Today I have the pleasure of introducing author Paul Cude who will be sharing his thoughts on reading and writing, and details of his Book, Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past (Book 1)
Paul on Writing
Where do you get your ideas?
From my dreams and life experiences more than anything. Oddly the whole thing started with a dream. Sounds a bit crazy really, but one night, when my elder daughter was just a baby (she’s not far off 16 now) I had the single most realistic dream I’ve ever had. I didn’t remember it until the following day, but when I did, I swear it was just like watching a movie in my head…..so graphic, so intense, so…..mesmerising. Anyhow, I told my wife, who was gobsmacked to say the least. And so was what she said to me, “You have to write it, you just have to.” At the time I just laughed off her idea, bearing in mind that at the time I could only type with two fingers. But over a period of I suppose months, I kept getting more dreams, flashbacks into the story…….sometimes little details, sometimes insights into the characters, sometimes twists and turns to do with the plot. In the end I suppose it was inevitable that I would write it. First I taught myself to type properly…..3 months, and then, well………..I began. At first I needed complete silence to be able to write, something there wasn’t a lot of bearing in mind I was taking care of one young child, with another on the way. But over time I’ve learned to filter it all out and can now write with the kids playing around me if I need to, but I still think I do work more efficiently in total silence. It has taken a long time, and I was surprised how hard and crucial the editing process was. But in the end it was most definitely worth it. The life experiences part is more about the human sport mentioned in the book. I’ve played field hockey for well over three decades now, and it’s changed my life beyond recognition. I have a great affection and admiration for the other sports mentioned as well, hence the reason they’re included.
What motivates you to write?
Earning a living wage, being a success, but above all, bringing just a little pleasure to the readers. I know how it feels to be lost in a fictional world, staying up all night to finish a book, or “just one more chapter”. To provide others with a story that will get them hooked and give them the pleasure of getting lost for a few minutes or a few hours certainly keeps me focused.
How many hours a week do you spend writing?
It’s so difficult to say. One of the things I love about doing what I do is the freedom it gives me. That said, I do end up on the computer at all times, sometimes starting at 5.30am and most nights not finishing until closer to 11pm and that’s seven days a week. Of course it’s not constant, and a lot of that is the devil that is social media. But writing goes on in between and anytime when I have more than a few minutes. If I had to guess I’d say closer to 20 hours of writing a week, but as so often happens, life can get in the way and as I’m a house husband and look after both of my kids, regularly I have to ditch the writing to look after either one or both of them. The writing is always the first thing that suffers.
Best thing about writing?
The freedom. Not only in the sense that I can write when I like, perhaps in the evening, thus freeing up some time during the day. But freedom to explore my dreams, other worlds, the crazy fiction that regularly plays out in my head, mainly when I’m asleep, but quite often during the day. I’m sure my family must regularly look at me, see my vacant stare and think….. ‘he’s off amongst the dragons again.’
Your biggest writing distractions?
Without a doubt…..social media. A necessity in this day and age, but one that proves time consuming and a huge distraction from writing. I love helping other authors and sharing their work….who wouldn’t? As a reader I don’t just read one book, or one series of books. I read lots of different books in lots of different genres. So sharing the work of others always seems like the right thing to do, so that people who follow me have the chance to find new authors and brilliant new books. You also hope that those authors that you’re sharing feel exactly the same way. Unfortunately though, it is massively time consuming and on any one day can pull you away from your main goal of writing.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Generally I would say about a year, but it depends what life throws at us as a family. Over the past few years we’ve had more than our fair share of ups and downs with health issues, etc, and as I’ve stated already, the very first thing to suffer for me is the writing. I would say if things go well, a year is a reasonable target to get the writing, editing and everything else in place.
Least favourite thing about writing?
It would be hard to choose between social media and editing. I love interacting with all the other people on twitter, facebook and google+ etc, but it’s so time consuming, and I know my writing suffers because of it. And so while I love doing that side of things, I would get so much more done if I just ignored social media all together. As for editing…..I absolutely loathe it. I get to the end of writing a book and the elation on writing that very last sentence is beyond belief. And then it hits you. You’ve still got all the editing to do. Ahhhhh!!! But it is a necessary evil and one that pays off the more time you spend on it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read each of my books during the editing process.
How do you measure your success as a writer?
Certainly not money, that’s for sure. I think for me it has to be a combination of reviews and messages from people who’ve bought and read your book. Opening your emails up early in the morning to find a positive message from a reader puts the biggest smile of all on your face. And not just for the rest of the day.
What advice would you give to yourself if you were starting the writing journey again?
Spend as much money as you can to get the right covers. For my first book I’ve had three different covers, and it’s only now that I feel I have the right one, the one I should have had in the first place. At the time it was difficult to know exactly what it was I wanted, and where to find the right person to design it. As well, I was restricted by a rather tight budget. But in the long term, it’s worked out much more expensive. There are so many more great places to have your cover designed now, and they are not too expensive either. Lessons learned.
Paul on Reading
What is your favorite genre(s)? Tell us more about why you love them?
When in my late teens, I mistakenly ordered a Tom Clancy book…..Debt of Honour. I was too lazy to return it, so it sat on my bedside table for weeks, until one evening, when I picked it up and started to read it. Many hours later I put it down, only because I needed a few hours’ sleep before I went to work. I was hooked. After finishing that, I went out and bought all the other Tom Clancy books I could find. It was also about that time that the Star Wars expanded universe books started to appear. I caught sight of the first one while working in a book shop in my role of service engineer. I can remember it clearly: Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. It had a striking blue cover with some of the Star Wars characters on it, and I had to buy it there and then, in the middle of doing my job, much to the amusement of the owner of the bookshop. My love of the expanded universe has continued ever since, and as soon as the next book comes out…….I have to have it.
It seems my love of books goes in phases. If I have nothing to read, I wander around a bookshop until I find something I like the look of and then read it. If I get hooked, I go back and find other books by that author. Examples of this for me are Terry Goodkind and Christopher Paolini…..I love all of their books. The detail, the plot……the characters….are just all amazing. I can only dream of writing as well as they do. Other authors I’ve found and loved this way include Robin Hobb, J.V. Jones, David Gemmell and Trudi Canavan, to name but a few. I love the way they use their imaginations and the worlds that they create on the pages of the book. They’re all very easy to visualise.
My favorite author of all though, is the wonderful Terry Pratchett. If you haven’t read one of his books you really should. While I love pretty much all the books he’s written, the ones about the guards of Ankh-Morpork, Captain Carrot, Sam Vimes, Corporal Nobbs, Angua and of course the Lord Vetinari, are easily my favourites. The characters themselves are described in magnificent detail, all with their own funny little ways. The plots twist and turn like a raging river, and the humour…….well, let’s just say that is exactly on my wavelength. I’ve cried with laughter on many occasions reading some of Terry Pratchett’s books, and I can’t recall doing that for any other author I’ve read. If you’re a reading fan, you really must try one of his books.
So my favourite genres would have to be fantasy, science fiction followed by thrillers, in that order.
Have you ever skipped something important to stay at home and read a book? Details please!
Well of course there’s sleep. Definitely skipped a lot of sleep to read a lot of books. Most of the Star Wars expanded universe, not to mention most of the Harry Potter series and a lot of Terry Pratchett’s books. I do recall feigning illness to stay off work and read when I was a service engineer once. I can’t remember what book it was (I think one of the Star Wars expanded universe volumes) but that was a total one off.
Favorite book hero and / or villain and why?
Hero has to be Han Solo. What’s not to like? Serious attitude, courage, selfless despite outwards appearances, better than good with a gun and of course there’s the flying. A scoundrel for sure, but what a scoundrel.
As for villains…..it would have to be (sorry, spoilers for those who haven’t read the books) Jacen Solo, Han’s son from the Star Wars expanded universe. Reading about his journey, from sweet adolescent to tough but fair, no-nonsense jedi, to Sith lord was just heartbreaking, particularly because of some of the things he did once he’d attained Sith lord status. Good turned bad never felt so despicable.
If you could have a signed copy of a book by an author (dead or living) what book would it be and why?
It would have to be the Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett. My favourite book ever. The story is magnificent and the way he paints the characters with words is just outstanding. I must have read the book about ten times in all and it never gets boring. And there’s one part in there, that even as I’m writing this is making me laugh. I won’t go into details, but it’s when Gaspode the talking dog has to tell Carrot the name of the wolf. Makes me cry with laughter every time. What’s ironic about this is that I used to see the late Terry Pratchett in Salisbury (the city where I live) but never had the courage to go up to him. I’m a very shy person and wouldn’t dream of going up to anyone in the street that I didn’t know, especially a famous author like him. If I could go back in time, I most certainly would pluck up the courage to approach him, but only to tell him just how much pleasure his books have given me.
About your Books…
You are living in your latest novel. Where are you living, and what is it like?
I’m living underground in the dragon domain and it’s…..HOT! Unbelievably so. Rivers of brilliant molten magma roll across the landscape, twisting their way between houses, crisscrossing the different dragon metropolises. Crackling lava waterfalls drop hundreds of metres, throwing off steam and heat in abundance, keeping the secret underground world the kind of temperature its dragon inhabitants like. As well as HOT, it’s absolutely bonkers. Dragons stroll down oversized walkways, live in giant houses, work in monstrous office buildings, all going about their daily business, most of which in some way shape or form is related to the running of the planet, and the guidance and protection of the human population on the surface. Realistically a human being down here would be unlikely. Not only is it forbidden by the ruling dragon council, but they would struggle to survive given the heat, the diet, and in particular the jaw dropping monorail that can almost exceed the speed of sound.
Can you be heroic and naive?
For Peter Bentwhistle, the answer would most certainly have to be YES!
Blissfully unaware of what’s going on around him, for the most part he remains fully focused on blending in and keeping a low profile.
But fate and just plain bad luck have other designs on him.
Not so bad, you might think. Until you discover the TRUTH!
Just like his friends, Tank and Richie, he is a…..DRAGON!
Thrust into a life away from the underground dragon domain, disguised in an awkward human form in an effort to guide and protect humanity, all he has to do is stay out of trouble, learn how to play hockey and piece together all the parts of the puzzle continually playing out around him.
With the help of his two young friends, a master mantra maker and a complete dragon stranger with more than a little history attached to him, will Peter manage to thwart the dark, devious scheme long in the planning?
Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound?
Want to know how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes?
Learn the true story of George and the Dragon, get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and gain insight into what to do if you encounter a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile.
Lose yourself in this unputdownable fantasy adventure NOW
About Paul Cude
Paul Cude is a husband, father, field hockey player and aspiring photographer. Lost without his hockey stick, he can often be found in between writing and chauffeuring children, reading anything from comics to sci-fi, fantasy to thrillers. Too often found chained to his computer, it would be little surprise to find him, in his free time, somewhere on the Dorset coastline, chasing over rocks and sand in an effort to capture his wonderful wife and lovely kids with his camera. Paul Cude is also the author of the Bentwhistle the Dragon series of books.
You can also follow Paul on his social media sites!