Interview with Paul Whybrow

What is your e-reading device of choice?
Describe your desk
I don't have a desk as such,for my laptop sits on a small wheeled table,the sort commonly used to pull over a bed to have breakfast. Various useful objects are within easy reach,including a back-scratcher. I write in semi-darkness,with the window covered over to prevent distractions. The room is illuminated by two strategically placed bedside table-lamps and my laptop screen. I'm frequently surprised by what the weather is doing,when I venture into other rooms and look out of the window. As I live in a noisy location,I often drown out disturbance by playing music from the hard-drive via ear-buds.

What's the story behind your stories ?
Many of my protagonists are outsiders and solitaries,which is rather a give-away about my own place in society. Writers are hermits by the nature of their calling,though their seclusion is preceded by immersion in the ways of conventional society. So it was with me,and after a prolonged and intense dunking in the ways of man I took several years out getting to know myself again. I have learned much from reading fiction over the years,loving new words,hearing of new artists and taking encouragement from the success of the characters in the stories;I hope to pass on some of these pleasures to my readers. Thus I may use words that aren't commonly heard anymore,mention musicians or authors that the character enjoys,both as an indicator of their nature and to introduce the reader to them.

What do you read for pleasure?
I have wide-ranging tastes,though since I started writing again I've confined myself to poetry,wary of being infuenced by the style of other authors. From 2009 - 2012 I read about 1,400 novels and volumes of short stories and poetry,as well as many non-fiction works. I think that I kept my local branch library open.

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had an agent when I started writing in the 1970's, and she did all of the hard work of finding me work and selling what I wrote. Sadly,she died while I was in America. I've been doing my own thing since,and the attraction of publishing via Smashwords is evident when you look at the percentage paid on earnings compared to traditional publishers. It's salutary to remember that JK Rowling was turned down a dozen times by publishers,before being accepted. As the great screenwriter William Goldman said of the workings of the Hollywood studios : " No one knows anything. " So why not let the reader decide ?

Who are your favorite authors?
For short stories I still think that Guy de Maupassant is the master,though Raymond Carver and Michele Roberts are satisfying and thought-provoking. I favour American thriller writers over British,and Michael Connelly,James Lee-Burke and Dennis Lehane are masterful. James Connolly is superb. Elmore Leonard has never written anything bad. Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano series of mysteries are a delight. Henning Mankell is well known for his Wallander series of novels,but any of his novels are fine and moving. Alice Hoffman is always engrossing. I love Patrick Gale,Justin Cartwright,Helen Dunmore, and Donald Harington. I grew up reading articulate tellers of tales,such as J.B. Priestley,John Steinbeck,Ray Bradbury and E.L.Doctorow,all of whom are more concerned with getting their story across than being pretentious in a literary way. If I want to read something unusual I'll go to Haruki Murakami,and Annie Dillard makes me happy. If you haven't read any of Richard Brautigan,then please do,for there's no one like him. Try 'The Hawkline Monster' or 'The Abortion.An Historical Romance 1966.'

Whats the best advice you know about writing ?
Two wise observations spring to mind. The great American sports-writer Red Smith said " Writing is easy. Sit down and open a vein. " And E.L. Doctorow noticed that " Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights,but you make the whole trip that way."

What is your writing process?
I like to think that I have a good memory,but jotting ideas down immediately is a tremendous way of capturing slippery sources of inspiration. It can simply be a phrase or title,as well as plot ideas - don't let them get away. I begin composing stories mentally,often years before sitting down to write using some of the strange and amusing things that have happened to me and friends.I know that some writers stick to a strict regime of creating a certain number of words each and every day. I can see the value in that,as some good may come of it even if it's painfully forced,but I work better going with the flow that comes from needing to put down what's come to me since I left the story. Its more of a release of pressure,rather than a regular syphoning-off of words.

How do you tackle cover design?
Although I'm a writer I have a keen visual sense. My father was a noted photographer,and I grew up surrounded by cameras and mind-expanding images. I have a background that includes the creative arts,so have a go
What's the story behind your stories ?
Many of my protagonists are outsiders and solitaries,which is rather a give-away about my own place in society. Writers are hermits by the nature of their calling,though their seclusion is usually preceded by immersion in the ways of conventional society. So it was with me,and after a prolonged and intense dunking in the ways of man I took several years out getting to know myself again. I have learned much from reading fiction over the years,loving new words,hearing of new artists and taking encouragement from the success of the characters in the stories;I hope to pass on some of these pleasures to my readers. Thus I may use words that aren't commonly heard anymore,mention musicians or authors that the character enjoys,both as an indicator of their nature and to introduce the reader to them.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had an agent when I started writing in the 1970's, and she did all of the hard work of finding me work and selling what I wrote. Sadly,she died while I was in America. I've been doing my own thing since,and the attraction of publishing via Smashwords is evident when you look at the percentage paid on earnings compared to traditional publishers. It's salutary to remember that JK Rowling was turned down a dozen times by publishers,before being accepted. As the great screenwriter William Goldman said of the workings of the Hollywood studios : " No one knows anything. " So why not let the reader decide ?
Describe your desk
I don't have a desk as such,for my laptop sits on a small wheeled table,the sort commonly used to pull over a bed to have breakfast. Various useful objects are within easy reach,including a back-scratcher. I write in semi-darkness,with the window covered over to prevent distractions. The room is illuminated by two strategically placed bedside table-lamps and my laptop screen. I'm frequently surprised by what the weather is doing,when I venture into other rooms and look out of the window. As I live in a noisy location,I often drown out disturbance by playing music from the hard-drive via ear-buds. It's better to know what sound is coming next,rather than be startled by an unexpected crash or bang.
What is your writing process?
I like to think that I have a good memory,but jotting ideas down immediately is a tremendous way of capturing slippery sources of inspiration. It can simply be a phrase or title,as well as plot ideas - don't let them get away. I begin composing stories mentally,often years ago,before sitting down to write using some of the strange and amusing things that have happened to me and people I've met.I know that some writers stick to a strict regime of creating a certain number of words each and every day. I can see the value in that,as some good may come of it even if it's painfully forced,but I work better going with the flow that comes from needing to put down what's come to me since I left the story. Its more of a release of pressure,rather than a regular syphoning-off of words.
Whats the best advice you know about writing ?
Two wise observations spring to mind. The great American sports-writer Red Smith said " Writing is easy. Sit down and open a vein. " And E.L. Doctorow noticed that " Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights,but you make the whole trip that way."
What do you read for pleasure?
I have wide-ranging tastes,though since I started writing again I've confined myself to poetry,wary of being influenced by the style of other authors. From 2009 - 2012 I read about 1,400 novels and volumes of short stories and poetry,as well as many non-fiction works. I think that I kept my local branch library open.
Who are your favorite authors?
For short stories I still think that Guy de Maupassant is the master,though Raymond Carver and Michele Roberts are satisfying and thought-provoking. I favour American thriller writers over British,and Michael Connelly,James Lee-Burke and Dennis Lehane are masterful. James Connolly is superb. Elmore Leonard has never written anything bad. Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano series of mysteries are a delight. Henning Mankell is well known for his Wallander series of novels,but any of his novels are fine and moving. Alice Hoffman is always engrossing. I love Patrick Gale,Justin Cartwright,Helen Dunmore, and Donald Harington. I grew up reading articulate tellers of tales,such as J.B. Priestley,John Steinbeck,Ray Bradbury and E.L.Doctorow,all of whom are more concerned with getting their story across than being pretentious in a literary way. If I want to read something unusual I'll go to Haruki Murakami,and Annie Dillard makes me happy. If you haven't read any of Richard Brautigan,then please do,for there's no one like him. Try 'The Hawkline Monster' or 'The Abortion.An Historical Romance 1966.'
How do you tackle cover design?
Although I'm a writer I have a keen visual sense. My father was a noted photographer,and I grew up surrounded by cameras and mind-expanding images. I have a background that includes the creative arts,so have a good idea what I want my cover to look like. The biggest worry in designing a cover is that of copyright,though there are a number of useful stock-image sites,but their photographs and illustrations can be a little mundane and predictable. I like the deviantART site,whose contributors make for a friendly community. As Mark Coker suggests about so many aspects of e-book production,the key is to keep things simple,and that includes cover design. What would look attractive as a full sized hardback book cover design may well not work when reduced to a small tile size online. Think bright colours and a readily discernible image,whatever it is - a flying bird,the sun,a flower or a couple kissing. Make sure that your book title and author name are legible in the shrunk tile size - unless the image on the cover is so eye-catching that they lessen the impact. There's lots of pay-for graphic design sites,but I'm happy with the free Irfan View and Fotor programmes which are easy to use and do all that I need.
What are your ten favorite books, and why?
About the only time I have a favourite anything is when I'm in love,so any ten books I choose now may well change the next time I'm asked. I'll always adore 'The Wind In The Willows' by Kenneth Grahame,and with illustrations by E.H. Shepherd,for its depiction of the joys of Nature,the value of friendship,the importance of standing up for your beliefs and the daftness of our obsessions. Its statements about ecology are unacknowledged,as it's seen as a children's story. John Irving's 'The Cider-House Rules' is amazing,and they even made it into a decent film. I like it for the atmosphere of place,the selflessness of its characters,the coming-of-age narrative balancing the decline that comes with ageing and the overall warmth of the story. A collection of Guy de Maupassant's short stories would keep me happy,as long as it included 'The Horla' and 'Regret' .Maupassant conveys more in a few pages about human foibles than some writers do in a whole novel. Justin Cartwright writes incisively about family relationships and I'm fond of 'The Promise of Happiness'. Patrick Gale should be knighted for his lovely novels,and I particularly like ' Notes from an Exhibition' - read 'A Perfectly Good Man' afterwards,as some of the characters reappear. Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy for being so thrilling and debunking the pomposity of religion and the hubris of man. Alice Hoffman's 'The Dovekeepers' is one of the most absorbing reads I've ever enjoyed. 'Stoner' by John E Williams is finally being given the recognition it deserves - a brilliant portrayal of a decent man and a frustrated love affair. Tim Gautreaux's 'The Clearing' steams off the page in more ways than one. That's more than ten,but who cares ?
Published 2013-11-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Love Scenes - 10 Poems about Love
Price: Free! Words: 1,620. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
Finding the one you're meant to be with can transform your life. Sometimes you don't realise how lonely you are,until you meet them. Awake or asleep,they're your soulmate.
We Stop Ourselves - 10 Poems on Creativity,Doubt & Self-Belief
Price: Free! Words: 1,920. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
You can use all of your life experiences to create art. Why stop yourself ? The world is full of critics,so be an ally to yourself. Sometimes you just have to get on with things. It won't exist unless you make it so.
Free To Fly - 10 Poems on Getting Through
Price: Free! Words: 1,990. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
There's always more than one way of doing things. Sometimes you have to apply a few filters to screen out what's holding you back. Sharing who you are with the world is what your art is about. Take flight and scan the horizon.
Squeeze It
Price: Free! Words: 1,870. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
You're full of ideas,and they've got to come out. But what if you get blocked ? Failed projects hang around forever,haunting you. Sometimes you just have to apply a little pressure to get results.
A Dozen Rocks
Price: Free! Words: 2,250. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
Get your head down,keep your pedal to the metal and rock on out of here. You're hell-bound,so why not enjoy the ride ?
13 Kinds Of Blue
Price: Free! Words: 2,950. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
Do you remember happiness ? I do,just - so why is sadness dogging my tracks ? I know how wrong I've been,but I just want to take off out of here.
A Dozen Pops
Price: Free! Words: 2,190. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
You know what you want,right ? So sing out - there's someone cute watching you. If you don't do it,you'll lose them. They might want you too..
12 Country & Western
Price: Free! Words: 2,630. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
Your heart's been hurt before,but this new love might be true. There's only one way to find out,so hold on tight and begin - they could be the missing part of your life.
Howling For You - 13 Blues Songs
Price: Free! Words: 2,640. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
Alone and on the trail,what can you do but howl for those you miss ?
Box Of Love - 10 Love Song Lyrics
Price: Free! Words: 2,290. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
Seeing someone that you fancy is only the first step. Try all that you can to make things work,but they may not - what then ?
Chasing Big 'O' - 9 Erotic Poems
Price: Free! Words: 2,440. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » U.K. Poetry
Just because you find someone sexy,doesn't mean that it will be reciprocated. The ones that get away are fuel for fantasy. Strange fetishes abound. Being over-organised can get in the way of climbing to the climax that you need. Does size count,and what about if too much of a good thing still isn't enough ?
Building Story House
Price: Free! Words: 1,860. Language: English. Published: January 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » U.K. Poetry
Creating stories takes it out of the writer. From planning to making,followed by modification of what you've made,writing has much in common with building a house. The characters that you invented are doing their own thing,as the plot goes in directions that you didn't anticipate. Inspiration,talent and being prolific are all very well,but who will buy your masterpiece ?
Lost Among The Words
Price: Free! Words: 1,900. Language: English. Published: January 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » U.K. Poetry
Where do the words come from ? How are you going to arrange them to say what you mean ? Where does your inspiration come from to do it at all ? You've been filing ideas away for years - all you've got to do is access them. Perhaps some good will come of your efforts,and you'll inspire a reader.
Friends And Other Confusions
Price: Free! Words: 1,990. Language: English. Published: January 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » U.K. Poetry
Letting people into your life can be risky,and misunderstandings abound. Friends can be closer allies than family though,helping you to get through tough times. Don't forget to be a friend to yourself - it's all down to you in the end.
What Do You Like ?
Price: Free! Words: 1,870. Language: English. Published: January 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Couples Erotica
Becoming intimate with someone involves sharing a lot. Will you be able to say what you like to do in bed ? Are you compatible anyway ? You might be out of practice,and what if things turn experimental ? Things could get kinky.
Love Ends
Price: Free! Words: 2,020. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
When things aren't going right,as the unravelling begins - what to do next ? How to find a way out - or should you ?
Nature's Ways
Price: Free! Words: 2,560. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Poetry » U.K. Poetry
We're surrounded by it,but forget how to see the creatures that we share the world with - from tiny insects to birds and flowers.
Hold Onto Yourself
Price: Free! Words: 3,050. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
What with the wind trying to blow me away,and the ghosts telling fibs,is it a surprise that I've been making up stories. I'd quite like to be an animal or a bird,but could I have some whiskers in the meantime ?
Witches Knickers
Price: Free! Words: 3,650. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Children’s books » Stories in Verse
Life is a bit mad sometimes,what with weird witches,bonkers characters visiting their friends and the animals leaving me Christmas lists. But I've got my secret powers to help me - and do you like my new beard ?
Love Wishes
Price: Free! Words: 2,130. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Romance » Adult
Thinking about love,spending some time alone and eyeing up potential partners. How to go about things differently this time - will you ever learn ?
Love Hopes
Price: Free! Words: 1,860. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
What if the person that you fancy is feeling the same way about you ? How to put past disappointment behind you,and move on.
Modern Times
Price: Free! Words: 3,520. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Poetry » U.K. Poetry
Observe how we get through life in the new millennium,which is starting to feel old already. Who is watching you,and how will you die - and how will that be reported on the news ? You're sure to find comfort somewhere - but for how long ?
Poems To Ponder
Price: Free! Words: 3,390. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Poetry » U.K. Poetry
Growing up means learning lots of things - how to tell jokes,how to tie shoe-laces,the importance of telling the truth - but what is that,exactly ? Why can't I be a pirate instead ? And look at what my cat's licking now !
Solitariness
Price: Free! Words: 2,290. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Poetry » Spiritual
If loneliness is the poverty of the soul,and solitariness the richness of the soul,then you are blessed in your isolation. You're finding ways through,that other people fear to consider.
Loneliness
Price: Free! Words: 2,310. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Poetry » Spiritual
Being alone,you may learn more about yourself than those who mingle in the throng. Nobody said it would be easy - and you know how tough it all is,and how much of a loner you are.
Darkness Darkness
Price: Free! Words: 1,790. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Horror » Undead
The shades in your soul may be resilient companions in your dark journey through life. There are uses for pain,pleasure in being tougher than the rest.
Darkness
Price: Free! Words: 2,100. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Horror » Crime
Sometimes darkness is your only friend. Safe in its shadows,contemplate the world and make peace with your demons.
Old Age Navigation
Price: Free! Words: 2,360. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Inspirational
Finding a way to cope with getting older,while still feeling the same way inside as you ever did. Getting old is a pain,but it beats the alternative...
Love Begins
Price: Free! Words: 1,820. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » African Poetry, Fiction » Romance » General
The first thrill of new love - the doubts,the hopes and all of the tentative manoeuvring.
What Would I Do Without You ?
Price: Free! Words: 18,410. Language: English. Published: January 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Adult, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
A frustrated housewife,married to her boring husband dreams of what life would be like if she were widowed. She's fantasized a new world based around the trendy and arty quayside in town,which has been redeveloped. Then everything changes,and she's presented with an unexpected opportunity.
Love Stages
Price: Free! Words: 3,430. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
Love beginnings and love endings. Love that's meant to be and love that's run out of steam. Poems for new lovers,those trapped and the abandoned who have begun again.
Hearts On Tour
Price: Free! Words: 14,870. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Inspirational
Five long-time friends from a village go into the local market-town for their monthly pub-crawl. It's day-time and things are quiet,but it's important to keep up with the local gossip. Their brotherhood supports much more than the pubs that they visit. How would they cope without one another ?
Due-Date
Price: Free! Words: 7,740. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Horror » Undead
A librarian finds himself in a state of limbo - is he dead or one of the undead ? He can see dates of death floating on people,their cause of death too,as well as their final words. He is disconnected from life,yet haunted by knowledge of the doom that awaits us all. Does he have a purpose anymore ?
A Blue Tomorrow
Price: Free! Words: 16,940. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Adult, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
The courtship and happiness of a farmer brings home to a frustrated police sergeant how far his life has drifted off track. Temptation rears its attractive but deadly head,and things go from bad to worse.
A Man Out Walking His Dog
Price: Free! Words: 35,620. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
A newly separated and recently retired man takes his dog for a regular walk along the river bank. They find a woman's body floating in the water,and he retrieves it. Who is she,and how is it that he is accused of involvement in her death ?
Quarry
Price: Free! Words: 22,780. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
A holidaying Italian-American mobster is snatched by a gang of heavily-armed 'preppers' - survivalists who are ready for the end of the world. They equip him with weapons and proceed to hunt him down,filming the action. What has he done to deserve this ?
Over and Out
Price: Free! Words: 6,440. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Three daughters organize their parents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration. The union has been a tempestuous one,but change is about to happen at the most unexpected of occasions.
Jacqui In Space
Price: Free! Words: 6,700. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Adventure » General
A famed motorcycle traveller is sent to Mars to explore the red planet for colonization. Earth is doomed by pollution and over-exploitation of its resources. Can she find a new place for the human-race to live - and should she ?
Ghosting
Price: Free! Words: 22,110. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Following the life of an eccentric nature-lover from young naturalist to animal researcher,and how she comes to terms with life and death. Through her experiences in observing wildlife and with the spirits of the departed she finds her own identity among the living.
In The Graveyard At Dawn
Price: Free! Words: 6,120. Language: English. Published: November 19, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Drama
A young boy enters a graveyard at dawn with his dog. Both love the countryside and the wild-life they observe. Death is a part of the process of Life,but a surprise awaits them in the burial-ground.
Burpwallow Holler
Price: Free! Words: 27,460. Language: English. Published: November 19, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Historical » Western & American frontier
An army veteran,a survivor of the conflict in the American Civil War is haunted by stress from his experiences in battles. He hears of a fellow warrior who is being persecuted for his color and beliefs. Is the war about to begin again ? It has never really ended for him...
Is It Her ?
Price: Free! Words: 21,770. Language: English. Published: November 19, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
A bereaved man in his sixties faces up to life alone,after losing his beloved wife via assisted suicide at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. Navigating through life in a fog,he experiences a delightful collision. Does life offer second chances ?
The Moon Is Out Tonight
Price: Free! Words: 12,320. Language: English. Published: November 19, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
A successful but lonely business-woman and author sits alone contemplating the full moon with her ragamuffin of a cat. Out in the darkness,mere yards away, a bachelor down on his luck,does what he can to survive.
Soul-Swapping
Price: Free! Words: 4,000. Language: English. Published: November 18, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
A hapless demon,dead and in Hell for 150 years finds himself transported to modern-day London to serve a dominant hell-hag. She uses her minion to swap souls between humans,for bets and to serve her master's evil intent.