Interview with an Author: Paul K. Ellis
In Paul’s Repertoire:
A little bit about Paul…
Not only is Paul a pretty amazing wordsmith, he’s one-fourth disc jockey and one-fourth IT geek. He currently resides in the Richmond, Virginia area with his wife and three daughters.
Could you introduce yourself in a few sentences?
Normally I ramble on a bit more than that, but sure; let’s try it: “Hiya! I’m Paul K. Ellis, storyteller, maker, and unrepentant nerd.” Too much? Actually, that pretty much covers it. I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. I love making up things (particularly things that involve water, explosions, or gig-normous messes); and, well, unrepentant nerd kinda speaks for itself.
What inspired you to write the short story The Winds for the new anthology Dirty Magick: Los Angeles? How much of this story is driven by your childhood?
Charlie Brown, the editor, was on the Dead Robots Society podcast a while back, soliciting writers for an anthology he had in mind. The premise was a genre mash-up of magic and Noir in Los Angeles.
Well, it’s Noir! My favorite genre—bar none—so I had a pretty good handle on the tropes; the hard-boiled P.I., the dead partner, the femme fatale, etc. The magic part was a little trickier. I drew on some Celtic and Irish mythology I have researched over the years, and combined the legends of Cernunnos, Lludd Llaw Eraint, Cŵn Annwn (and their keeper: Matilda of the Night), and the Wild Hunt.
I was going to say that my childhood wasn’t drawn upon for this story, but it does touch themes of loss, fairness, and persistence is the face of personal ignorance. Also, in listening to your grandmother.
What was the hardest part of writing The Winds?
The initial draft was written over a seven day period during family vacation. I was up early and up late wordsmithing. Stories for this anthology were genre specific (no problem) and word capped (BIG PROBLEM). The most challenging part was editing the story to meet length constraints and still have the ending make sense. That was brutal to do, but it tightened up the story and kept it at a pretty swift pace.
What genre would you categorize The Winds in?
It’s a combination of urban fantasy and noir.
Can you share a little of your work with me and my blog followers?
Here’s a flash fiction horror piece I did: http://paulkellis.com/2012/04/18/flash-fiction-cookies/
Who are some of your favorite authors (past & present) that have influenced your writing?
I always feel like [I’ll] leave some of my favorites out, but here goes. In no particular order: I’m a big fan of Walter Gibson, Lester Dent, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and the early works of Heinlein, Asimov, Campbell, and E.E. Smith. More recently, Jim Butcher, Paul Cooley, Justin Macumber, Tee Morris, Pip Ballantine, David Eddings, and David Weber.
The writer [with] the biggest influence on me is H. Beam Piper. He understood the circular nature of history in a way that continues to enthrall me. [Piper’s work is] a lot of fun and insightfully sharp.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
On the reading shelf at present (despite what my Goodreads says) are:
Ministry Protocol – Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, edited by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
Haywire, by Justin Macumber
And, of course, I’m reading my fellow contributors’ stories in Dirty Magick: Los Angeles.
Are you currently working on any new material? Would you mind telling us a little about it?
I’m working on something new; another short piece on spec. I’m calling it Project Blackford, at the moment. Unfortunately, until the principals give me the go ahead, there’s little more I can say about that.
I can talk about my work in progress, The Order of the Silver Rose. I’m about two thirds done and on track to have the first draft completed early next year. This Steampunk story takes place in the mid-1880’s and revolves around a young, widowed Baroness, her street rat charge, an ex-Confederate captain, and their search for the missing Confederate treasury.
Do you have any advice for fellow wordsmiths trying to make it out in the world?
Okay, this is for non-blogging, fiction writers:
- Write when it’s time to write, save the editing for later.
- When you’ve completed a story, let it age, and put some distance on it before you edit.
- Edit to make the story tighter, flow smoother, and move faster.
- Build a brand later. Social media is great … ly distracting. Write instead of tweeting.
- Above all; BIC … Butt In Chair. Write anywhere, and for any length of time. Got a 15-minute break? Go write! A half hour for lunch? Go write! A “writing place” will not help you. Neither will a “writing ritual” nor “writing buddy.” The only thing[s that’ll] get your novel done [are] discipline and perseverance. I have found most everything else just gets in the way. Just my opinion, your mileage may vary.
To purchase Paul’s work, access the following link: Dirty Magick: Los Angeles