Hello everyone! Third interview of the year and we have the pleasure of meeting full time-writer Paul White. A man of varied interests and tastes, Paul has much to share about life, writing and his other creative passions. Stay tuned and take a few moments to meet this week’s inspiring guest.
Hi Paul! Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I’m just a regular guy, an armed forces veteran who had several jobs in the first couple of years after leaving the military. I was looking for something mentally challenging as well as being able to use my creativity, luckily I found what I was looking for in the advertising industry in London.
After moving to Yorkshire I suddenly found myself with two restaurants and a café, it is a long story! But for the ten years my wife and I ran this business we had so much fun and we met so many wonderful people from all walks of life.
I still live in Yorkshire, (God’s Country) with my wife, yes the same one! And my cat. I now write full-time.
What other forms of art you interested in besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it?
I enjoy fascinating paintings and drawings, not only for what they might depict but I marvel at the skills of the artists. Some performance arts amaze me, the choreography, timing, skill and strength of the performers in the Cirque du Soleil are absolutely stunning. Quite recently I have re-discovered photography and am slowly getting better at taking pictures. I love a good photograph, particularly black & white images. I try to envisage what story lays behind the place, the time, the people depicted in them.
In a way that is what I do when creating the characters in my novels, I try to make them as real as possible, make them genuine people living in a regular world just as the reader does, and that’s when the story starts, that’s when things start happening!
It is spinning that yarn, telling the tale in a way that lets my readers share the entire range of emotions that my characters experience during their trials and tribulations, that I hope will have them laughing out loud one minuet and having tears running down their cheeks with sadness the next.
What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?
I do not set out to write for a specific genre, I just try to write a bloody good story. If a publisher wants to put my book into a ‘pigeon-hole’ so be it, but I try to write in a manner that will strike a chord with almost everyone.
I prefer to writing novels than short stories, although I have written a few shorter pieces. Novels allow the reader to become fully immersed in the netherworld of the story. A novel allows the author to build in far more detail, so that it really is like the reader has somewhere else to go to, somewhere to escape from the drudgery and worries of real life, at least for a while!
To you, what makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?
This is quite a difficult question to answer because books are very subjective, for me a good book is one that you can’t put down for long, one that you are constantly itching to pick up again. To be that type of book the author must keep the reader wanting to know what happens next and, in the end, still wanting to know what is going to happen in the future.
The books I have problems with are generally those whose opening chapter(s) are too long and boring. The traits of the books characters can be revealed gradually as the story develops, much in the same way as we learn about new people that we meet, there is no need for the author to give too much detail to early, just get the story moving! My other loathing is a bad ending, by that I mean when a story stops so abruptly, or has clearly been rushed. For the reader it seems that the author has lost all interest and just wants to wind the whole thing up. I feel cheated when this happens, it spoils the entire experience of the read.
I suppose having those two things as a pet hate they have become the biggest ‘no-no’s for me. I try to get the story flowing as quickly as possible and give my books a ‘proper ending’.
As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
For me the most crucial elements in my writing are making sure that the reader can identify with the basics of the story, that means that the setting must be common, like an average town or city, maybe a busy office or country pub, somewhere that is familiar to most people. Another crucial point is that the professions of the characters are commonplace, a waitress, hairdresser, pilot or sailor. Jobs that everyone can relate to.
I believe that this is important, at least for my style of writing, as it is easily recognized and allows the reader’s imagination to create their own world in which the story set, and that is what reading is all about, involving the reader, allowing them to use their own minds for the minutiae; unlike the movies that leave no room for personal interpretation.
One of the hardest issues to tackle well is comedy or humour. Firstly this is very subjective; not everybody finds the same things funny. Another point is, unlike a screenwriter, the author does not have the benefit of the skills and timing of an actor to deliver the joke. To write humour well the author must weave the comedic script seamlessly into the narration, difficult at best. I like to include a fair amount of humour into my books and have found that re-hashing an old gag can work well, if you ‘lull’ the reader into it. Otherwise I try to ‘side-swipe’ the reader, suddenly throwing in a funny situation or happening when it is least expected.
Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what you write?
I started reading seriously when a young boy at school, on rainy days we were allowed to take our breaks in the library, and libraries as you know are full of books! I was instantly hooked. It was not long before I had outgrown the books suggested for my age group 7-8 yrs, so by the time I was nine I was reading ‘The Moon & Sixpence’ by Somerset Maugham. In my early teens ‘Catch 22’ & ‘The World According to Garp’ had been devoured, and I was reading a whole range of material from Thomas Hardy to Wilbur Smith. There are so many wonderful books out there it is very difficult to pick just one that really has influenced me, however a fantastic author that definitely had an effect is Hector Hugh Munro, better known by the pen name Saki, and also frequently as H. H. Munro. He was a Scottish writer whose witty, mischievous and sometimes macabre stories satirised Edwardian society and culture. If you have not read any of his work you are missing out on a treat.
What is your preferred genre to write in?
I do not write for a specific genre in general, my work tends to be a sort of mix of, life story-cum-suspense-cum-romance. Although I am planning an Adult humour oriented series.
Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?
Right at this moment I have withdrawn my works from publication and circulation. The reason for this is I am undertaking a major review, editing, re-writing and branding my work. Hopefully my books will be available for Christmas next year (2014).
Meanwhile I will be continuing to write my current book, I have given it the working title of ‘Lucky?’, but I am sure the title will change before it is published. I shall also carry on with ‘The Diaries of Dirty Jack’, a series of amusing and satirical Adult tales regarding the mischievous life of a Royal Naval Sailor.
For those who like to promote other writers on your blog, why is that so important to you?
No Answer, Have not done so yet. I have two blogs, one is about food the other is social comment so neither is really suitable
However I have a website & would be happy to start a feature of some sort, highlighting a writer or book, say each month? I will have to think of the best way to do this, I am open to suggestions.
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?
Finding the time to fit everything I have to do in a day into a day! No matter how hard I plan ahead life seems to catch up with me, so I have learnt to simply go with the flow and not worry. All fretting does is give you wrinkles!
What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your genre?
If you are thinking about writing then that is your first mistake, don’t THINK about it, just DO IT. Chances are you will not like a single word you write. Don’t worry that is normal! But once you have started putting words together you ARE a writer……finishing a project, getting published, someone actually buying your book, well that’s another matter altogether. The key is to get started and stop making excuses to yourself.
How can readers get into contact with you?
If you would like to find out more about me, or would like to contact me a good place to start is via my website http://fluffybunnypj.wix.com/paul-white I try my best to keep this up to date, if I can find the time!
Thank you so much for meeting with us today, Paul. Good luck with your book plans and with your blogs! Readers, thanks for stopping by again this week. Please check out Paul’s link to see what he’s up to and/or drop him a message on this page.
Have a good one, everyone!!!