Paul Samael

Biography

Paul Samael lives in the UK. He is the author of a novel ("In the future this will not be necessary") and several short stories, all of which are available free of charge on Smashwords and various other platforms. He also reviews free fiction by other self-published authors here: http://www.paulsamael.com/free-fiction-review.php

For more information, see my website (paulsamael.com).

Smashwords Interview

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I didn't set out to be an indie author - like many would-be writers, I had tried the conventional route to publication but the response wasn't encouraging. I then thought "well, what have I got to lose?" and put up some excerpts on a peer review site in the UK called Youwriteon. I was a lot more encouraged by the response from there and that gave me the confidence to self-publish, mainly on Smashwords and Feedbooks. I really like the fact that I'm in control of the whole process. It also means that I'm not under any pressure to write the kind of books that publishers think people want (there are already too many of those).
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Exeter, which is in the bottom left pointy bit of the UK, before you hit Cornwall and fall off into the sea. It was a nice place to grow up and I would love to say that it had a really profound influence on my writing, but that wouldn't be true. I think the main influence Exeter had on me is that if you come from there, you tend not to think that you are the best thing that's happened to literature since it was first invented - so it may explain why I was a bit of a late starter in trying to get my stuff published.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Paul Samael online


Books

The King of Infinite Space
By
Price: Free! Words: 2,150. Language: English. Published: October 18, 2013. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
A short story about a chance meeting with an old schoolfriend on a train. It's also about being alone with your thoughts. Or just about being alone.
The Pick Up
By
Price: Free! Words: 11,350. Language: British English. Published: March 22, 2013. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
(4.50)
After a bizarre incident in a playground leads to accusations of molesting someone else's child, a father of two turns to the media to defend himself - but gets rather more than he bargained for. A long-ish short story (11,000 words) about bringing up children, media hysteria and building sandcastles. "Faultless and compelling" (Michael Graeme).
In the future this will not be necessary
By
Price: Free! Words: 51,380. Language: English. Published: June 13, 2012. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
(5.00)
A thought-provoking novel about a technology-obsessed cult and the disillusioned narrator’s obsession with the cult leader’s wife. “Fluent [and] witty”, “Well written and teeming with interesting ideas”, “Fantastic” (comments by members of peer review site youwriteon).
Agricultural Production in the Sudan
By
Price: Free! Words: 1,020. Language: English. Published: January 29, 2012. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
(5.00)
A (very) short story about sunflowers, a Sheikh and the desire to change the world. Does not contain any statistics about Sudanese agriculture (sorry).
The Hardest Word
By
Price: Free! Words: 9,750. Language: English. Published: November 24, 2011. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
(4.50)
Does the banking crisis make you feel angry, frustrated and powerless? Perhaps it’s time you did something about that feeling. You could, for example, kidnap a banker. On second thoughts, don’t do that - try reading this short story instead.

Paul Samael’s tag cloud


Paul Samael's favorite authors on Smashwords


Smashwords book reviews by Paul Samael

  • Sonny's Guerrillas (a novella) on Feb. 08, 2012

    This novella about making an indie movie reminded me of a cross between “Hearts of Darkness” (a documentary about one or two, er, minor difficulties encountered by Francis Ford Coppola during the making of the film “Apocalypse Now”) and “The Beach” by Alex Garland (“Lord of the Flies” for the backpacker generation) - but with the action shifted from south-east Asia to Greece during the first throes of the financial crisis. It’s well written and sharply observed, with a very distinctive narrative voice. Although short (18,000 words), it’s just the length it needs to be (I am fed up with 400 page tomes that could have said what needed to be said in a quarter of that length – long live the novella!). For a longer review, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/sonny-s-guerrillas-by-matthew-asprey
  • Red Hills of Africa (a novella) on Feb. 08, 2012

    “Red Hills of Africa” is somewhat in the vein of Malcolm Bradbury/David Lodge satires on academic life - but with a lot more international travel involved. There was one particular passage about going through customs and immigration in Morocco which was so funny it nearly made me choke on my beer. I have committed the lines to memory in case I ever go there (although I don’t suppose I will have the nerve to actually say them to a Moroccan passport official….). It's well written and I enjoyed it, although overall, I preferred Matthew Asprey’s other novella, “Sonny’s Guerrillas” – for a longer review of that, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/sonny-s-guerrillas-by-matthew-asprey
  • To Murder My Love Is A Crime!: Stories of Desperate Men on Feb. 08, 2012

    I enjoyed these short stories – especially the first one, which is all about the wacky world of Hitchcock film memorabilia and has a great first person narrator. Matthew Asprey’s other ebooks – “Sonny’s Guerrillas” and “Red Hills of Africa” – are also well worth reading. For a longer of review of the former, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/sonny-s-guerrillas-by-matthew-asprey
  • Stories for Airports on July 15, 2012

    The title of this excellent series of short stories recalls Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports”; the stories are all about finding something unusual or out of the ordinary in the “background muzak” of everyday life that we would normally ignore. Taken as a whole, the collection reminded me somewhat of “Short Cuts” (the Robert Altman film rather than the Raymond Carver stories on which it was based); I had a similar “privileged” sense of dipping in and out of the everyday lives of a whole series of unconnected characters across the same city. This gave the book an unusual sense of coherence (despite the impressive diversity of styles and subject matter on display in the individual stories). An undiscovered Smashwords gem. Click here for a longer review: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/stories-for-airports
  • Besserwisser: A Novel (The Know-It-Alls) on July 29, 2012

    It’s easily done, isn’t it? One beer too many at the Munich Oktoberfest and somehow it becomes impossible to resist pretending that you’re a Fulbright scholar on the trail of sensational revelations about Hitler in the Munich archives. One thing leads to another and before you know it, you’ve also managed to attract (a) an enigmatic new girlfriend who seems, well, just a bit too good for you; and (b) the attention of some sinister but slightly inept neo-Nazi types. Well, this is what happens to our hero, Gordy, in this excellent comic novel from Steve Anderson. I particularly liked the deadpan humour but the author also manages to make Gordy sufficiently likeable (despite his many, many faults) that you care what happens to him – which is not always a given in fiction of this type. For a longer review, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/besserwisser
  • Falling on Aug. 25, 2012

    As noted by one of the previous reviewers, this is not a conventional “who dunnit” - the focus is more on the emotions of the detective who dealt with the case. The facts of the murder and the subsequent investigation are conveyed briefly, leaving most of the detail to your imagination – but the emotional impact is clear from the effect it has on the central character. The result (for this reader at least) is that you end up reconstructing aspects of the more conventional “who dunnit?” narrative in your head - so that by the time you’ve finished, the overall impact is closer to what you’d get from reading a much longer piece. Good work!
  • The End of the Circus on Aug. 25, 2012

    I agree with the other reviews here, but felt that this story was more than "just" a romance - it's also about the transient nature of existence as a source of both intense pleasure “in the moment” and sorrow/regret once that moment has gone, a theme which is handled with considerable delicacy and skill here.
  • Ledman Pickup on Sep. 21, 2012

    In a world of personal devices, how personal is too personal? Zoey Bridges makes her living testing gadgets – but on this occasion, the gadget she’s been sent doesn’t seem to do anything. She sends it back, only to discover (to her horror) that it’s got lost in transit. She and the gizmo’s obsessively secretive designers then try to track it down - but it seems to have developed a mind of its own. Aside from the gadget (and one or two other details), the world of the story is recognisably our own – and there is some enjoyable satire of high-powered corporate types and their more lowly minions. A well written, entertaining and thought-provoking story – well worth a read even if sci-fi is not usually your thing. For a longer review, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/ledman-pickup
  • Pigs and Other Living Things on Dec. 12, 2012

    This is a varied and well-crafted collection of 5 short stories. I particularly liked “Focus”, about a photographer’s encounter with a heron (made me wince) and “The Monitor,” about what you imagine when you inadvertently tune into someone else’s baby alarm (yes, been there). All the stories are based based around a single dramatic event – like a shooting at a store, an unexpected incident at a football game or an encounter with a wild pig – which helps to provide a focal point. I felt the title had a slightly ‘throwaway’ tone which didn’t entirely do justice to the seriousness of the author’s intent. But that's a very minor criticism, so don’t let it put you off giving this well written and intriguing collection a try. For a longer review, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/pigs-and-other-living-things
  • The Ant Farm on Feb. 02, 2013

    “The Ant Farm” is a quirky, engaging and very well-observed tragi-comic novel about statistics in the poultry industry and knitting. Hmmm, I sense that I may not be doing the book any favours with the second half of that sentence. OK, let’s try again: this tale of a high-powered sales exec who struggles to adapt to retirement and the demands of looking after his grand-daughter reminded me a little of the George Clooney film “Up in the Air” – both feature a self-centred protagonist whose identity is closely bound up with his work and both have a similar line in wry, humorous observation. But that’s largely where the parallels end, because ultimately “The Ant Farm” ends up exploring much darker territory – and as the previous reviewer has noted, the ending gives us all a very un-Hollywood dose of reality. For a longer review, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/the-ant-farm
  • Taken on May 03, 2013

    At first, I thought this was going to be in much the same vein as "The End of the Circus" or "A Pond in the Middle of Nowhere", two other short stories from this author (which I would also recommend). There is a similar gentleness of tone and focus on a particular moment in adolescence, which is skilfully conveyed and helps to draw the reader in. But without wishing to give too much away, that gentleness of tone is deployed to rather different effect here, so that by the end, the writing has taken on a much harder edge. A highly effective short story.
  • The Third Person on May 20, 2013

    This is a very impressive and unsettling literary novel. Lizzie, the narrator, is 14. Her father has left home and her mother doesn’t seem to be coping too well in his absence. Lizzie spends an unhealthy amount of time holed up in her bedroom, practising her calligraphy, tending her Victorian bottle collection and making devious and elaborate plans. These generally involve eloping with Mr Phillips, the shopkeeper (if only he would stop being so obtuse and realise that he and Lizzie are destined to be together), or exacting revenge upon people who have displeased her (there is no shortage of candidates, although her younger sister provides a particular focus for Lizzie’s ire). But things don’t turn out quite as Lizzie hopes – and although the novel contains a fair amount of humour, it ends up exploring some fairly dark territory (which I won’t say any more about for fear of spoiling the plot). What really made this novel work for me was Lizzie’s narration - which I found utterly compelling, in spite of the fact that she is hardly sympathetic, being both highly manipulative and at times vindictive. Overall, the novel reminded me of a cross between Zoe Heller’s “Notes on a Scandal” and Iain Banks’ “The Wasp Factory.” For a slightly longer review which (among other things) explains this possibly slightly bizarre comparison in more detail, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/the-third-person
  • Trade (A Novelette) on May 26, 2013

    “Trade” is narrated from a point in the not too distant future when an internet platform (a sort of cross between Facebook and Ebay) has radically changed the way that people approach sex. Sometimes you have a feeling from the first page that something is going to be worth reading - and for me, “Trade” delivered on that initial promise. The premise was sufficiently intriguing and enough happened in terms of plot to justify the label “novelette,” with its implication that the story will deliver some of the things you would normally expect from a longer work. A gripping and thought-provoking read. For a longer review, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/trade-by-lochlan-bloom
  • Shen on June 12, 2013

    "Shen" is an engagingly offbeat science fiction novel which the author describes (slightly tongue-in-cheek) as “space opera for the unprepared”. I particularly enjoyed Part 1 which manages to combine elements of popular realist literary fiction (e.g. the main character is having an extra-marital affair etc) with an intriguing sci-fi premise (the main character keeps finding himself on an alien spaceship, but it’s not clear why – and the other people/beings on board don’t seem too clear about it either). Part 2 sees the action move to a different planet and the focus of the novel shifts to more conventional sci-fi/fantasy territory. However, it is still quite ambitious in its attempt to depict the interplay between different racial/cultural/religious groups (Part 2 reminded me of the late Iain Banks’ “Culture” novels and Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series). For a longer review, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/shen-by-heather-douglass
  • Red Hotel On The Strand on June 12, 2013

    Is it too lazy to say "I agree with Bernard Fancher'"? Probably, but as I've just done a longer review of Heather Douglass' novel, "Shen", I hope she can forgive the total lack of effort that has gone into this review....
  • Corpus Callosum on Aug. 01, 2013

    This is an excellent literary novel with a sci-fi element (but if you are not a big fan of sci-fi, don’t let that put you off, because the focus is much more on the characters than the science). Joey and Jeannette are twin sisters. When Joey is fatally injured in a fire, Jeannette can’t face the thought of life without her – so she pays the good folk at LifeMedia to have Joey’s mind uploaded into a “BrightBox” (this is the main sci-fi element – but in most other respects, the world of the story is very similar to our own and the focus is very much on the characters rather than the science). At first it seems to have worked – but as time goes on, Joey starts to wonder if she now has more in common with other BrightBox “uploadees” than with “breathers” like her sister. On top of which, it seems that the technology may not be entirely bug-free. Although it starts off relatively gently and appears to be primarily character-driven, the plot soon gathers momentum and I found it hard to put down. It also gave me a lot to think about – for example, to what extent do our bodies dictate the way we think and behave? Would we start to become different people if we no longer had human bodies, like the uploadees? An intriguing and very thought-provoking novel. For a longer review, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/corpus-callosum Oh and one more thing – for what it’s worth, I’m not the only person who enjoyed this novel. It has attracted a clutch of similarly positive reviews on Amazon too. See: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corpus-Callosum-Anatomy-ebook/dp/B00CYP6YCC
  • The Prodigals on Oct. 09, 2013

    This is a good novel – but it’s quite episodic and unconventional in its approach (so you may need to be a bit patient with it at first). For example, we are introduced to the main character, Travis, in the first chapter – but then, aside from a couple of fleeting appearances, he vanishes from sight until about half way through. The first half of the book, meanwhile, divides its time largely between three other characters - Brian, Howard and Declan - who are connected to Travis (but fairly loosely connected). Brian and Howard are close friends who are both into religion – but a row over a seemingly trivial incident in a pub drives them apart. Howard joins the police but is traumatised after witnessing a shooting. Declan, meanwhile, becomes increasingly withdrawn and retreats to his bedsit, where he ponders the meaning of his rather soulless existence. The second part of the novel tells how Travis went from being one of the brightest pupils at his school to dropping out at 15-16, leaving home and eking out a living in a succession of dead-end jobs, not seeing his parents for over ten years. It’s a difficult book to categorise, combining gritty social realism with existentialist musings on why we’re here and what the point of it all is – which might make it sound quite heavy going, but in fact, it has a lot to offer in the way of lively incident and wry humour. All in all, an ambitious, well written and unconventional literary novel (would've given it 4.5 stars if Smashwords had allowed this). Not everyone will like it, but it’s free (or it was at the time of this review), so why not give it a go? For a longer review, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/the-prodigals-by-frank-burton
  • In Durleston Wood on Oct. 19, 2013

    This is an impressive and intriguing psychological novel, whose undercurrent of violence/threat and sexual tension reminded me of some of Ian McEwan’s work. Although he may sound like a hopeless case, Richard, the central character, proves to be an engaging and sympathetic narrator, with a keen observational sense and a high degree of self-awareness. This prevents him from wallowing in self-pity and allows him to see the occasionally humorous side of his own predicament. And then there is the question of how much of what we are reading is actually real. After all, here we have a central character who spends quite a lot of his time wandering around Durleston Wood, sometimes holding imaginary conversations with previous girlfriends from long ago - so who’s to say that certain parts of the novel presented as “reality” aren’t in fact an elaborate fantasy on his part? Come to that, who’s to say that the entire novel isn’t essentially a symbolic representation of competing impulses battling it out in Richard’s head ? For me, this ambiguity made “In Durleston Wood” all the more complex and intriguing. But you can just as easily take it at face value and read it as a more straightforward mystery/romance. For a longer review, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/in-durleston-wood
  • 3 on Nov. 03, 2013

    3 is a collection of three gripping short stories – which almost feel like mini-novellas. My personal favourites were "Home Movie" and "Fake." I think one of the common themes linking them all is an interest in what's real and what's fictional (and how the fictional can have an impact on real life). That might sound like we are heading off into rather tricksy, ultra-ironic, post-modernist territory - but although there are a few nods in that direction, the focus is on the story-telling (and this author can really tell a good story). For a slightly longer review, see: http://www.paulsamael.com/blog/3-by-moxie-mezcal
  • The Hole in the Wall on Feb. 05, 2014

    This is a very good short read. Caroline and Michael are middle class academics with a young son, Oscar. They live in a house with a hole in the wall – the mysterious contents of which are at the centre of this story. Oscar meets a girl called Treasure, of whom both his parents are rather wary, since she appears to come from a much more deprived background. Those concerns appear to be justified when Oscar starts having nightmares and goes missing from school. But the real mystery has to do with Treasure’s past and the reason she has been hanging around Caroline and Michael’s house. Cleverly told from 5 different perspectives but with a dark undertone to it, this reminded me in some respects of Ian McEwan's "The Cement Garden." For a longer review, see: http://paulsamael.com/blog/the-hole-in-the-wall
  • Lewis and Loeb (a novella) on March 01, 2014

    I enjoyed this too - it's in similar vein to "Red Hills of Africa" by the same author, satirising the academic and literary pretensions of its hero, Lewis, as he attempts to inject some historical accuracy into a TV series whose target audience probably couldn't give two hoots about the correct formation of the quincunx by Roman infantry fighting the Picts in Scotland. You may well not give two hoots about the correct formation of the quincunx either, but it's quite funny watching the whole disaster unfold....
  • Abraham The Anchor Baby Terrorist on March 08, 2014

    This is an interesting and well written novel. It's about an attempt by Islamic terrorists to insert a “sleeper” agent into the US by smuggling a pregnant Algerian woman into the country; her son, Abraham, is to be raised as a terrorist. The author skilfully keeps you guessing as to whether Abraham will turn out as intended by his terrorist mentors and after a slightly slow start, I found it hard to put down. It has interesting things to say about terrorism, immigration and racism – but it can be read on a number of different levels (for example, you could see it as being about free will versus fate or nature versus nurture). Although a gripping story, it’s not really a thriller; instead, try to imagine the writers of “The Wire” doing with terrorism what they did with drug crime (but minus the law enforcement angle). Then re-imagine that as a literary novel with shades of “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid. If (as is entirely possible) you're not sure what I'm driving at with these slightly convoluted comparisons, you can read a longer review here: http://paulsamael.com/blog/abraham-the-anchor-baby-terrorist
  • Pedalling Backwards on Sep. 28, 2014

    This is a very well written literary novel. Based on the blurb, you could be forgiven for thinking that it might be a teeny bit hard going – and be warned that Lizzie, the narrator, can be infuriating at times. But finding out why she was behaving that way was one of the reasons I kept reading. The other main reason was the quality of the writing - for instance, I found myself nodding in recognition at the depictions of the awkwardness of group and family behaviour in the various “set pieces” on the island (the novel weaves between these and Lizzie reflecting on various events in her past – not just the loss of her baby, but her relationship with her sister as well). It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I really enjoyed it - for a longer review, which may help you decide if this is your cup of tea, see: http://paulsamael.com/blog/pedalling-backwards