Thursday, December 09, 2010
Probably too much, but I once read some advice which said to "write what you know" and I know myself quite well. I think it comes down to the fact that you will always draw on your own experiences when writing a character, so there is bound to be something of you somewhere in every character you create. Then again, the amount varies. Sometimes I will look at a character and recognize myself. Other times I will catch just the faintest of glimpses.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I once sang the opening lines of "Climb Every Mountain" (from The Sound of Music) at full volume, by myself, in front of my school. It was part of a school play that was a spoof of Star Wars. I played "Chewing Tobacco" (Chewbacca). Oh, and I can't sing.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
It was about twelve years ago. A story came to mind and I had this overpowering urge to tell it. I started writing and have been occupied with writing in some form or other ever since.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I like anything with a good story and a compelling voice. The writer needs to pull me in and keep me there. Stephen King is my favorite author, but I only enjoy a few of his books. I also enjoy Jonathan Safran Foer, Iain M. Banks, Khaled Hosseini, Cormac McCarthy, and Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I enjoy Philip K. Dick's stories but I am not a fan of his writing style.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
The Wire - My first book, about a computer game that traps people inside.
Hardly - A boy and his dog save the Earth from a tyrannical alien king.
Village of the Dammed - A mysterious stranger returns to collect the soul of a young girl who drowned during the flooding of a dam.
Hour - A new planet is discovered on the other side of the Sun.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Prayer, exercise, and cheesecake.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Apart from finally handing my life over to God, it would have to be raising two children who are firmly grounded in Christ.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Definitely a bear. I like to keep to myself and can be grumpy sometimes. Otherwise, I'm really cuddly (or so my wife tells me).
What is your favorite food?
Does cheesecake count as food? I discovered it at age nineteen after avoiding it like the plague because I felt the words "cheese" and "cake" did not belong on the same page, never mind within the same word.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Motivation after receiving the umpteenth rejection letter. I always wanted to be published because I felt it would be proof that I had reached a certain standard. I overcame it by remembering exactly why I was writing. I felt that if I quit I would not just be letting myself down, but also God.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Be prepared for a lot of work and no reward. Write because you love it, but also aim for publication because that way you will try to improve your skills. Don't take it personally if a publisher or agent turns you down. And don't get upset when you see those celebrity book deals. They are about money, and have nothing to do with literature.
Tell us about the featured book.
Alpha Redemption is basically a human drama set in space. It is the story of a man, Brett Denton, who has lost everything. In an attempt to escape his misery he volunteers to take part in a risky prototype mission to Alpha Centauri. His only companion is a learning-capable computer called Jay. At first Brett finds Jay's constant questions annoying but, over time, they become friends. With Jay's help, Brett slowly begins to heal. It is as story about journeys. Everyone and everything in the book is moving towards something. And ultimately it is about Brett's redemption.
Please give us the first page of the book.
The ship loomed overhead, its shadow engulfing them. Its smooth white skin filled the window, slowly obscuring their view of the Earth as the elevator rose. It stopped, and pneumatic seals hissed and whirred into place. Brett followed the technician through the airlock, pausing only to get a final glimpse of the planet he would not see again for almost a decade. He craned his neck to get a look but the ship's hull now blocked his view. All he could see was a sliver of atmosphere and a handful of stars.
It was his first time inside The Comet, but he knew it intimately from months of training. They were in the cockpit but there were no instruments: no joystick or control console, or even a windscreen--at least not in the usual sense of the word. There was nothing for him to do other than get into the hyper-sleep chamber that crouched in the middle of the floor like a grotesque, mutated iron-lung. He climbed the steps, turning to look towards the open airlock while the technician helped him connect the hoses, checking and double-checking the seal around his mouth. His initial discomfort at having something attached to his face faded as he relaxed the way they had taught him in the swimming pool, focusing on breathing slowly and deeply.
He slid into the chamber and his legs, hips, torso and chest became weightless in the clinging embrace of the syrupy goo. It covered his head and he opened his eyes, blinking uncomfortably into the yellow haze. He knew it was vital to immerse the eyes; they had stressed that many times. Remember to open them wide and have a good look around.
He could see the airlock from here, and the technician, now an amorphous blob, moving around the front of the bath, back and forth, back and forth. Brett felt a shudder as the lid closed and sealed over his head. A vague fear surfaced in the deepest recesses of his mind—what if. . .? then vanished again like a puff of breath on a chilly autumn morning.
The technician disappeared through the airlock, leaving Brett alone in his bath, breathing filtered air through a hose, listening to the muted sounds of the ship as it prepared to launch him towards an impossibly distant point of light.
In his dream-like cocoon, Brett could sense very little. Everything seemed muted and far away. He heard distant hisses, cavernous booms, and the ghostly shriek of metal on metal. Vibrations passed through the liquid and nudged at his body as if to alert him to some impending danger.
He could see the hoses drifting. His legs floated like odd-shaped creatures in a yellow sea. Then the vibrations stopped and there was no sound other than his heart beating softly in his ears. The taste of the air being fed to him through his mouthpiece changed. It reminded him of something. Was it watermelon? He could not remember the last time he had eaten a watermelon. He could not remember the last time he had seen a watermelon. Maybe they were extinct. Like dinosaurs. Hit by an asteroid; drowning in the mud; arms too short to take out the seeds. . .
Brett became aware that he was no longer thinking clearly, but that was fine. He watched his thoughts tumbling along like pretty little shards of plastic in a kaleidoscope, tumbling, tumbling, ever changing, never the same picture twice.
And at some point--he did not know exactly when--his thoughts faded as darkness washed over him and he slipped into hyper-sleep.
Sounds like a good read. How can readers find you on the Internet?
http://www.pabaines.com/ (personal site)
http://newauthors.wordpress.com/p-a-baines/ (joint blog)
Thank you for spending this time with us, Paul.
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