I'm currently working on two novels. One is a sequel to my first book, continuing Nathan's story, currently titled Silent Oath, though that's likely to change. I've almost finished the first draft on that. The other is a Young Adult book called Nightfall, about a boy who turns into a bird-like monster after the sun sets. I've been enjoying both. Each one is a different experience and I can't wait to see where they go.

How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?

Paul: I have a blog at http://paulanthonyshortt.blogspot.com. I'm also on Facebook under both a personal profile and an Author page, and my Twitter username is PAShortt.

Thanks for having me on your blog! It's been fun
It was a pleasure having you, Paul. I look forward to reading your book when it comes out! Thanks for stopping by!

Anyone else have questions for Paul?