About a year or two ago I stepped into one of my now favorite place to buy books: The Kentucky State Book Fair. I love this place because it showcases wonderful authors who were born and raised in Kentucky. There, I met one of the best: Paul Ramey. Paul is the author of “Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire.” (If you haven’t read it, you need to. Just saying.) Here I have an interview of him, featuring questions on writing, being an author, and more.
Where did you get the inspiration to write?
From the time I was a child I was constantly tinkering with stories, characters, and plotlines. While other kids were playing war with their action figures, I was working through tons of character development and dialogue, and in the process learning what made different characters tick. From that, one of my first dreams was naturally to become a comic book artist and writer. I made countless underground zines from about fourth grade all the way through college, through which I taught myself to draw, write, and develop the discipline and patience needed to bring to life the ideas exploding in my head. I only read comics for the longest time, and couldn’t get into reading novels until late high school. I was fortunate to have encountered the groundbreaking X-Men “Dark Phoenix Saga,” as well as Neil Gaiman’s brilliant “Sandman” comic book series later on. Those and other great story arcs had a huge impact on how I learned to create. When I write now, I still visualize scenes as comic book frames and pages (and sometimes movie scenes); I’m very visual that way, and that process helps to capture it all. A lot of people comment on how short and fast my chapters tend to be, and that may be the main reason; in comic book land there’s not much space for extra fluff!
What is the hardest part of writing?
Allowing failure to be a part of the process. No one likes to waste time, and if you’re employed, have a family, hobbies, etc., then the pressure is really on to get it right the first time. But that’s almost always impossible. Very rarely is the gift received full-formed; mostly it’s fumbling about in the dark, and you have to enter into the writing process with the awareness that there will be many dead-ends. In the end, it’s about the work itself, the time spent … not the words being tallied. A failed chapter that never makes it to the novel may still serve a crucial purpose somehow, working through some issue or block that the reader will never see. You have to give your story that kind of breathing room, and to be ready to let go of some of your favorite words when the story as a whole requires it. Nothing is so precious that the reader should suffer for it.
What is the best part of being an author?
Creating a world that people enjoy being in and want to revisit. That is an incredibly validating experience.
What sparked your first idea for a novel?
Cemeteries. I am a passionate taphophile – I love the mystery and beauty of ornately-carved cemetery markers, and enjoy stories that somehow capture the art, symbols, and rich, mysterious history of cemeteries. So that was the backdrop. But what actually set the book in motion was the birth of my daughter, Sofia. Before that, I was focused primarily on creating music and art. But with the arrival of Sofia, I found that I could no longer spend hours on those pursuits. It really started driving me crazy, because I had no personal creative outlet. Then, one evening, a germ of a character drifted into my head. At the first opportunity I sat down in front of the computer, put my fingers to the keys, and less than an hour later I had in front of me the beginning of what I knew was the beginning of a novel. I realized at that moment that I could write in my head during time spent holding and tending to my daughter, then jump to the computer during brief breaks and get as much down as I could. With all creative doors closed, this writing procedure became the veritable window for me, and I think it saved my sanity. I did this every night for six months, at the end of which I had a first draft of “Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire!”
It’s all very ironic, as writing a novel was maybe the very last thing I ever thought I’d do, and certainly hadn’t anticipated. Without the arrival of Sofia, “Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire” literally would never have happened, and wouldn’t you know it’s the creative accomplishment of which I’m proudest. So it is to her that the book is dedicated.
Do you outline?
Only in my head, a little bit. Mostly I let the words and chapters themselves guide me into mysteries, plots, and even unexpected characters. I have a basic idea of where the book needs to go, but the organic writing journey is what gets me there most of the time. As my stories involve mysteries, I do have to pin down significant clues, twists, etc., that I have in mind, and weave them in at appropriate moments. I have lots of Post-it notes to remind me what not to forget!
If you were writing a novel based on your life, what would the title be?
“Mad Compulsions in the Creative Zone”
What are your favorite books/authors?
The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco, DaVinci Code – Dan Brown, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs, Hobbit/Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkein, Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us – Seth Godin
Almost any biography!
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
The Late, Great Freddie Mercury. Queen’s music has been the soundtrack of my life ever since I first heard Bohemian Rhapsody in 1975, and Freddie has been a huge inspiration to me — a force of nature who constantly strove to create and experience more. That really resonates with me. And yet he was a very quiet fellow, which also resonates. I don’t know if we’d have much in common overall, and he’d probably be quite irritated by all my gushy fangeek questions, but he’d certainly know how to set a table!
Are you currently working on a sequel to “Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire?”
I am currently working on the second Edgar Wilde book in what is on track to be part of a trilogy. I can’t say much yet, but the book picks up a few months after the first story ends — It’s summer, Edgar’s relationship with Shelby continues to blossom; The Grimoire — the legendary lost book of spells — continues to cause stirrings and grumblings among a few key players; and an entirely different kind of mystery soon envelops our friends, threatening to change the course of things forever!
It’s a thrill to step back into the world of St. Edmund Island, Massachusetts, and hear these great characters speaking in my head again. It’s a more ambitious novel than the first, delving deeper into the characters’ backgrounds and personalities, and also serving to tie the first book to the anticipated third. There’s also going to be some significant loss before the end. But the second act is always darker, isn’t it?
Last but not least, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?
ONE: Show up for it. The book won’t write itself. Writing is a journey that must be walked one step at a time, and you can’t wish it forward.
TWO: Be interested in EVERYTHING. Let your brain become a towering pile of trivia. You never know when something you thought was useless mind-gunk will show up to give your plot that extra bit of flavor!
THREE: Forgive yourself. Start again. Rinse. Repeat.
FOUR: Take time to enjoy being a writer, and be ready for happy accidents along the way!
FIVE: Learn the proper typing techniques. Typing was by far the most useful thing I ever learned in high school, and has saved my hands and back.
Hey, everyone! So, if you haven’t checked out Mr. Paul Ramey’s novel “Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire,” you definitely should. It’s a wonderful book with a wonderful plot and beautiful characters (such as Edgar Wilde, himself.) There may even be a romance brewing! Still, go check it out. It’s amazing and definitely won’t be a waste of time. If you’ve already read it, definitely leave a comment below, and tell us what you think. Bye for now!
Happy Reading! 🙂