Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. For those of you who are not a member of the clubhouse won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit the clubhouse is via membership or invite to the clubhouse tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation I’ve had with a guest over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, about their work in progress, or latest book release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Today, I welcome A.L. Paradiso to the Clubhouse Tearoom for a chat. Before I start asking my questions, what would you like to drink?
Hot chocolate, please.
Now we have a drinks I shall start by asking you how many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
About 8 mainstream, 48 special projects and a queue of 270 (10-90% done, low priority). I also have three books in progress.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? If you only write short stories, do you plan your story, or let the characters lead you?
I write mostly short stories. I rarely plan them, but depend on prompts or inspiration. Once I figure where my seminal image fits in the story, I flesh out the characters — their backgrounds, desires, what they are willing to do to get there. As I start writing the seminal image, the setup and resolution resolve in my head. Soon after, the characters become alive and I get in their heads and let them write their story. I learned NOT to fight them.
Choosing only five of your favourite authors. Can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
1- Joe Stracynski, Babylon 5 author; I thank and curse him for getting me into creative writing. He’s been online for B5 background and insider info since MY SPACE was hot, 2 years before B5 was sold. When he explained his writing process, it made sense to me and I began to think I could do that — not the tome of 122 cohesive chapters of B5, or even the impressive overall arc and mini arcs. I had been thinking of recording 3 main traumas and his tips made me believe I could do that. I have since written two of them, fifty years and twenty-two years after the events. The third took me thirty-five years to even start.
I try to follow his style and advice.
2- Ursula LeGuin taught me to let imagination fly free even in restrictive settings. Lathe of Heaven is my favorite movie and made from her book. The book is among my top choices.
3- Anne McCaffrey and her Dragonriders of PERN series (I’m on book 15 of 26, for my 6th time through the series). I’m not a Fantasy fan, but this award winning ScfFi series won me over on the first page of the first book. I’m still decoding how she gets us so involved with her characters that each reread is like visiting old friends again. Several of her books bring on tears; one brings dread when I start it since I know where it ends and I hate it, and love it.
4- Tolkein: Again, not a Fantasy fan. I avoided reading LotR (and DroP) for years. When I finally started on the Hobbit, I couldn’t put it down. His writing is so immersive and vivid that when I read the Hobbit for hours, my feet and muscles ached as I traveled with Bilbo. The realism he wrote into each scene and character is amazing. Who knew there are so many names for a pile of dirt?
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
Usually not. I clear my head, tell my left brain to SHUT UP, and surrender to my right brain’s connection to the ethers. I plant a thought, or just open up to the energy around us. Shortly I see small, white dots tumbling through space, accreting into ever bigger dots until these thought dots come into focus. About then, I get my seminal image. That’s usually in a white, 5×7″ frame and rocking as it gets closer and I can see it. Sometimes it’s a GIF-like moving image, often it’s a still frame.
At that point, I don’t yet know where that image fits in the story, but as I try to describe it, I get a sense of what has to come before it and where the story ends. Then the words just FLOW.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Most are a mix of real people. My muse and main character in my EMANCIPATION (Pygmalion type) novel looks exactly like a relative and has most of her traits.
What did you learn when writing your book or story? In writing it, how much research did you do?
That I’m a teacher and storyteller at heart, but writing reaches so many more people than I could ever hope to any other way. Have 124 stories under a pen name. Those alone have more than 4.83 million views as of 9/6/20.
Research varies with the topic. I watch science programs to stay current with the latest theories they let us see, and draw on that. I’ve used my Physics, Math, Anatomy and Psych learning in many stories. Yet there are always specifics to look up. For one story I wrote, I needed to know how long x number of people can survive in a sealed room of various sizes. My initial guess was far off. There is a formula and detailed explanation for this and I used them in the story.
In chapter seven in my TIMEGASMS story, I have my time traveler go visit JFK to guide him through the Cuban Missile crises. To find a plausible date to drop her, I did more than fifty hours research to recreate his October 1962 daily calendar and, with less detail, for the years around that. She will appear in March at a certain, infamous party. Besides ‘visiting’ his and Jackie’s calendars and museums, I found newly released FBI and NSA memos, and diaries of several close friends. There were several items I didn’t need to know! That chapter isn’t published since I still need details about the traveler and her investments across time.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
That I use four pen names according to the topic or sensitivity of the story.
That have been a volunteer driver safety instructor for AARP for 21 years.
That I taught business computing at a local college.
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your books whether that be a long forgotten memory, a positive experience etc?
Yes. It was years after a motorcycle ‘crash’ before I realized I had a view of the incident from far behind me. Research helped me understand the realty part of the time dilation I felt and how my mind constructed that third-eye image from all the data it collected.
When I finally wrote two of the three traumas that drove me to write, I did recall several forgotten memories.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Since I’m officially retired, I’m free to write all day — after clearing my varied email and Facebook baggage.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
No, except for NANOWRIMO days. There are days I get zero on paper and days I’ve written more than 8000 words.
How many hours in a day do you write?
If you include conceptualizing, research and arranging elements before typing anything, and I do, probably ten plus.
How do you select the names of your characters? & do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
Usually, I let my right brain pick them. When I’m writing about couples, I found it easier to keep them straight if their names start with the same letter. They usually come easily to me. If they don’t, I read some baby names sites and find a good fit.
There was one exception in Emancipation. I had a new guy come in and couldn’t name him. The 1000s of baby names were no help so I left it blank and fleshed out the scene – or planned to. I wrote, “Hi, my name is Valen” Where did that come from? I searched the baby names for it — it wasn’t there. Valen is a Babylon 5 character who is nothing like my character. So I left it and blamed his B5 fan parents.
What was your hardest scene to write?
That varies. The two traumas I wrote about were gut wrenching all the way, but those are nonfiction.
There is a short scene I wrote that still chokes me up. In my WW4 story, I had the captain and his XO in a long term and deeply committed relationship. They’d been through battles together and were both decorated heroes. After a troubled trip which nearly destroyed the ship, they crashed on Enceledus and she was gravely injured. Doctors said she could not recover and would be in huge pain until the end despite her meds. She begged for relief from her broken body, but he couldn’t do it. After many days of intense pain, he agreed to give her mercy — and we both cried. 😥
How long on average does it take you to write a book or story?
Varies greatly. In my writing group, we start with random prompts and have twenty minutes to brainstorm and write a rough draft. My stories there have run from 220 words to 800. I have published many of those. I write for an Australian contest monthly — we get 55 hours to write 500 words using their tricky prompts. I typically do that in three hours once I resolve an idea — that’s the rough draft, 1st draft, edits, 2nd draft, edits, proofing.
My DUMBISTAN story has been 99% written for three years. I know what the final scene has to be, but I felt great resistance to writing it and haven’t fought it. My muse is watching.
You are very welcome.
For more information about A.L Paradiso’s books click on this link:
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