Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Paul Fleming in my Interview Chair

A New Creativia Author Is Born!

Paul Fleming is funny, friendly, and fascinating!
His intellect and quick wit make him a riot!  It is always a pleasure to talk to him and he never ceases to make me laugh!
Paul's warmth and honesty make him approachable and real.  Despite the fact that we live an ocean a part, connected by cyber means, I can say that he is truly my friend!
Paul is inventive and creative.  He is quite a character, but one you will love and never be able to forget!
Reading the interview I did with him, I am sure you will agree!

My Interview with Paul Fleming
·         First off, I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to interview you!  As I do in all my interviews, I will begin by asking you to describe yourself in your own words.
o   Hi Julie, I’ll knock the ball back into your court with a big thank you for taking the time to ask the questions. I just hope the answers make some sense….to someone!
o   I live in Liverpool with my long suffering and tolerant partner Amanda, together with our two girls, Xsara and Lauren. As Amanda works full time and is enjoying success in her career, I elected to remain at home to ‘keep the home fires burning’ and run around after our daughters – which is a full time occupation in itself!
o   I don’t think I’ve ever really grown up, a fact Amanda would attest to in the claim she has 3 children at home(!) and I have no plans to do so in the near or far future. Never grow up, it’s a trap!
·         My first questions have to do with your name.  You are both Paul Fleming and Paul J Fleming, correct?  Does this get confusing and if so, why do you have the two distinctions?  Also, there are other authors and poets throughout history with your same name, has this made things harder for you do you think; why or why not?
o   My full name is Paul John Fleming, so I use Paul J Fleming as my author name on my books, as I have done throughout my life in a myriad of circumstances. The omission of the J in some areas was not intentional, nor an effort to create dual personae. On occasion it was an omission on my part unintentionally, but in the case of Amazon I published my first title to Create Space and then it was ported over to Kindle, somewhere along the line the J disappeared and my Kindle simply showed ‘Paul Fleming’. I’ve since edited things to put the initial back in there, but it’s really that simple.
o   In terms of other authors bearing the same name from history, I think that it’s not had much bearing on myself for the most part, as the most prominent I have come across is a German poet, who has his own statue! Not a competitor in my own field of scribbling, so I think I’ll let him off ;-)
·         How did you become an author?  Who influenced you, personally and professionally? 
o   I have always scribbled small bits of stories, random paragraphs of adventure or even a few lines of very amateur poetry from time to time, but purely for my own amusement and not for wider consumption. It was just a way to relax. Let the mind wander and put some words to paper, which I really never looked at again after they were composed, usually ending up crumpled up in the bin.
o   I did quite a lot of game mastering, which is running role playing games and describing settings, interactions and conflicts to groups of players. The topics varied from horror/suspense to outer space and back again, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Thing is, there were other GM’s who would have A4 folders stuffed with notes and encounters as well as characters the players would interact with. I was never that organized (and still lack that skill!) as I would just turn up with a load of dice and a few rulebooks. I may have scribbled a few notes of interesting things I might include, but most of it was random on the spur of the moment from the top of my head stuff. I did quite enjoy that as players did some random and unexpected stuff, which could prove testing to deal with and provide a good response to. So the games were fun for them, as well as me!
o   However my time to role-play dwindled as I ran a property management business, looking after houses for students who came to study in Liverpool.
Then life threw one of its unpleasant curve balls. My mum passed away late in 2012, which was a devastating blow in our lives.  That really made a change for me. Not in grief, as I had to remain composed to help my Dad, as well as being there for my eldest daughter, who had just lost her best friend in the whole world.
o   I found that sitting and writing out adventures was a way for me to escape from the reality as it presented itself, especially in quiet moments alone, when my mind would wander towards recent events, so to be off in a far flung universe, running along corridors ahead of murderous mutants was just the ticket!  It was a way for me to cope with things, to keep myself rational and able to help others. Yes, I did put off the grieving process until much later, but I did what was necessary and helped everyone through.
o   Then it changed from being an escape from grief to being something I actually enjoyed doing as entertainment. I enjoyed writing the stories than sitting being spoon fed in front of the television and I still do!
o   I write these stories for my amusement and am still rather in awe that other people like them too. As I continue with the expanding setting, I hope that my entertainment continues to entertain others too!
·         Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book?  Has one particular writer or story stuck with you over the years or have they changed as you have grown and matured?
o   May sound a bit offbeat, but Terrance Dicks, Malcolm Hulke and other numerous writers who crafted many Doctor Who stories which appeared both on the television and in book form. When I was much younger I would gobble through books at a crazy rate, mostly Doctor Who as the local library had a very good shelf for Science Fiction, which was quite fully stocked with those titles.
o   Obviously I can point to the likes of Pratchett, Asimov and Niven too as authors who have weaved fantastic tales which lead readers along on wonderous journeys – one which still comes to mind now is the Mote in Gods Eye. Vibrant descriptions and dialogue just enveloped me as I read through it, not wanting to give into tiredness and sleep for missing some of the action!!
o   I think as I have grown a little older, I have widened out a bit in my reading, but just like in music, where people will say they like one genre or another, I am more ‘What sounds good!’, not subscribing to just one type. It’s the same with books, I don’t mind if it’s Barker, Niven, King or an author who is more of the Indie list – if the story intrigues me, I’ll read it. I don’t read it just for the author on the cover!
·         You are a Science Fiction writer.  What lead you to this genre and do you intend to write in any other genres; why or why not?  Does your reading preference differ from your preferred writing genre?
o   Would you believe I started out writing horror? However, the story matter dealt quite intensely with death and the afterlife, which really was too close to real life for me to continue with it after the events of late 2012. Thus, Science Fiction came to the fore as ‘Ray Guns and Rocket-ships’ was as far from reality as I could put my mind in those idle moments. That then evolved into the ‘Tales from the 23rd Century’, which really was meant to be akin to 50’s pulp sci-fi with fantastical tales of the future, rocket-ships and intrepid pilots plying the space lanes. It’s taking on its own shape and form as it evolves in my mind, so I’m just running along with it, trying to keep up.
o   I do plan to return to that original story at some point, if the inhabitants of the 23rd Century will let me do so at some point, but for now they’re all running around in my head getting into all sorts of scrapes and foiling dastardly plots, so I think it will be a while before I can switch genres.
o   I wouldn’t go near writing romance, unless it was a feature within one of my existing storylines. To just go all out and put together a complex relationship novella is just not my cup of tea, so there’s one I’ll steer clear of.
o   The thing is that I write in the setting I enjoy, so quite obviously science fiction features heavily, but on the other hand, I do enjoy Poe, Lovecraft and other masters of the craft such as Barker and King too – hence, my inkling to put something into written form in the horror genre too at some point.
·         Which of your books do you personally enjoy the most?  Which was the most fun for you to write? 
o   All of them! The thing is that they are snapshots of moments in time within the setting of the 23rd Century in a constantly evolving and expanding environment. I really did enjoy Children of Earth and was so absorbed in enjoying the adventure as it unfolded that I ran the risk of it never coming to a conclusion. That was the difficult part, trying to wrap it up. Then the smaller adventure in Hijacked took over with new characters, but now it’s back to the original crew for their next adventure, whilst another few characters run through their paces in the second Chronicles outing. The whole setting is one constantly evolving story, split into bite-size ‘episodes’ if you want to think of it like that, with smaller webisodes adding some additional background detail and flavour.
·         Do you ever get “writer’s block” and if so, how do you combat it?  What is your writing regiment, if any?  Do you have any quirky tendencies that you’d like to share?
o   Oh yes! There are times when I can sit and type out the story for hours, the whole adventure playing out in my mind as I type furiously, but then a distraction occurs and breaks the ‘spell’, after which that little window in my mind onto the adventures seems to be closed off and then it’s time to look up from the keyboard and sample the world outside!
o   Other times I can sit down with free time away from my real world chores and that little window just stubbornly refuses to budge, denying me insight into their activities. It can be frustrating, but then there’s always the dog to walk or household stuff to be done, sometimes whilst doing these then window just pops open and those adventures start again.
o   Sometimes I might turn my attention to the ‘other’ title, or maybe just scribble ideas for future stories. If I concentrate on the ‘problem’, it remains a problem. If I look away and do other things, most of the time the solution just pops up.
o   I am not saying this is all the time. I have had instance to re-read chapters, which have led me in a certain path of writing, and realised I created the problem with the text I have written. Thus I ‘re-imagine’ earlier text and alternative avenues to explore – this may lead to entire paragraphs or even chapters biting the dust, but if it gets the flow going again, it’s more than worth it.
o   Here’s a little secret – between you and me? There was originally a fourth member of the Erstwhile crew. His story was interwoven and certain elements relied upon his skills, but he began to prove himself to be problematic towards the end. Everything else was working, but he was just being damned awkward and I had to go through the entire story to evaluate his worth. In the end, I reworked it and he was removed, which cured the problems I was experiencing with him later on in the story and (I think) made it flow much more smoothly.  He wasn’t cast out into that cold, dark wilderness of ‘darlings’ who have to be killed off. No, no, no! He’s still about, just not quite there yet! ;-)
o   In terms of regimen? My youngest daughter is 3 and at pre-school, so I try to deliver her there and then return to type out a few hours of text before going to collect her, resulting in 4 mornings a week – but as I said, I have to be in the right frame of mind and the window needs to be open.
·         Is there anything you would have done differently in your writing career, if given the chance?
o   Started writing the books much sooner. Now, I say that, but then again, the environment around publishing has changed so dramatically to allow authors such as myself to reach out to the audience, as opposed to hitting the rejection wall of the large publishing houses.
·         You just recently signed on with the independent publisher, Creativia?  How did this new relationship forge?  Have you been with any other publishers and if so, how is Creativia different?
o   I was approached by Miika, which quite honestly took me utterly by surprise.  I never imagined any publisher coming anywhere near me until I had a proven track record of sold books out there in the wild.  Yes, I did approach the offer of Creativia perusing my manuscript with great skepticism at first, but resultant intensive probing of the all-knowing Google simply threw up good vibe after good vibe about this organization.  I even approached Eileen and Mike, who are existing Creativia authors, to ask them about their experiences only to receive further glowing praise.
o   Having only self-published before, I have no experience of other publishers, but am wise enough to do my ‘mouse-work’ and read many tales of warning and woe – as well as those encouraging tales of success too!
o   It’s early days yet, but I can certainly say that the warmth of reception into the ‘Creativia Fold’ with friendly chat and support of my fellow authors – as well as the highly amusing group postings, which have provided much entertainment! – has me looking forward to a very successful ongoing relationship!
o   Just have to note that Creativia wanted to proof my manuscript for me, with layout suggestions too. I thought it would take a while, but the response was lightning fast, which did impress me!
·         Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
o   Quite seriously? Still here at this keyboard, typing out the latest line in adventures!!
o   I’m doing something I love, something I enjoy, and now that I have the help and support from the team at Creativia, I don’t see a reason why I won’t be doing this with great glee 5 years from now! J
·         Thank you so much for your time today!  I look forward to getting to know you and your work better!  Cheers!

o   No problem Julie! Once again I thank you for your time to pose the questions and hope I didn’t ramble on too much…. I can’t hear any snoring so that’s a good sign at least!!
Best wishes, Paul J Fleming

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