Interview with Paul Drye

When did you first start writing?
I messed about with amateur stuff since my early teens. My first professional sales were in 2000, role-playing games articles for the old Traveller RPG. The bulk of my work so far has been for that and related settings.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The very first one? God, no. I've been reading since I was small enough to pick up a book. Who knows what it was?

I'm probably going to get a bunch of counterexamples thrown in my face, but I'd question if there are many writers who read their first book when they were old enough to remember doing it -- exceptional situations like Frederick Douglass and Helen Keller notwithstanding.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Oh wow...the first one I can remember was one I wrote in a school exercise book when I was about five or six. "The Baby Gang" I think. The premise was a bunch of babies, each with a single distinguishing characteristic like Smurfs or something, out having crazy adventures. On second thought, "no comment".
Who are your favorite authors?
As a kid I read the usual suspects, and probably favored Robert Heinlein and H. Beam Piper most. I also loved a fairly obscure young adult SF author by the name of Alexander Key -- he's almost entirely out of print now, and if he's known at all it's for the Disney adaptations of his Witch Mountain books. I still re-read some of their work every now and then, when I'm in the mood to look past their dated or problematic ideas and just enjoy the ride.

For the last few years my favorites have run toward Neil Gaiman (surely the equivalent of saying "I like travel" on a dating website) and Guy Gavriel Kay. Charles Stross and Lois McMaster Bujold are always fun reads too, and the more obscure names I pay attention to as Robert Charles Wilson and Steven Gould. For straight SF I find I read a lot of anthologies more than longer works.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I take things little by little. Sometimes my head is buzzing and I look a year ahead or more, but I find I'm happier in a day-today timeframe or even shorter. I like little things, whatever they are.
What is your writing process?
For non-fiction, I write in chunks. Research a topic, pick out the interesting bits and nail down the details that get missed, then knock off a couple of thousand words about it in a fairly short time because I've been soaking in the results of the research for a while. Repeat numerous times on similar small topics until it piles up into a book.

Fiction I let surprise me. I usually have a good idea of where I'm starting and where I'm ending, and a few high points I want to hit along the way, but I like to let it develop its own nuances as I go. Just start and point A and keep writing until I get to point Z.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I've got a first-generation iPad that I picked up for cheap when the second generation came out. It's served me well since then, from lying on the bed paging through something to keeping me occupied while making long train trips through Europe.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Passing Strangeness grew out of my love for 70s weirdness like Bigfoot and UFOs. I went from true believer to skeptic in my early teens, not long after that sort of thing faded away for a generation, but I always kind of missed the sense of mystery and strangeness they brought to me. When I tried to square the circle all I kept finding were books that were either really credulous or revisited the same things over and over again. Take for example how Atlantis has been explained as the Thera Explosion. Great bit of speculative science verging on the weird, case not proven but not too bad. Fun to read once or twice but unfortunately there's been literally hundreds if not thousands of pieces, from book length to essay length, that have churned that story to mud. There's nothing left. Writers have tended to clamp on to a very few stories like that, and it's kind of boring.

I resolved to dig deeper into history and find stuff that gave me the same thrill. The theory was that if I'd never heard of it, probably a good chunk of my readers wouldn't have either.
What are you working on next?
I've completed one other non-fiction book about the might-have-beens of the Space Race -- how the Russians were intending to get to the Moon, different ideas the Americans had for the Apollo Program, that sort of thing.

Actually on my plate right now is a science fiction novel set in the far future of the Earth. I've been meaning to move into fiction for years, and SF is my professional background in the gaming industry, so I'm having a lot of fun writing it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
There's not a lot of room to breathe in traditional publishing any more. Breakout successes are rare, and I've had one publisher flat out tell me that I'd written a good, publishable book but that there wasn't much point in printing it because no-one would make any money. I'm partly motivated by a desire to make a little money by cutting out the middle man, and partly motivated by wanting to share what I find interesting to write about with the small group of people who'll find it interesting too. God forbid there isn't yet another book about WWII or the American Civil War.
Published 2015-07-19.
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Books by This Author

False Steps: The Space Race as It Might Have Been
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 91,030. Language: English. Published: August 12, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » History » Modern / General, Fiction » Historical » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
A popular history of the many spacecraft that might have taken us to space, but that fell short for one reason or another. Based on meticulous research from the best available sources, including those long kept secret in Russian archives. With more than two dozen images and diagrams of the space projects that never quite got off the ground.
Passing Strangeness
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 75,690. Language: English. Published: July 19, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » History » Essays, Nonfiction » History » Modern / General
If you're an aficionado of weird history you know about the Voynich Manuscript, but how about the Rohonc Codex? Care for something a bit different, something that explores things no-one has heard about? Unrepentant Rebels once tried to kidnap Lincoln's body, for example, and there's a copy of the Eiffel Tower under the foundations of Wembley Stadium. Meticulously researched and 100% historical