Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Ray Palla author of Krill America and his most recent one, Simple Triple Standard.
Ray's first paying job as a writer, editing and reporting news was for a small daytime AM radio station in Central Texas. And by the time Ray was a high school junior he had graduated to be a morning show news producer for the top station in Austin. Subsequently, Ray progressed professionally to become afternoon news anchor at Houston’s number one KIKK-AM/FM.
Over a thirty year career Ray interviewed astronauts who walked on the moon like Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin and the late Neil A. Armstrong, U.S. Senators like J. J. (Jake) Pickle, Lieutenant Governors, Texas Governors Dolph Briscoe & Mark White, and a host of other influential notables including: musicians, actors, comedians, sports legends, and every day people. Keeping an eye on the writing, Ray not only broke world news stories to the Associated Press, but he also boasts awards for several national advertising campaign jingles for customers that include Ford, Purina, and Exxon. Ray has even received an award as an international poetry contestant.
Eventually, Ray changed career paths to become a successful computer database programmer for nearly twenty years.
Norm: Good day Ray and thanks for participating in our interview.
When did you first consider yourself a writer and what keeps you going?
Ray: Hello Norm, and many thanks to you for the invitation, it’s a pleasure to visit with you.
When I was twelve years old I wrote a poem about the symbolism of Santa Clause at Christmas after my youngest sister was deeply crushed when she learned about the mythical illusion of Jolly Old St. Nick. The poem, “Why Must Young Children Hear Lies” made my mother cry, which was not my intention, but I realized then the power of the written word. Today, I write for many reasons including a desire to create a legacy and make a difference in the world, and still today, I have a continued driving internal need to expose and open a discussion on any injustices I may perceive.
Norm: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing particularly your career in radio?
Ray: Writing for radio is a completely different animal than writing novels, especially writing for news events. In broadcast writing, the objective is always to tell the most pertinent factual information in the shortest amount of time. Every second counts.
When writing a novel the human senses become much more important. Every smell, the ticking of a clock, the nuance of humanity becomes necessarily much more demanded by a reader. In some ways, a radio mindset is a detriment to the creative process for storytelling, but I’ve learned to use it to my advantage.
I find that I now write an outline rather quickly, moving through the scenes rapidly with a reporter perspective, acquiring the ending in post haste. That allows me to generate a plot with little distraction. After I complete that process I return to the story and embellish it with the fine-tuned touches of more personal feelings, thoughts, and desires.
On a side note, my upbringing in a small town with limited resources where I began working at a young age is something else that has colored my writing in the form of a strong work ethic. I wake up each day with a natural inclination to accomplish a specific goal and rarely run into writer’s block or a reason not to move forward.
Norm: Do you have a specific writing style and did you read any special books on how to write?
Ray: I’m not sure what it might be called, but I write like I think the character would talk. I use vernacular and phrasing as if I were speaking the words or relating a memory to someone who has a vested interest.
never read books on “how to” write. I didn’t go to college
either. Writing just comes naturally to me. I guess it’s a gift (or
curse if you will). It’s funny to me that people say, “you must
be an avid reader to be a successful writer.”
As a news reporter, most of my day was comprised of reading, either forced for research or mandated by required fact finding for fodder. As a result, reading became a job to me that I expected to get paid to do. For that reason, I rarely read for pleasure. I do however research things that I deem capable of enhancing my knowledge or vision toward a specific objective. I had to read a lot about Antarctica and krill to write Krill America, and in reality that was a genuine pleasure, but only in the sense that it helped me achieve a goal. I hope that doesn’t sound selfish, but it’s true.
Norm: What helps you focus when you write and do you find it easy reading back your own work?
Ray: The human mind is an amazing mechanism. If I find I’ve lost my direction or can’t quite seem to unravel a particular yarn, I take a break and do something completely different, or even sleep. Inevitably I will see a parallel in real life, or simply wake up with a solution to a quandary, a keener focus. Even when away from the subject, the mind continues to work the puzzle.
Regarding reading back through my own work… It again becomes a job to me, so I just “go to work” for the day. After the tenth or twelfth review and editing process, I begin to get weary of the fact that it seems I’m never satisfied; I always find something to modify, rearrange, or enhance. I believe that’s called OCD.
Norm: What inspired you to write Krill America and your most recent novel, Simple Triple Standard? As a follow up, could you tell our audience a little about both books?
Ray: Krill America was inspired by a desire to “feed the world” during a time in my life when I was seeking self-improvement and still young enough to believe I might be able to help change the world for the better.
Krill America is an aged seaman’s action-suspense-thriller and a research vessel tasked to feed the world while sequestered in the most treacherous place on earth. Broken and set adrift in an Antarctic sea of chaos saturated in relentless tension and fed by self-doubt the ship’s crew triumphs in a stunning humanity baring conclusion. Often compared to Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, or Titanic, Krill America is the story of man’s redemption and his measure of success.
Simple Triple Standard was aroused by a personal need to explain double standards in society and whether or not they are justifiable.
Simple Triple Standard is historical fiction gnawing the gut of local radio news reporter Bryant L Herman in a close-knit community rife with extrapolated double standards that garner deadly impact. Every day we are affected by standards, whether we perceive their presence or not—and while "The Real Official, Almost True Backstory for Modern Commercial Radio" is delusive, Bryant’s recollect reveals a great deal of truth. If you've ever lived in a small town or close-knit community, you know about double standards. “How much more complicated can a triple standard be, right?” World famous Austin music celebrities, and behind the scenes radio personalities embody this genuine 1970s Texas-style nostalgic romp which also includes love and passion, and an unexpected lethal twist.
Norm: What purpose do you believe your stories serve and what matters to you about the stories?
Ray: I hope my stories serve to give readers an insight into themselves, and a renewal for their own individuality and spirit. I like (I imagine) how an old American Indian chief sat around a campfire and told a tale that not only held his tribe in fascination, but also led his people down a path to distinctly personal perceptions, conclusions, and a sense of living the experience themselves. I would like to be known as an author who allows someone to vividly smell a rose, rather than just someone who describes the scent in merely colorful words.
Norm: Did you know the endings of your books at the beginning?
Ray: I imagine that every writer has an ending in mind before ever writing his very first word. At least, that’s always true for me. But in the case of each of my writings, I find that the stories grow legs over the course of the six months (or more) that they take to construct. A book builds on itself and has a life of its own. With Krill America, I didn’t fully figure out exactly what I ultimately wanted to have happen until I was half way into the book. I ended up re-writing several of the first few chapters to accommodate the final scenes. Believe me, that ending surprised me as much as it does anyone else. I’m really proud of it, too. It puts the book in its own league.
Norm: Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
Ray: I believe I’m becoming a better confidant for friends and more honest with myself. I don’t think you can write about being human without exposing a lot of who you are. That exposure can feel like a huge risk and can be daunting at times. I’ve come to terms (somewhat) with personal confrontation and I consider the result from that internal argument to be well worth the journey into the valley of private shadows.
Norm: Was there anything you found particularly challenging in writing your books?
Ray: My instinct leads me to want to please everyone, all the time. I’ve had individuals with differing opinions read my materials and upon hearing their interpretation I’ve often been inclined to alter my work. I have to keep reminding myself that everyone sees things from a different perspective. If you show ten people a dog, you will get ten opinions of how the dog looks and smells. In reality, the dog looks with his eyes, and only he can tell you how things smell through his nose, but he’s not talking. That’s a silly analogy, but it rings true to me. The challenge is to write what you know and how you really feel. As long as you’re true to yourself, no one can dispute you.
Norm: In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?
Ray: Personally, I think there are too many adjectives in the world. It’s a wildly “cray, cray” world! Also, social media makes exaggeration the norm rather than the exception to the rule. A simple statement of fact is, for me, often more powerful than any view through “rose colored glasses,” or dancing and prancing around conceptual subject matter with hip-gyrating embellishment. If it’s “fluff,” it’s generally not necessary unless your pillow is flat… and if your pillow is flat, you may need a new pillow.
Norm: What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Ray: If it genuinely matters to you, it’s worth thought and discussion. If you can dream it, it can be created. If you believe in yourself, someone will be happy you shared. Just your voice and only one other is enough for a full conversation.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your novels?
Hardcovers, paperbacks, and eBooks are available on AMAZON and in great bookstores everywhere. If a favorite bookstore doesn’t have it in stock, request it; they can certainly order it for you.
Norm: What is next for Ray Palla?
Ray: I haven’t decided yet, Norm. I have two novels in mind and can’t yet make up my mind on which one to do next. There’s always the possibility of a sequel to Simple Triple Standard. On the other hand “I have a gut in my wrench” (I meant to say it that way) to write a completely different story about government and judicial corruption… one that’s been hounding my brain’s back burners for about three years now. I’ll let you know what I decide after the beginning of next year. I enjoy autumn in Texas… I’m taking a couple of months for myself, but soon, when the passion begins nagging like a festered woman, I’ll just sit down one day and start writing something new. I enjoy the escape!
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Ray: Norm, you’ve been especially engaging and hospitable. I wouldn’t presume to put words or questions in your mouth. You are a kind man for hosting my rants and musings to your own end.
Norm: Thanks again and good luck with all of your future ventures.
Ray: Thank YOU and enjoy the Canadian fall colors again this season. Wish I could be there for them with you—YOU and a thick BLT sandwich, aye!