I would like to introduce to you my featured author of the month, Paul Richardson. Author of “The Wrong Door” , which I have reviewed here: “The Wrong Door“! Paul is a writer, editor and publisher. He grew up in California, went to school in the Midwest, worked in Russia for a few years, and now lives in Vermont with his wife. He runs a niche publishing business that puts out a bimonthly magazine on Russia, a literary quarterly of Russian fiction and non-fiction, and translates and publishes Russian authors in English. He likes to run, cook, read, watch movies and spend time with family, not necessarily in that order. Check out my interview with him! Thank you again Paul for sharing your wonderful story with me!
Sierra: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
Paul: I have been writing non-fiction since I was in high school, journalism mainly, and decided about ten years ago to write a novel as a challenge to myself and as an eventual Christmas present for my children, who were then 11.
Sierra: Tell us a little bit about your first book or the first book in the series.
Paul: The Wrong Door is an adventure fantasy aimed at young adults. So it has lots of unusual adventures, though sadly no dragons or vampires. Mostly it’s about a pair of young kids who walk through the wrong door and as a result are swept up in an adventure in a parallel universe – one they are uniquely qualified to save, even though they are just a couple of kids.
Sierra: How did you choose the genre you write in?
Paul: It was the fact that my children – my intended audience – were caught up in fantasy fiction at the time. It seemed a way to connect with them and what they were interested in.
Sierra: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?
Paul: Starting out is always the most fun. So I like the first chapter of both of the Wrong books best, because you are setting the stage, the characters are flummoxed, and you’re really not sure where this is going to go, but it is definitely going someplace strange.
Sierra: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Paul: Purely imagination. But certainly the way the second book (The Wrong Time) ends up in Russia is a reflection of personal experience or interest. I’ve been studying and writing about Russia for nearly 30 years… And my adult novel, Russian Rules, definitely draws on personal experience. All three books also certainly share a theme of exploring how accidents force otherwise un-remarkable people to do remarkable things. But of course there’s nothing original in that. It’s a storytelling theme as old as humankind.
Sierra: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Paul: Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut. I just love and embrace his quixotic view of the universe, of the absurdity of the human condition.
Sierra: Do you ever experience writers block?
Paul: Mostly I experience an inability to block out time to write. Occasionally, especially when writing the first book in the Wrong series, I would find that I had written the characters into a corner, and it took me some time to figure out how to write them out of it. Kind of like Harold and his purple crayon. Running helped. I would go for a long run and it would help me focus and think sideways about things (it also, actually, led to a book on running – Running is Flying – that Rodale published in 2012, so that was an unexpected bonus).
Sierra: Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
Paul: I think Neal Stephenson would be a really interesting person. He has an amazing breadth of knowledge. Alan Furst too.
Sierra: Will you have a new book coming out soon? If so, can you tell us about it?
Paul: Not soon. My next book is rather challenging and is taking some time to crack. It takes place mainly in Russia past and present and deals with espionage, donning other cultural skins, and altering the course of history. I wish I had more time to spend on it, but putting out magazines and publishing the books of Russian authors keeps me pretty busy…
Sierra: If you could go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your first novel or getting it published that you would change?
Paul: Not really.
Sierra: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Paul: I really don’t feel I am in any position to give advice as a write. But as an editor I will say that too few people understand the importance of good punctuation.
Sierra: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Paul: Kids, call home…