Saturday, May 12, 2012

Welcome Fandon Fest Panelist Paul West!

ARM:     Where do you get the inspiration for your stories or characters?
PW:   I don't mean this to sound vague, but First Cause was inspired by my view of people. In the course of my early 20s, I moved back to NYC and was really properly struck by the breadth of human possibility; I also broadened my horizons immensely in terms of friendships, relationships, reading material and general worldview. I met a couple of people, and read a couple of books, in particular that helped this process early on; most of the books were nonfiction, though a couple of key pieces of fiction were my double-reading of 1984, and a short story called The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Really, though, I used everyone and everything I came into contact with as inspiration--both good and bad.

ARM:     Do your characters talk to you?

PW:   No, but I talk to them, in a manner of speaking. More accurately, when I'm in the right headspace I could have a fictional conversation with one of them if I wanted to. Most of my characters are some combination of people I've actually encountered in one context or another, though none--I think it's important to note this--are specifically written after, about, or around anyone in particular.

ARM:     What other authors would you suggest to fans of you work?

PW:   Margaret Atwood definitely, because I think from a social and intellectual standpoint some of the motives are similar. I've noticed that fans of nonfiction often like my writing, which makes sense because it's heavily inspired by history; then again, the next largest contingent seems to be the more serious-minded, thematically driven sort of reader. Not sure where that leaves me! Last but not least, fans of action/suspense novels seem to be split: some have had trouble following the flashback style, but others have loved it and called it a page-turner. I've also noticed that a high proportion of my most enthusiastic reviews have come from women, though that may or may not be instructive--though I'm glad it doesn't seem to only appeal to one 'type' of reader. But I really just answered a different question, didn't I? As for whom I'd suggest to people who like my work, it'd include fiction and nonfiction. My short list would include Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, anything by Margaret Atwood, maybe Erik Larson, from what I've read of his. Also Stephen King's better stuff. As for nonfiction, Howard Zinn. Definitely Howard Zinn.

ARM:    What are some things that you would like your fans to know about you?

PW:   Nothing in particular, except that my aim is to entertain while inspiring thought. I guess it's important that people know I'm a fan of a wide range of film, books and music, and that all of the above influenced First Cause--in other words, my influences aren't strictly 'literary', so to speak. I've learned as much from team sports, my teaching days, and my days as a desk jockey, as lots of the more 'conventional' literary or academic influences that people talk about or might ask about.

ARM:     Do you have a current work in progress?

PW:   I'm presently drafting the second book, title TBD, which will be a sequel/prequel to First Cause. I'll answer some of the questions presented in the first novel, and explore the background of the story a bit more. Of course, it'll also pick up where First Cause left off...

ARM:    What are you excited about doing or seeing at Fandom Fest?

 PW:   A lot! I'm excited to meet the other panelists; I'm excited to meet present and future fans; I'm excited to host panels and seminars, I'm excited for the Galt Hotel, and I'm looking forward to checking out Louisville.

ARM:    Where can we find out more about you and your books?

PW:   My official website is ; I try to update it pretty regularly, and it's got chapter one of First Cause as well as links to past interviews I've done and some other interesting stuff. On Twitter, you can follow me at @firstcausenyc--the direct link is here:!/firstcausenyc . Last but not least, the official First Cause facebook page is ! You can also find First Cause, along with some reviews of the book and a bio of me, on Goodreads, Amazon and Smashwords. last but not least, check out my Kickstarter page; I've got a campaign going to help fund FandomFest, which will be my first major spec fic convention! The url for that is here:

Last but not least, I'd like to thank everyone for reading. Hope to see you at FandomFest! As soon as the panel and seminar times are announced, I'll be posting them on my website.

First Cause: A Novel About Human Possibility

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