Paul Juser lives on the road. His life-long dream is to be the first Nobel Prize winner to pen a “Friday the 13th” film.
Hi Paul, please tell everyone a little about yourself.
Paul: Born in Binghamton, New York, a city proud to serve as inspiration for Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone.” I grew up in the country outside, playing epic Transformers adventures, or the next installment of “Friday the 13th.”
When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
Paul: I chose to pursue writing in the 4th grade, and have never lost sight of the goal, except for a few errant aspirations to be a marine biologist. My only dream prior was to be a paleontologist. Unfortunately the job isn’t nearly as exciting as either of the first two Jurassic Parks.
Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?
Paul: I was always turned on by the way Bret Easton Ellis would bring the same characters back in each novel. Pat Bateman was popping in long before he was a vicious murderer, and who would think drug-addled Victor Ward could become a terrorist? Jack Kerouac did the same thing, but changed all the names between books. I recycle my characters the same way. Each story is one long timeline with a general continuity, but each is a stand-alone story. I’m hoping to finish my next novel, The Alarm Clock at the End of the World to release in 2013, as long as the Mayans were wrong.
How do you develop characters? Setting?
Paul: I usually have the idea mulling in my head for a while. Eventually a scene will be formed enough for a jumping-off point to start writing. That scene usually becomes the start, or near the beginning, even if I envisioned it near the end. Characters start as sketches and become fleshed out as I revise. I give them speech patterns and mannerisms, and build a backstory that makes them active devices in the plot. Settings need to be just as much of a character as anyone moving around and speaking lines. If a writer is drawing a reader’s attention to a detail, that detail should be important.
Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?
Paul: Dr. Filth is a superhero with the power to convince himself anything. He’s been an insurance salesman, a card-carrying crime-fighter, and a cryptozoologist. In The Alarm Clock at the End of the World, he uncovers a global conspiracy to hijack religion. Dr. Filth is about fifty pounds overweight and has filthy, stinking dreadlocks.
Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Paul: I usually write out the main body of the story from beginning to end, and then comb backward to make sure everything lines up. The initial writing process could take a couple days with a short story, or a month for a script. Then I revise. That’s the dirtiest word in a writer’s vocabulary, and I don’t find many have the stomach for it these days. Alarm Clock first went to paper seven years ago, and some parts are older. Salvation Shark was at least eleven before it started on Laugh at Yourself First.
Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?
Paul: I hear the words in my head, and I try to emulate what they sound like. Sometimes it’s serious, but most often it sounds like Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t like 1st person POV, but Dollars Per, Salvation Shark, and Alarm Clock are all First Person Shooters. It made sense in Salvation Shark, but in the others it was just lazy writing. I once thought about rewriting Alarm Clock from a 3rd person narrative, but eventually decided it was too big an undertaking. When readers get the story in hand, it will be the inferior 1st Person form, so you know Dr. Filth’s every disgusting thought.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Paul: If you watch the old Twilight Zone episodes, again and again you see scenes from the city where I live. Even in the Fifties, Rod Serling could see the strange energy in this place. I grew up reading Lovecraft, listening to Slayer, and watching endless horror movies. My grandfather was a chemist, and I was encouraged to learn science like other kids memorized Bible verse. I’m awful with Math, so I never enjoyed chemistry, but animal life and geological history remained important for life. Even when I’m writing on more serious subjects, I can see these same sensibilities bleeding through.
What are your current projects?
Paul: I’m putting together my first photography show. It’s a short story from Laugh at Yourself First, “The Disappearance of Cotton Mayweather,” about a man that finds an abandoned city off the highway. While he sees no people, there are signs all around of recent occupation. Part 1 is showing in April at the ART Mission Theater, and Part 2 in May. The short story appeared on Laugh at Yourself First in 2009.
Paul: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
www.printisbetter.com has Laugh at Yourself First, and links to all my printed books. Periodically I give away books and other promotional material, and details can be found there as well.