Interview with Paul Vayro

What was the last vegetable you ate?
I can have the spud in chip form, right? That's probably going to be the answer if you ask me that question across a prolonged period of time at random intervals.

If that doesn't satisfy you, probably a pea and a carrot at roughly the same time. I'm a mixed bag of frozen veg kind of guy.
Do you have 5 tips for new writers?
Probably. I have useless tips for every other aspect of life.

Write. It may seem obvious, but do it. Every format, every style, try them all and see what suits you, what allows you to express yourself the best, and most importantly what you enjoy the most. If you come across aspiring actors/film-makers/animators, anything that needs words, offer to do something with them. You may hate it and fail miserably, but at least you'll know what to tick off the list.

Talk to other writers, be it in person or on internet forums, just to remind yourself you're not alone in your quest, but realise most of them will give 'advice' which is just them telling you how they do everything. Writers are very proud of their ways. There is no method other than what gets you to the end of a project. Some people have to write a thousand words a day between 3.06 and 3.32am with their green pencil, others spend six hours staring at a screen, five of them playing Freecell, and only finish half a paragraph. It doesn't matter, and don't get embroiled in debates about whether it does, or what makes a 'writer'. Writing makes a writer, that's it. Being a good one or not is a whole different debate.

Don't be precious about your words. You may fall in love with a sentence but if it needs dropping, it has to be dropped. Save it in another file and stare at it longingly in times of sorrow. And don't fall into the paranoia trap that everyone wants to steal your work. Get it out there, get your style known. It's useless having the greatest manuscript in the world in a secret box, buried under an unmarked grave in Dublin. Equally, you need to find out if your million pound work of genius is actually just tepid wordery.

Accept criticism with the same open arms of praise. They come from the same place. Both contain elements of truth coated in bias and opinion. Shake the seeds of truth from both and assess them. You may not agree, but don't do so out of stubborn refusal to accept reality. If you don't agree, work out why, same if you do. Listen to what people tell you. They're the reader, and a wider audience won't have access to you personally to ask you about the specifics that make chapter six clearer. Chapter six has to be clear to a complete stranger you'll never meet.

Be patient. Don't think the first thing you've written is the launch pad to the rest of your life. Within two years of writing anything you'll see nothing but its endless flaws, whether that's now or when you're eighty, but don't berate yourself for writing something terrible, you will, but congratulate yourself for being able to tell yourself it's no good, and more importantly, why. Every time you let the words out you're learning, so enjoy the process.

Writing is not romantic; days filled with whimsical staring out of the window while a piano plays across broken sunbeams pouring into the conservatory. It's irritating, infuriating, alienating, it borders on insanity, but you do it for your own reasons, and it's obviously worthwhile for you otherwise you wouldn't bother.

In truth, if you've already begun the process, you've probably got more tips for me than I for you.
How long have you been writing for?
I always loved writing stories as a child and would use any excuse possible in English at primary school to turn a simple question into an elaborate tale. Actually, I did it with every subject I could shoe horn irrelevant musings into. Making cartoon versions of religious parables was always a favourite, adding a Capri into the background of the Prodigal Son and the like.

I presumed at some point in life the vocation fairy left your assigned career under your pillow, alas mine remained empty and I bumbled around before realising I could try and turn writing into my job. So, in a convoluted way of answering, I decided about ten years ago to genuinely try and turn words into a living, but the act of writing my thoughts in constructed tales has been with me since I was maybe seven or eight.
Are there any themes that you consciously try to put into your writing?
Why else am I writing?

Writing is the veil I draw across my philosophy on life. I can't stand on the street with a loudhaler, and my ego and introverted nature make me shiver at the thought of addressing a room; so I hide my take on humanity amidst an entertaining jaunt, giving my opinions to my protagonists and exaggerating them into humour in the hope a grain of reality sticks in the readers' mind.

A recurring theme is expressed in the behaviour and interests of Brick and Spiritwind. All too often life is measured by the rare moments; the bears we wrestle, the canyons we career down, and the mountains we jump off, but life is about the everyday. Washing the pots, walking to work, choosing a chocolate bar for dinner. The insignificant moments are life, and we should cherish these as much as the spectacular, otherwise existence becomes nothing more than a slow trudge between the highlights. The two heroes embody the idea of the mundane being the genuinely interesting, if only you give it a little thought. Better thinking about that than who's got the wobbliest thigh this month.

I suppose a wider theme reflects my underlying take on life, which is that it's all a farce, a bumbling melee of emotions and ego's, all competing for an unknown prize that we're never shown. Existence doesn't have to be the brutal battle of our animalistic history, we have consciousness, reason, and the potential for discussion beyond who said what, when, where, and in whose bed, yet we still thump against each other in deadly and mindless disputes on every level, from our neighbours to entire nations.

Life can be a simple and pleasant experience, but humans make it complicated and mean. I just wish to shine a little extra light on such a notion, using cynicism and mockery as my main weapon.
If you could have been born in a different period of time, when would it have been and why?
It's always tempting to simply wish to be born a hundred years from today; endless curiosity about where we're heading as an animal drives much of my thinking.

Most of the past is alluring in terms of nostalgia, forgetting the reality of being cold even when indoors, and dodging the open sewers that waited outside, or just visiting the local pool of water for nearly every physical need; but I'd like to have been around with Aristotle, when there was still so much to discover, right at the start of a genuine, thought out attempt to work out what was going on, rather than pointing to mysticism and the whim of a greater being.

Must have been some great discussions in the pub.
How did the main characters start life? Are they based on anyone?
After deciding to take a year out before starting university, I struggled to find work straight away. Reverting to what I enjoyed I got out a word processor and began penning a story.

Naming the first character after an intentionally exposed wall in my parent's house, it was the thing back then, Brick Wall emerged. I wanted the second character to have a combination of outlandish names in an effort to counter being born with a dull surname; hence Spiritwind Capernicus Jones. Capernicus is spelt to say it the way it sounds, not after the sky gazing fellow of similar name.

After about five chapters I realised I was still only eighteen and needed more life experience to write a novel. When the time came to try again, and with a novel length idea to run with, I dusted off the duo and let them develop and grow into the story.

The duo reflect my inner monolgue in life; Brick is my instinctive, ridiculous reaction to a situation, devoid of practicality and any limitation in reality. Spiritwind is the voice that points out the obvious reason why such a thing wouldn't work, but often allows itself to be swept up in the thought and run with the idea until bringing the discussion back to reality.
What do you think about literary agents and do you have one?
No, I don't have one. Or more honestly, they don't want me.

I've been told on several occasions my work isn't commercially viable enough, which is a fair point. An agent's income is based on mine, so a punt on a sci-fi/comedy series that could cross into the mainstream is a bigger risk than a crime novel. Especially when it could languish in the dreaded cult following category, which means the same two hundred people buy everything to do with you.

It's rare to find somebody with both a good business and artistic brain, so there's a certain level of symbiosis to bringing any artistic pursuit to the world's attention. They're a part of the game we all play, and I'm sure if I had one I wouldn't be sat here at 1am, typing up an interview by a friend, to publish on a lesser known website in an effort to draw attention to my mental meandering.
Do you plan your stories before writing?
To a certain extent.

I know where they start, where they end, and roughly what they achieve in the middle. The path to the end is meandered along by the characters, running with diversions and ponderous tangents. The re-drafting process is where everything is shuffled to fit the line it has followed, giving the impression that it was always planned that way, but allowing a sense of freedom within the story that lets you fall into their world.

A trip to the shops may contain a list, but life doesn't follow such strict plans. Something may not be there, an item slips your mind, you bump in to a friend and end up in the pub for seven hours instead? I want the reader to feel as though the characters are discovering the story as much as they are, and for me this is the easiest way to achieve such an end. Nobody should turn right in a book because they have to in order to make the story work, they should choose to because that's what that person would do in that situation, or at least that's how it should appear.
Is plot or character more important?
Personally, character.

You can have the greatest plot in the world, but shallow characters who draw no emotional connection will leave the audience bored and unattached. You only have to look at modern Hollywood to see the error repeated every week; however a person sat in a room for three weeks could make a compelling read, if the character is strong and believable, and draws interest and a sense of relationship.

Character's should drive the plot. Placing Brick and Spiritwind in Jason Bourne's situation would not lead to the same tale being told, and why should it? Stories are our way of learning about humanity, and ultimately ourselves, so it seems obvious to me that the person is at the centre, but I studied Psychology and find us as a species endlessly fascinating, so I'm entirely biased.
What did you have for breakfast?
I'd like to say a glass of fresh orange and a bowl of fruit before my morning jog, but I stumbled out of bed and had a cookie.

It was nice.

There's a lesson in there somewhere, but I'm yet to learn it.

Many thanks to Dean Nicholls for the questions, and apologies for the years of semi-philosophical waffle I've fired towards him, especially the four am texts as I stumble home from the local discotheque.
Published 2014-12-04.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Ying, Yang and Ambivalence
Series: The Ambler's Odyssey, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 75,470. Language: English. Published: August 15, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
When Brick and Spiritwind drunkenly head out into the universe for a dance and takeaway food, they awake enrolled at Evil University, and after the Vice-Chancellor takes a liking to the pair's philosophy, he sets about making them the new ideological hope for all mischief.
Unintended Heroes
Series: The Ambler's Odyssey, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 107,810. Language: English. Published: September 6, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
When Insidious Chi threatens the universe with apathy, all its heroes are gathered to do battle. Unfortunately two bumbling Earthlings qualify for an invite.
T is for Time
Series: The Ambler's Odyssey, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 91,330. Language: English. Published: August 24, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
When aliens attempt to take over the Earth, by freezing time and stealing all the tea and coffee, two hapless misfits are charged with saving humanity.