JB: When did you first start writing?
Paul: I was about 12. My first attempt at a novel was a horribly derivative fantasy story which embarrasses me to this day. Suffice to say, I wrote an awful lot of rubbish before I found my stride as an author.
JB: Tell us about your current work in progress.
Paul: Well just last November my first novel, Locked Within, was released by WiDo Publishing. Later this year we'll be launching the sequel, so I'm in the editing process for that, as well as writing the first draft of the third book, which should close out the trilogy. It's an urban fantasy series set in a world where reincarnation, magic and monsters are all real, focusing on the conflict between two separate groups. The reborn Conclaves believe that the soul is eternal and when you are reincarnated, you are still the same person, or people, you once where.
Then there's the Council of Chains, who believe that only memories are passed on from one life to the next, and the prime essence of a person is gone forever when you die. The Council, therefore, seek out ways to live forever, becoming vampires, liches, etc. In New York, where the series is set, the reborn were all driven out years ago following a vicious war, but one man, Nathan Shepherd, wasn't aware of his reborn heritage and so wasn't involved. This grants him freedom from the rulings of the Conclaves, and an amount of disinterest from the Council, who don't see him as a threat. As he remembers more of his past lives and discovers the power he holds, he decides to fight against the supernatural masters of New York, though he risks losing friends and loved ones as a result.
JB: Where do you see yourself as a writer in about five years?
Paul: Ideally, sitting in the audience at the premier of a film adaptation of one of my books! Regardless of his things go, I'll still be writing. There's almost nothing in the world that fills me with as much joy as putting together the scattered pieces of ideas and turning them into a story.
JB: Do you edit as you write?
Paul: I try not to. If I get caught up in correcting errors, I lose sight of the overall story. It's better to get the first draft finished, even if it's terrible, then start on edits later. Incidentally, pretty much all of my first drafts are terrible.
JB: Do you plot out a story or do you just freely write out your rough draft?
Paul: It's a bit of a combination. When writing Locked Within, I pretty much just jumped right in. I tend to come up with scene ideas whenever I'm not actually writing, particularly when I'm just listening to music, so I typically have the general plot worked out before I start. Though with my third book I have so much to fit in I'll have to do more solid plotting beforehand.
JB: What message would you like your book to convey?
Paul: That monsters can be beaten. You might lose more than you ever thought possible. Things will seem desperately hopeless. But in the end, good can win. I'm a sucker for (eventual) happy endings, and while I love putting my characters through hell, in the end I want them to have earned a reward.
JB: What would you say to someone who aspires to be a writer?
Paul: Read the kind of thing you want to write. Research everything you can. Write as much as you can. Accept the fact that your early stuff will most likely be unpublishable, but never take any criticism personally. No matter how much negative comments hurt, there is something you can learn. If you want to be a professional writer someday, starting acting professional now. A professional doesn't let criticism get them down or respond with anger. A professional looks at ways to better themselves. By the same token, sometimes people just won't like your stuff, and that's okay. It doesn't mean you're no good, just that you're not for them. You'd be crazy to try to please everyone. Above all, never, ever give up. You're closer to realising your dreams than you think.
JB: Other than writing or reading, what do you do for fun?
Paul: My wife and I watch movies regularly, as well as a select few tv shows like Bones. I also love to cook or just close my eyes and listen to music, especially film scores, and I enjoy tabletop role-playing games.
JB: When a book series ends, do you ever long for an extra installment of that franchise?
Paul: No. While I always have a bittersweet longing to see those characters again, I would rather see a series end with a strong finish than fade away slowly, the quality falling more and more because the author couldn't figure out how to end things or he gave in to fan pressure to keep the story going.
JB: Do you plan on holding a reading/signing for your next book? Absolutely. I held a successful launch last November for Locked Within, at which the bookstore sold out of copies within about 20 minutes. It was a great way to help get the word out, and a truly joyous way to celebrate the culmination of so much hard work. I've spoken on my blog about how a book launch is the closest writers get to red carpet film premiers, opening night at the theatre, stadium concerts or big art exhibitions. We're one of the only kinds of artist who rarely get to publicly celebrate our work, so events like these are important, as much for ourselves as for the marketing value. In fact, I also held a virtual book launch and live-streamed a reading of the first chapter. It was a lot of fun and I'll definitely be doing that again for my second book, and I hope to see as many people as possible tune in later this year!
JB: Thanks for stopping by, Paul! Hey, gang, why not check out the "Locked Within" blurb and photo?
The supernatural realm and the mundane world have existed side by side since the dawn of time. Predators walk the streets, hidden by our own ignorance. Once, the city of New York was protected, but that was another age.
Now a creature emerges from the city's past to kill again, with no one to hear the screams of its victims. The lost and the weak, crushed under the heels of New York's supernatural masters, have given up hope. But one man finds himself drawn to these deaths. Plagued by dreams of past lives, his obsession may cost him friends, loved ones, even his life.
To stop this monster, he must unlock the strength he once had. He must remember the warrior he was, to become the hero he was born to be.
His name is Nathan Shepherd, and he remembers.
Oh, and then there's Paul's Bio: A child at heart who turned to writing and role playing games when there simply weren t enough action figures to play out the stories he wanted, Paul Anthony Shortt has been writing all his life. Growing up surrounded by music, film and theatre gave him a deep love of all forms of storytelling, each teaching him something new he could use. When not playing with the people in his head, he enjoys cooking and regular meet-ups with his gaming group. He lives near Dublin, Ireland with his wife Jen, their twin daughters Amy and Erica, and their dogs, Pepper and Jasper.
Of course, we can't forget Paul's Website: http://paulanthonyshortt.
Also, you can click here to buy Locked Within!