Monday, July 23, 2012
|Picture: Paul & Maddie Enjoying a Novel!|
Paul Alan Fahey created and edited, Mindprints, an international literary journal for writers and artists with disabilities, at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. During his tenure, Mindprints made Writers Digest’s “Top 30 Short Story Markets” list for two consecutive years. His work has appeared in The MacGuffin, Audience, Thema, The Palo Alto Review, Kaleidoscope, and several other literary journals and anthologies. His monthly online column at Coffeehouse For Writers focused on writing advice. Paul is a six-time winner of the Lillian Dean Award for short stories and nonfiction at the California Central Coast Writer’s Conference.
Paul Alan Fahey is currently editing the anthology: THE OTHER MAN, a companion to the bestselling THE OTHER WOMAN.
The View From 16 Podwale Street is well-researched and historically accurate. Were you already familiar with fascism, Nazism and WWII or did you spend a lot of time researching?
I’ve always had an interest in WWII. I was born during the war and growing up, most of my family and relatives were veterans or had plenty to say about the war around the family dinner table. As a child, I met a woman who worked with my mother at a high end clothing store. She was British and had lived through the Blitz and had many stories of the stiff upper lip way the English went about their lives during those horrendous times. Years later, I met a colleage who had lost most of his relatives in the Holocaust. So through the years I’ve connected with folks who either lived through those times or were touched by the terrible atrocities of Nazism and WWII.
Side note: Paul Alan Fahey’s next novella, Bomber’s Moon, is set during the London Blitz. The main character is on a mission to learn the truth surrounding his life-partner’s death.
Do you have a personal investment in the setting?
In a way I do. I was brought up an Irish Catholic, went to weekly catechism classes, Sunday Mass, and even an all-boys parochial school for the first year of high school. My grandmother actually had a framed portrait of Pope Pius XII – a main background character in The View From 16 Podwale Street – hanging in our dining room. I also had close Jewish classmates in elementary school and in high school, years later, I was partnered (by region assignment, not to be confused with life partner) with another Peace Corps volunteer in Asmara, Ethiopia. We were stationed in Ethiopia during the late 1960’s for several years, and I consider him today one of my best pals. I think one of the neglected aspects of WWII might very well have been the Nazi atrocities leveled at people of all religious faiths. And especially the way the Nazis dealt with homosexual, the disabled, or simply anyone who looked different than them. I think my interest was piqued early on, possibly in the 1960’s when we began to learn of Pope Pius’ complacency in helping those targeted for extinction. Two books, one a play, were extremely helpful in my research: “Hitler’s Pope,” a nonfiction account byJohn Cornwell and “The Deputy,” a theatrical dramatization of the eventsleading up to the Holocaust by Rolf Hochhuth. In terms of other research, I looked at numerous books from the library, mainly those with photographs so I could “see” the period thru those eyes.
You’re a wonderful writer. Did you study formally at a University or otherwise, or are you self-taught?
I have a doctorate in Education and did quite a lot of professional writing in my teaching career. I didn’t really get started in writing memoir and fiction until my late 40’s. I began by, believe it or not, taking a short story writing course from Writer’s Digest and went on from there. I’m mostly self-taught. My bookshelves are overflowing with How To books. I’ve attended great local writer’s conferences, workshops and even enrolled in a few online courses that focused on writing fast, writing to theme, and developing believable characters. Those things are invaluable to a writer.
“How to Be a Writer in the E-Age and Keep Your Sanity” byCatherine Ryan Hyde and Anne Allen helped me so much and is now on Kindle.
Hyde and Allen’s e-book is an excellent guide to writing in the current e-book environment. Not sure I would have pubbed my first e-book, Podwale, if I hadn’t followed Anne Allen’s blog on a regular basis, as well as Catherine on Facebook.
So I can’t say I did it all myself, but I really appreciate your comment on my writing. I think it took years to get here. Oh, I did write a short book when I was 13. It was a child’s guide to traveling by train in East Africa. Years later is proved to be rather prophetic when I ended up in Africa in Peace Corps. One other things I’d like to mention is my participation on a flash fiction writing list serve that I think really helped me writer shorter prose and gave me excellent advice and critiques from other writers.
Your main characters are lesbians. I’ve recently come to learn that novels with gay main characters are widely ignored by the straight community. What are your thoughts on this?
You know, I may not be the best person to answer this. Most of my writing has been pretty traditional lit fiction with straight, as opposed to gay characters, and some short memoir. I’ve rarely talked about my gay experiences – though perhaps I should have before now.
I recently went through a pretty serious illness and that got me thinking that it was now or never to tackle some pretty personal issues in my writing, so I’ve concentrated on writing gay and lesbian characters and feel more comfortable with myself for doing so.
I have a publisher in VA who is mainly an e-book publisher, JM Synder, publisher of JMS Books LLC, but she does some print books. As a result of Podwale, I have two semi-autobiographical novellas coming out in e-book formats this year and a big project I’m working on with 22 gay writers – an anthology of personal essays titled, THE OTHER MAN. This volume will be pubbed in Spring 2013 and be released first in e-book and then in print. Lately I’ve been reading more gay lit and also writing it. So far, the experience has been great. I can tell you that THE OTHER MAN was very hard to sell, even to small gay print publishers. Maybe lots of reasons for this.
As a gay author, have you felt your work is shunned by straight readers?
You know, I don’t. Not yet anyway. I just haven’t had the experience of being a “gay” author long enough to know one way or the other. I think every writer gears his or her work to a small niche of readers. In the past, for me, my niche would have been readers who like to read small lit journals in print and online. Will just have to see what the future holds in gay lit. So far, so good.
Interviewer Side Note: I think Paul Allen Fahey makes a subtle, but great point. The use of labels in fiction, separating the gay authors from the straight ones, may be something that requires reform – among that, the attitudes of people whose hearts aren’t filled with love, peace and acceptance. Do not judge a book by its cover, but also don’t judge a book by its author’s or main character’s sexuality!
The two main characters in your novella, Elwira and Raz, are very different. Do you truly believe opposites attract?
Yes, I do. For example, my partner and I are very different. He’s much more social, emotionally together and positive. Blame it on my Catholic upbringing, but I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop “on my head.” In Podwale, I wanted to make the characters see their worlds differently. Elwira was so isolated from the city environment. Like most of the people of Warsaw, Elwira had an almost unshakeable view of the Pope’s ability to change the political situation. Raz was more practical, less religious and more open to what was happening around her, in the world outside their home on Podwale. Putting them together made for some wonderful differences, and of course, hopefully conflict.
I loved both characters. Still, pondering Elwira won me over completely. Her love of literature and anxiety issues drew me closer to her. Do you relate to one character more than the other?
Sure. I’m Elwira thru and thru, I think. I identified with her the most when writing the book. “If she didn’t see it, it wasn’t happening.” I’ve often used that kind of magical thinking to get me through the ups and downs of life. By the time you reach my age – I’m in my late sixties – you’ve perhaps had more downs than ups, or that might be the Catholicism talking. You should talk to my partner, Bob. He’s much more optimistic. Of course, there may be a bit of optimism in Elwira, though it was misguided in the end and she had to act to save her life, as well as her partner’s.
Can you tell me about your writing routines?
I’ve tried mornings vs. afternoons and I can do either pretty well. Usually about two hours a day. With longer works, those of about 16 – 20K words, or novellas, I try and kid myself into thinking I’m writing a short story in scenes, so I can usually do a scene a day for the first draft. About 750 – just over 1K words per day. If I do that I feel pretty good. I also answer emails and do a bit of reading in the morning, to jumpstart my writing work.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
It’s different for every writer, but I do use the three act structure. There are some wonderful books on this and even a template on the Internet. Before I start the draft, I try and have the following, at least: an idea of the beginning; how and where the story will end; if possible the two major turning points, one just before the end of Act I that sets the story in motion, and one major one at the end of Act II, that gets you into the climax and resolution of Act III. Then I just start writing toward those points in the story arc. Having the story arc at the beginning, even if it’s not the true story arc of what your book will eventually be, it’s a great way to get yourself going. Another thing I’m doing right now is adapting a short script, “Bomber Moon,” about 90 pp to a novella – “Bomber’s Moon,” is the story about the Blitz, I previous mentioned. In the process, I find I’m using most of the dialogue from the script for my novella scenes.
Unlike many of the authors I read/interview, you have traditionally published. Can you tell us some of the benefits of traditional/indie e-publishing?
It was a long, hard road to get THE OTHER MAN pubbed, as I previously mentioned. I had a wonderful agent, but the small gay lit publishers were not biting. So, I found my current publisher, JM Synder, publisher of JMS Books LLC, online and I first sent her Podwale, which she liked and from there she accepted two more stories, one gay lit and the other gay young adult, due out later this year. She also took on the publishing of THE OTHER MAN. I’ve been lucky so far, but I know others struggle to have their work published. What for me, may not work for others. I will say that I followed Anne Allen’s advice in her blog and went with nontraditional or e-pubbing. So far, I haven’t been sorry at all.
A special Thank You to Paul Allen Fahey for taking the time to interview. You can pick up The View From 16 Podwale Street on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and Smashwords.
Read my full review of The View From 16 Podwale Street HERE!
Polyamory: Married & Dating is a show on Showtime that follows the often awkward sex lives of married people and the people they’re da...
So 2011, was not the best year for me in terms of winning Sweepstakes. 2012 isn't shaping up to be too bad, though. I'm hoping for m...
I’m currently working on a novel that features the late and great Edgar Allan Poe. My novel is the narrative of a fictional charac...
So, I just watched the season finale of Showtime’s PolyAmory. Can I get a self-bloated witness? What-what! I’m going to start ...
If you haven't visited DudeIWantThat.com yet, now is the time. That site is hilarious and chock full of goodies. I already have a prese...
Should we call those stall eyes? I noticed Catherine the Great was trending on Google today. It was mentioned on The Big Band Theor...
As a BzzAgent, I get free stuff from time to time. This week I was lucky to receive a free package of the new Flame Grilled Angus Beef Ball...
When it comes to “letting go,” I’m simply awful at it. It’s never been easy for me to let go of anything or anyone, despite a desp...
This giveaway is in honor of all the free stuff I’ve received this year so far! I want to reward my readers so I’m passing the freebies al...
Dennis Davern Today/MSNBC First of all, isn’t lying to police a crime? I don’t think the police should jump on arresting Dennis Daver...