Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a web developer by day. I’ve been working on multimedia projects since the early 90’s and love to take ideas and turn them into visual presentations. I do far more programming these days than artwork, but given the chance, I pull out the drawing software and have some fun. My guitars get far less playing than they deserve since I started writing. Writing is really all consuming and it can be difficult to keep any other hobbies up. But it’s also the best and most creative of all the arts for me. When not working or writing I read, work out—far too little, and promote my book on the net. That last one eats up a lot of time!
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing again about four years ago and I finished my first book this last fall. I say again because when I was in high school I wrote a lot, mostly poetry and some song lyrics. I wrote about this on my blog, but basically a vindictive English teacher turned me off to the writing process and I regret that I somehow bought into it. When I finally started writing again it was cathartic, freedom flowed from my pen (okay, it was actually a computer keyboard). Since then I’ve strived to encourage other authors to write, write, and write. Don’t ever give in to the naysayers—whenever you’re unsure of your own writing, write some more. Eventually the words will coalesce into something wonderful, something even grander than you imagined, and you’ll be glad you didn’t hang it up too soon.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
It chose me. I had been writing a sci-fi that I had been dreaming of for several years, first thinking I would do it as a movie or animation script. Then archaeologist Angie Cooper came to me with her mission in hand and I knew I had to write it. It’s a plot driven book and the plot formed as I got to know Angie. The genre is thriller but could easily be action-adventure as many people have said the book is a cross-between Indiana Jones and a Dan Brown novel.
Where do you get your ideas? Do you ever experience writer’s block? Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Some ideas come from the void, you can’t really tell from where. Others come from reading novels and research. Some of my best ideas came from reviewing photos of architecture.
I think every writer experiences writer’s block to one degree or another. My advice is always the same, write anyway. Eventually you’ll find that spark of a good idea and then the block will disappear on its own.
I don’t work with an outline but think it might be worth learning to do. There’s a lot of rewriting involved in the seat-of-the-pants style. At the same time, a stream of consciousness can pull out ideas that you didn’t even see when you started out writing a scene. All of sudden your character is in uncharted waters—and so are you. That’s the fun part, getting lost in your writing. And for some it’s where their brilliance lies.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I spent a long time trying to land an agent and publisher. The doors seemed closed to me and I saw many people on the net claiming that the thriller genre was just to jam packed with books; publishers were sticking with their big writers. Certainly publishers have less money than in the past with the rapid changes happening to their industry, and that could account for their current attitude towards new writers. Of course, it could just be I didn’t find the right people even after going through far over a hundred agents.
That prompted me to go Indie. Publishing as an Indie is really a breeze, both print and eBook. I’m glad I did it otherwise my novel may have just languished for years while I looked for a publisher. The one drawback of course is that you have to promote yourself, and that means you’ll always be way behind the big publishers with huge budgets and connections with bookstores and distributors.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
No. There really isn’t anything I could change as far as publishing, not without great globs of money. Plus, I’ve met a lot of great Indie authors and I’m very happy being one of them. My novel, I believe, hit all the points I wished it to, it’s suspenseful, fast-paced, and believable. So, I’m very happy with the way Digger’s Bones turned out.
A little of both. I’ve been to some, but not all, of the locations in the book. I drew on what I knew of those places from memory and photographs I had taken. For other areas I did research using everything from Wikipedia to professional archaeology archives. Of course I never spent time searching for bones in the Middle East because it isn’t part of my educational or career background.
You could say that the religious and philosophical aspects all come from my own life. I am the questioning type and want “real” answers to my spiritual questions; especially after attending parochial schools as a kid. I believe, although it may never be found to be true, that the events in the book are quite plausible. And I hope that my diligence in research will have readers feeling the same way. Four reviewers of Digger’s Bones have compared it to a Dan Brown novel, so the controversial nature of the book may not appeal to everyone.
What project are you working on now? Will you have a new book coming out soon? Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I’m working on the sequel to Digger’s Bones with three books, including the first, planned. Angie Cooper is my driving force, I love getting her into trouble and watching her get out of it. I really try to see it through Angie’s eyes and allow the emotions she feels to be the emotion the book expresses. At the moment I see plenty of archaeological mysteries heading Angie’s way and I’m very excited about that.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Read widely. Read outside of your chosen genre. If you write horror, read a romance novel. If you write about dark vampire filled streets, read a classic. Be sure you read outside your genre so you don’t become a cliché of your own style, it happens to the best of writers.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thanks for reading. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter and I’m more than happy to converse with readers on any topic from the book. Or guitars, I love guitars!
Paul Mansfield Keefe was born in Lowell, Massachusetts and grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire. He worked as a multimedia artist and programmer for non-profits and corporations creating websites and applications since the early years of the Internet. Music and animation led him to realize his story telling talents could best be put to use in writing novels. Digger’s Bones, the first book in the Angie Cooper Series, is his debut novel.
Check out Pauls Website! http://www.paulkeefe.com
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