Tuesday, October 6, 2015

#242 : Online Talk! In Conversation with Paul Hollis - Writer, The Hollow Man

What genre do you write and why?

Thriller / True Crime. Crime is everywhere and every day. It’s been part of our nature since the start of time. Though we don’t want it to visit our homes, we’re curious about it. We poke it, we want to know the what, the how, but mostly the why. And it’s just a little more real if the author adds a few bloody, violent or gory scenes, especially if the crime actually happened.

Having said that, I write what I know. I was a hollow man for almost three years, living on the fringe of what we thought was a sane world. It was either write about this, or write a very boring book on computers.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

Because my writing ritual leaves something unfinished for the next day as a place to start, I’ve found procrastination has been my biggest opponent.

There is so much to distract one these days; social media, mindless television, almost as mindless news reports, etc. Being unfocused more than most, the inescapable frustration of procrastination and distraction holds me hostage more than I’d like. But I’ve discovered several ways to minimize disturbances.

  1. a regular regimen and daily goals help me stay on pace.

  2. a simple thing like closing my office door holds house distractions at bay.

  3. saying “no” helps people understand being retired doesn’t mean I’m not busy.

This seems to work, occasionally.

Favorite travel spot?

I have traveled extensively over the years and I’ve had an opportunity to see many of the most wonderful places on earth. But, two immediate travel spots come to mind. I’ve always felt comfortable in the English countryside with its rolling hills, friendly small towns, and of course its history.

The other place is the southern coast of France. With the growing Alps behind, the Côte d'Azur offers a shoreline to suit all wants. Everyone finds what he needs on the Riviera, whether it’s strolling on a stony beach or soaking up gentle sunrays, dining with locals or simply people-watching from the comfort of an outdoor café, shopping with supermodels or partying with rock stars.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you?

Since my idea of camping is the Best Western in a near suburb of any major city, I would need three very special books. The first is How to Build a Shortwave Radio Out of Coconut Shells and Sea Water. The second and third are Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the complete works of prolific Isaac Asimov so I would have food and shelter until help arrived.

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you? The scariest? The strangest?

The true story of how I got my nickname, Doc.

When I was in high school, I took a job as a clean-up guy in a very busy mortuary owned by twin brothers. A few days into the first week, I was sweeping the basement where bodies were kept for embalming prep. A scratching noise broke into the music in my head. I glanced up through the dim light and dust to see a body slowly rising from a metal gurney. Strange sounds were coming from beneath the sheet. The thing was between me and the door.

As I sprinted by, I used the end of the broom as a jousting pole, knocking the body backward off the table. A thunk and a moan reached after me but I kept running; up the stairs, past the chapel, through the main office, and out the front door. I was two blocks away by the time one of the brothers caught me in his car. He had to cut off my path to get me to stop.

Hey,” he yelled out the window. “That was just my brother Bob having a little fun with you.”

I quit,” I said.

Sorry. All right then, come on by and pick up the money we owe you.”

You can keep it.”

He sat looking at me a long time before speaking again.

Can I have my broom back,” he finally said.

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

The most courageous thing I’ve ever done was writing and publishing The Hollow Man.

Any hobbies? or Name a quirky thing you like to do.

I’ve been taking guitar lessons for ten years and I’m still the “world’s okayest player”, as the saying goes. I would love to be able to play really well and I would also love to blame my lack of skill on the fact I’m left-handed playing in a right-handed world. But the truth is, playing the guitar well requires a huge commitment and high level of practice. Strangely, that’s very similar to writing.

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?

I want readers to remember I was a decent writer who entertained them for a while.


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