Interview with Paul Stephens

What are some of your favorite books and why?
I discovered “Watership Down” by Richard Adams as a child and have read it many times over the years. The novel touched me on many levels. Who would have thought that a bunch of talking British rabbits could teach anyone to question authority and do the right thing against all odds?

I remember doing an oral book on “The Hobbit” in the sixth grade. While the other students reported about “Ricky the Racecar” or other such crap, I was introducing my class to the wonders of Tolken. They became transfixed with hobbits, trolls, orcs, wizards, and the like.

The entire “Dune” series and I have to thank my Aunt Eileen for that. She always encouraged me to read. As high school freshman it was hard to get into Herbert’s work, but once I did, he had another fan.

Most all of Stephen King’s earlier work and in particular, “The Shining.” I found it one snowy day at the country store’s free book rack. It scared me so much that I did not want to open our shower curtain. My parents had to order me to bathe,
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I cannot thank Smashwords and Mark Coker enough. What a wonderful service for both new and established writers! Like many new writers, I envisioned my book sitting in the front of the local Barnes’ and Nobel’s working its way up the New York Times best seller list. HA! I learned my lesson on that account. There is a song by Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam entitled “The Streets of Bakersfield” which describes the experience of a young songwriter in “Nashville West.” He has talent, but nobody will look at his work because he is not already famous. The song line, “You don’t know me but you don’t like me” describes my, and many other new writer’s experience. It is so discouraging to contact a hundred agents or more and receive little or no response, and those recived are all “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Smashwords gives everybody who wishes to put a pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, a chance. SCREW THE AGENTS!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Just seeing the work on paper, or rather a reading device. I have always been a talker and story teller, and even won a special award for Verbosity in kindergarten. Well, frankly, I just could not shut-up, much to the irritation of my favorite grandfather.

Unlike the spoken word, writing allows me to directly see my thoughts and ideas. It never gets old, and now I write more and talk less. No doubt Gramps would be pleased to know that, bless his soul.
What are you working on next?
I have already started the follow up to “Confessions of a Young Prison Guard.” It covers my years as a still quite young Correctional Sergeant and Lieutenant. The book will contain the same style of humor but from the prospective of the boss. It goes into more detail about a failed and corrupt prison system, and thru true accounts points out the damage this does not to not just staff, but the prisoners as well. With all honesty, the job very nearly killed me, at 35 I was a alcoholic shot out human husk. I have to express it, purge it,and at the same time perhaps entertain and enlighten others.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Well….due to circumstances beyond my control, when not writing, I am taking care of my elderly mother (watch out ladies, he is a man who lives with his mommy!) and at other times my more elderly grandmother. I was headed from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to a job in Texas. I came to see Mom before the job started. I could see that she dying and I did not want that. She is much better now that she has someone to “take care” of. As to Granny, she’s 96 and still sharp. It truly is an honor to take of those who took care of me.

I love to shop in thrift stores for antiques and what my family calls Paul’s “shinnies.” I do like small shiny objects, but love the way Gran’s eyes light up when she closely examines my new found treasure. I love to collect and reproduce old vinyl records, for if not some of the music may be lost forever. That would be very sad I think.

I like to buy, sell, and trade in old stuff and love art. When I am able, most of the profit goes to those who need it more than I. We should all take the time to help our fellow man and woman giving them a hand-up rather than a hand out. I am just trying to make the world a better place and irritate authority figures as much as possible.
What is your writing process?
Just getting up in the morning, coffee, watch the news to remind me how crappy the world still is. Walk the world's ugliest dog (my mother's one eyed dog) pug, who is named "Pug". More coffee, some streches, lighting that first horrible smoke of the day, then just gettin' busy. It's all good.
How do you approach cover design?
Knowing that in fact people do judge a book by its cover (and generally most things in life), I wanted one that really caught the eye. I know when I see a crappy cover, I see crappy book. Also there are good covers, but they are completely inappropriate to the subject, i.e., there is a beautiful young lady in a field of flowers with a title like "Death from Above"...Really....? What were you thinking Mr. Death Guy?

Greg Coker strongly recommends the best book cover you can find or create and I fully agree. After a great deal of searching, I would like to thank Shutterstock for the image that will hopefully grab your attention.
What do you read for pleasure?
Though currently I am doing more writing than reading, when given a chance I am reading non-fiction. Don't get me wrong, i love to read (and tell) a good story, true or not. I just love to learn and come from a long line of readers. The more you read the more you know. The other side of that coin is the more you know the more you realize you don't know. It is a vicious circle.....
Describe your desk looks a lot like a couch from which I have a glorious view of the K-Mart parking lot across the street. Ain't life grand?
Have you considered writing non-fiction?
Well, actually, I am now working on some comedy for YouTube sketches. I love to laugh, but even more making others do so. In this world you have to laugh, especially at yourself, or you will be in a grey drizzly place. If you are unable to laugh at anything, call me, I used to be a therapist.
If you become a best seller, what will you do with all that fame and fortune?
As far as the fame, I am really not into it. Perhaps some recognition would be nice. I would like to use the influence of any “fame” I receive to help address social issues. I would love, for example, to have an interview concerning the failure of the penal system, and the increasing brutality of our law enforcement agencies upon our citizens.

As to money, yeah, moneys great, but greed for money is not. Sure, there are some things I would like, but I will still shop in the thrift stores. Why should I pay $40 for a pair of jeans when I can get them “gently used/broken in” for $5? That is one of the reasons I respect Warren Buffet. Even though he is one of the wealthiest men in the world, even after giving 99% of his money to Bill Gates for charity, he still resides in the same simple family home that he built years before. I think of the stars and the athletes who had 50 room mansions and 20 million dollar yachts and think Really…? Could you have settled on the paltry 25 room mansion or 10 million dollar yacht instead? Hey big spenders, I know you worked hard for what you have but could you have perhaps fed some people, or set up a scholarship fund for the under privilege kids? Like men in huge jacked up pick-up trucks I wonder what you're insecure about. I just sayin’……
Published 2014-07-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Confessions of a Young Prison Guard
Price: $5.95 USD. Words: 48,030. Language: English. Published: July 21, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs
Let Paul Stephens take you on a tour like no other and one you will never forget. His work is so graphically detailed that it will leave you laughing, astonished, bewildered, and maybe just queasy enough to toss your cookies. It will leave images in your mind that will be hard to dislodge. This book will also bring a new appreciation for those who work behind the wall. Read if you dare.......