Today we welcome Paul Smith.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Paul Smith: I spend so much time in writing fact-based books that I even spend a lot of my “down time” reading still other books or web sites, to squeeze information out that is relevant to my work. For instance, for many years I collected notes and rough chapters on the JFK assassination, which has been written to death. But thanks to some fairly new revelations and my old work “gathering dust” in my computer files – these puzzles pieces coming together nicely – I have been able to piece together lately a revitalized project, one that requires me to watch old videos and dig up yellowing newspaper articles, etc, when I’m not at the keyboard. Now when I’m not doing that stuff, yes I do have a bit of a life, for instance I have some hobbies, family responsibilities, and try to get some exercise every day, to briefly get away from it all. While I don’t get too detailed with this answer, and remain more of a private person, I think of every day that I don’t do some reading, writing, and researching as a rather wasted day. It’s just part of me. Even when I lay down for a nap my mind is still poring over data that I need to think through, and at times I must stop, sit up, and jot notes. Sometimes I even wake up at 3:00 a.m.and think “Well, I can’t get to sleep. I might as well get up and get some work done” – so I do! It’s all about wanting to write entertaining and accurate books that reach as many people as possible. That’s what every author strives to be, right? I’m no different. But headaches and neck pain are a daily factor as a result, I guess, taking away from the “pleasure” of writing. There’s a price to be paid, I suppose. Others are out partying, but often my idea of a good time is quiet reading and writing.
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Paul Smith: People write what they know, basically. What makes them curious, excited, or amused. So I tend to follow that path. But I have tried to branch out a bit as a creative writer. For years I gathered data surrounding an amazing event outside of my hometown, the story of how an alien spaceship allegedly crashed, with three dead bodies, and was swept up quickly by the U.S. Army, back in April of 1941. That’s pretty wild, eh? Well I piled up so much data and got so much response that I had enough material for two books. Then I wanted to get across the real-life, kinda-scary prophecies of psychic Edgar Cayce and paranormal author Ruth Montgomery, descriptions for our future. How this info might match up well with what Jesus Christ talked about, what conditions would lead to his concern, and how this may well be playing out right now and in the coming decades. So i wrote the serious facts laced into a fun, fictional adventure novel, to try something a little different than writing pure nonfiction. After that I had a fictional comedy novel in my arsenal, so I polished it up and released it this fall, timing it to MLB’s post-season, since there is a baseball theme. Naturally I had to include some real-life UFO stories from the Nevada area, things I feel others would be interested in, but tried to skew the rom-com humor towards a younger crowd to tap into a wider audience. So yeah… I’ve got messages, all right, plenty of ’em! lol
Thus, MO41, The Bombshell Before Roswell and 3 Presidents, 2 Accidents were important to me as a Missourian to get out there, to the world, and to see this work utilized for an episode of the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens was a rewarding hoot for me. And having The Treasure Keys to Christ’s Return discussed on some radio/podcasts, that was fun. And now I’ve been on some shows talking about the baseball-and-UFO-themed humor in the wacky Sexy Alien Races. When a professional book reviewer stated “A wild and hilarious satire! A must read!” in response to my latest effort, well, that really made all those hours of each day worthwhile in the end. It’s what an author lives for, I guess! Critical acceptance. Sales would be nice, too!
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Paul Smith: I have several arrows in my quiver, built up over the years, like my JFK book. I’m combining that tale with eerie facts on Abe Lincoln. I’ve got a few others that I work on now and then, stored in my laptop, and hope to get out – hopefully through Argus – in the coming years. But as a writer, you know you have to step back and clear your thoughts, then come back to it and polish, proofread, and edit. It’s a long process to get a finished, thoughtful, entertaining book, and none of it is glamorous or exciting, for sure! But… it’s in your blood.
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Paul Smith: The most difficult? Gosh, I’d say what I’m doing right now. The JFK assassination is a TOWERING MOUNTAIN OF FACTS AND OPPOSING OPINIONS. What a complex climb! It’s astounding, how much information is out there. It is therefore difficult to separate fact from fiction, deliberate lies from hidden truth, and theories from hard, cold reality. All sorts of angles and agendas. You have to dig and dig, and slowly slot the puzzle pieces together. Hence what I’m working on now is the most mind-boggling and dangerous, like falling into a swamp and having to slowly wade out without going cuckoo or getting bitten by a wild animal called “inaccuracy that could get you sued.” I definitely don’t want to end up wrong, but yes there was more to this historic case than just Lee Oswald taking three shots on a whim at a passing president. Problem is, like in almost all of the subject I write about, everyone from “that period” is dead. Old stories have to be examined very carefully from different sources, and have to add up logically. Time-consuming!
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Paul Smith: See above!
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Paul Smith: Books I read? I’ve always enjoyed biographies, sports, metaphysics, and history. It’s odd that I have written some fiction, yet I don’t care to stop and read it from others, not at all. The Ruth Montgomery series of books have been somewhat inspiring to me. I want my reading material to be uplifting in some way, I don’t want to end up depressed or disgusted by what I take time to digest. Life’s too short for negativity!
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Paul Smith: Oh I’d say my parents and teachers in school were pretty supportive. No one specifically. I used to write silly satire and comedy books when I was in the fifth and sixth grades, and do the drawings. Parodying the Hardy Boys Mystery Series, which I read and loved back then. I guess that was a clue to my lifelong professional goal, eh?
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Paul Smith: Strengths? I found it easier to write from a male perspective, and I think came out well. A “strength.” Much tougher for me was to write from a female’s point of view. So I deliberately wrote a Christian children’s book this summer. I made sure it was about a girl, her viewpoint. One who had an amazing adventure while asleep, in her pajamas. It’s called “Jennifer’s Jammies
.” I’m not sure what to do with it yet, but it’s finished, with poetic verse and explanatory “regular” dialogue, to make it fun to read for parents and to hear for kids. It was a real challenge, so very different to put together than nonfiction or comedy for adults, as I had done before. The problem is… when it was all done I found out someone had written something similar a few years ago and got it published! Grrrrrr! Anywho, I still think it came out swell and is a “strength.” I let a couple of Christian ministers read it and they quite liked it, but… we’ll see if it ever sees the light of day. If I had to write a dark, sick fictional work that tapped into negative thinking and crime, immorality and sin, that would be my “weakness,” like kryptonite to me. Not interested – and YET… we all have to write “villains” or “antagonists” in fiction, don’t we? That’s tapping into it, a little.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Paul Smith: I don’t have a routine, but some days are more filled with writing than others, of course. I have some dyslexia that makes it tougher, but I don’t let my juxtaposing letters or words as I think and type get me down. I plow on, for an hour two most of the time, then take a break and come back to it when I’m ready again, day or night. No regimented hours. Obviously “LIFE is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” as John Lennon wisely sang. It interferes at times when you’re ready to write, but… hold onto those thoughts and inspirations and get back to it when “life” lets you go.
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Paul Smith: In five years? Hopefully still writing. I’m not really happy without that self-expression. Probably until I drop dead, I reckon.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Paul Smith: Keep trying. It’s tough, I know, to break through, but hey, you shoulda seen what life was like before the internet! Typing up letters and requests, and manuscripts, mailing them to editors and publishing companies and literary agents – YUCK! It was a giant and pricey pain, but it kept Kinkos and post office personnel in business, right?
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Paul Smith: I guess the greatest satisfaction is when readers say they really enjoyed it AND it made them think. And I have gotten that feedback from people (in person0 and from reading reviews online. I also found out what two authors warned me of in advance: SOME people who go online to write reviews often do so JUST TO BE MEAN LITTLE CREEPS. They take pleasure in bombing others’ works, maybe because they’re sick souls, or want attention, or maybe because they are failed writers who don’t have the talent or drive to “make it happen.” Or you did something to annoy them years ago, and this is their revenge. So they deliberately savage your book on places like Amazon.com. So I was braced up for that, and read some reviews of my first work. Overall the reaction was very positive and enjoyable to read and digest. But then the little demons stick their nasty “reviews” in there, and many give themselves away when they are not even accurate or can’t spell. They just enjoy ripping. Thus I haven’t been back to read any more. I write it, Argus releases it, and I try to promote it. If people like it, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t. I can’t change that after it comes out. But people who read it and tell me they “get it,” that makes it more worthwhile. Or that they recommended it to others they know, that’s cool.
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
Paul Smith: For this I will merely pass along an excerpt from my (copyrighted) comedy novel, “Sexy Alien Races,” in which a nervous young man goes for a job interview at a baseball stadium, encountering Kenneth Yotch, the enormous, bombastic owner of an alien-themed Las Vegas minor league franchise, undergoing a review of his qualifications to work there…
Finally, Kenneth spoke, breaking the awkward silence. “Timber, what‘s your lasting experience at the baseball game?” Ken mumbled with a full mouth, his doughnut in hand down to a nub.
“Oh, uhh, usually about the third inning. That‘s when I have to get up and find the can. You know those jumbo sodas just drain right through me.”
Kenneth looked at me with a quizzical expression, unsure whether to laugh or frown at my misinterpretation. “Son, I‘m talking about your understanding the game of baseball.”
“Oh, uhhh, well, I’ve seen many a game in my time. Enjoyed a few, too,” I smiled.
“Tim, I’m talking about the depth of your knowledge.”
“Oh… the depth? I can sink pretty low, if you want.”
I could see mild exasperation growing in Kenneth‘s facial expression. I felt my job chances sink as his eyebrow went sailing up again. He eyed me carefully. “I mean… did you play Little League? High School? In college? Or did you take up broadcasting?” He waited while I conjured up something...
“Well… I used to collect caseball bards. Uh, baseball cards. I remember my excitement when I got one of yours. The one where you had a profanity shaved into the side of your scalp? I sold that one on E-Bay for two hundred bucks,” I smile proudly. Genuinely touched, he smiled right back and nodded. “I had my first big party with the money, too.” This seemed to put Mr. Y at ease. He chuckled approvingly at the idea, until I foolishly but candidly added, “…for my fellow Boy Scouts.”
“Boy Scouts?” Kenneth was incredulous. I felt ridiculous. How could I have blurted out such an unhip factoid? What an idiot! Yet, my seeming faux pas was just what the doctor ordered. He thought a little to himself, drumming his fingers. Then he smiled broadly.
“Timmio, you’re hired.”
“What??” I was stunned. Mr. Yotch calmly started on a second jelly “dog-nut” (as he called ’em) and slugged it back with another shot of booze. I grew very excited – for one full second.
I sat up and waited with great anticipation and anxiety.
“…you can cut the muster with my daughter. Carole. She’s in charge of Marketing and Promotions.”
My shoulders slumped, I’m sure. I was only halfway home.
So as you can see, when you’re writing fictional humor, you can be creative and goofy and hopefully keep readers wanting more in the next chapter… and the next…. and the next…
That’s what it’s all about, right? Cheers!