Author: Paul Roberts

Publisher: Action-Pak Media

ISBN: 978-0-615-29510-7

Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Paul Roberts author of Permanent Enemy.

Good day Paul and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? As a follow up, did you read any special books on how to write?

Paul:

I was in high school at the time, and I was a voracious reader. Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, I was exposed to a limitless supply of American paperback thrillers from British publishers, who distributed to the Commonwealth. I think about 95% of the leisure books I was reading at the time were American and British novels, the other 5% were African village stories—the cute morality tales that didn’t blow things up, didn’t undress a pin-up type female assassin, or crash a car through somebody’s living room in a high-speed chase with rapid firefight. I knew at that early stage that I wanted to become a writer, and that the style of writing I wanted to pursue wasn’t—and still isn’t—expected from an African writer.

So in a sense, I’m an anomaly. Some of my detractors have said things like: “You’re a Black writer—why are you writing about White people?” or “White people don’t read Black writers.” Unfortunately, what they aren’t aware of is the fact that most of my readers are Caucasian and other non-Blacks since PERMANENT ENEMY is an international thriller that transcends race, color, religion and ethnicity. It’s a story that affects us all—directly or indirectly—as human beings. It’s about the injustices and goodness of human kind, period.

Did I read any special books on how to write? I read so many of them over the years that I’ve now lost count. They were quite helpful. I remember that a few were far more helpful than others. But after a while, the recommended techniques started becoming confusing and contradictory. That’s when I felt that I had read enough. Even so, occasionally, I still pick up a useful advice, particularly from those written by very successful literary agents. Also, I think it helps a great deal to write more often than you read because knowing various writing techniques is one thing, successfully implementing them is another—and that comes only from writing, more writing, and more re-writing. Then, gradually, the process becomes less and less mechanical, and grows more intuitive. Soon, the techniques become second nature—they become sown into your psyche. And you find that you’ve developed your own unique voice and style. I think at that point, you go from being a writer to being a storyteller—if the talent and vision are there.

Norm

What do you see as the influences on your writing?

Paul:

First, I’m an action thriller die-hard, particularly those that are international in scope and offer a visceral, almost cinematic experience as opposed to thrillers that are heavily internal and are essentially intellectual jigsaw puzzles laden with overly technical details, and mind-numbing characterization. Sadly, the marketplace seems to be saturated with this type of thrillers. Consequently, fewer and fewer thriller novels are making a successful transition to the big screen as major motion pictures. I think this is an indirect consequence of major publishers demanding thicker books that are sold at a much higher retail price. So a 200-page story is stretched and published as a 600-page “Action-packed thriller.” I think that phrase has now lost its true meaning because too often, as a reader, I buy into the hype, only to be disappointed because I didn’t get what was promised, what I paid for. And, naturally, when readers’ choices are limited to what’s being served to them, some of these “thrillers” do become what I call “artificial bestsellers” meaning they make a lot of money because readers lack something better to read.

Secondly, as a socially-conscious citizen of this planet earth, I follow world events—socio-political and economic. I see and read about so much injustice around the globe, and at times, about the courageous and humanitarian efforts being expended by the forces of good, and I’m inspired to write a fictionalized account that allows me to comment on these pressing, globally-relevant issues—while entertaining an audience at the same time. In that sense, writing novels empowers me a great deal.

Norm:

What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?


Paul:


First and foremost: I devise a compelling plot. Then I plan a few chapters in sequence; sketch out two or three main characters and then I start writing the first chapter. I write the story in sequence because I’ve found that it makes it easier for me to consistently maintain the internal logic of the story. A second reason is because no matter how much I plan, when I start writing the novel, most of the time, the characters start doing and saying more interesting things than I’d originally planned. So I’d abandon the original plan and simply go with the flow, but I carefully micro-manage what is happening.


And when it stops being interesting, I’d return to the last point in the story where I stopped enjoying it. I’d delete the boring part, usually a page or two. Then I’d think hard about what should happen next. It might take a few minutes or as long as several hours to come up with the next sequence of exciting events. I follow this process till the entire novel is done. I live along the coast—in Miami Beach, Florida—and I find that taking long walks on the beach help clear my mind and unleash fresh waves of new ideas. A tall glass of Pina Colada, or Cuban Mojito at one of the sidewalk cafes on our world-famous Ocean Drive have yielded comparable results.


Norm:


With your debut novel Permanent Enemy, are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Paul:


Some are based on events in my own life. My maternal grandmother died in an ethnic cleansing in Nigeria in the late sixties. It was called the Biafra war, or the Nigerian civil war. But essentially, it was a genocide campaign waged to control natural resources—crude oil in particular. And then, there was the genocide in Rwanda, where roughly a million people were hacked to death over a three-year period, while the international community did very little to end the carnage until the equivalent of a small country had already been wiped out. The true-life reports of corruption at the United Nations, particularly the Iraq oil-for-food scandal also served as a source of inspiration. So did well-documented acts of political corruption in the United States and elsewhere, particularly in an instance, where a U.S. Congressman from New Orleans was arrested by the FBI for accepting bribes from the Nigerian government, and stashing the money away in his freezer.


The crisis in Darfur, the Congos, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the complicity of some foreign powers, entities, and individuals in enabling and prolonging the carnage and human suffering in return for strategic and personal gains, such as lucrative mining contracts, armament deals, kickbacks on foreign aids, and huge commissions for moving billions in stolen money out of Africa and into banks around the world—all motivated me to write PERMANENT ENEMY. Dramatizing Africa’s existential struggles between the powerful and the powerless, and how these struggles could profoundly impact the lives of Americans, Europeans, Asians—and just about everyone else on the globe, through a chain reaction of events—became just as important to me as entertaining the reader.


Norm:


How did you go about creating your protagonist in Permanent Enemy, Brett Collins?


Paul:


First, I wanted a hero who shared some of my values and world view. I also wanted a hero that I could look up to—an extraordinary human being, who isn’t afraid to do the right thing regardless of the consequences. Lastly, I wanted him to make me laugh occasionally. So with these qualities in mind, and a name that’s easy to pronounce and remember, it was relatively easy to create an action hero that readers would admire.


Norm:


What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Permanent Enemy?

Paul:


That I was capable of creating a much bigger and far more compelling story than I’d set out to. By allowing myself to go with the flow—which was scary at times—and by not forcing the story into a pre-determined path, I was able to discover new ideas, more unique action sequences, superior cliffhangers and bold, powerful statements along the way. I’m not the same writer that I was when I started the process. It’s true what they say that: the more you write, the better you get. However, from a creative standpoint, I think dramatic improvement comes only when you’re willing to set aside pre-conceived ideas and see where the story would take you. It tends to write itself. And if you’re already starting out with a compelling plot, it tends to stimulate your imagination in such a magical way that, before you know it, great scenes and dialog start popping up faster than you can write them. This is when you become captive to your computer for 12 or 14 hours at a time, having repeated creative orgasms.


Norm:


If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Paul:


The late Robert Ludlum, author of THE BOURNE IDENTITY. Reading his spy thrillers thought me to think global in my plotting. And that I could say just about anything about any government or intelligence agency as long as it’s balanced and I call it a thriller. Sure, it might earn you a secret dossier by some of these entities, or the occasional denial of entry visa by the more repressive and insecure regimes, but I love writing about international conspiracies, among other things.


Norm:


What has been the best part about being published?


Paul:


Holding a Hollywood movie rights contract with my name on it; reading the compensation clauses, including upfront and backend payments, blockbuster bonuses, sequel and television series options with commensurate compensations—and realizing that, under the right circumstances, and with proper financial management, a single Hollywood movie deal could set up a writer financially for generations. That’s powerful.


Norm:


What do you think of the new Internet market for writers?


Paul:


I think it’s the great equalizer for talented writers whose work are being overlooked or ignored by traditional publishers. Recently, I read about a 26-year old, who self-published nine of her fantasy novels on Amazon’s kindle after being rejected by mainstream publishers, and went on to earn about $2million in royalties in one year. That is quite remarkable, and perhaps one of the best examples that gone are the days when a talented writer can be censored or prevented from earning a living. I think the challenge now is knowing how to effectively market one’s writing on the internet. Some writers are more adept at it than others.


Norm:


What is next for Paul Roberts and where can our readers find out more about you and Permanent Enemy?


Paul:


Right now, I’m completing a second thriller, IN HAVANA THEY SHALL DIE! It should be available in a couple of months. And the best place for readers to find out more about me and my books is at my website: http://www.actionpakmedia.com


Norm:


Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors


Paul:


Norm, thank you so much for this great opportunity. It’s been an immense pleasure.


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