Why did you start this blog?
Initially, I wanted to share my second book, Carrie's Secret, in a new way. Actually perhaps this was a very old way, in a modern medium. My idea was to serialize the story. But as I wrote it, I did not feel comfortable with that approach. I was going back and making too many changes for ongoing serialization to work. But I'm keeping the blog instead with the idea of sharing questions, decisions and ideas about my writing process.
Why did you write your first novel, Development?
I wanted to throw a light on the cost to nature of business development. I am concerned with man's exploitation of the natural world, of beauty and of innocence. Real estate development is one place where that exploitation is often seen. But the wanton destruction of nature for profit happens in industry and farming as well. Equally concerning is the exploitation of each other, of other human beings, again for profit. I think it is important to recognize the real cost of mankind's expansion and growth.
Tell us about Carrie's Secret.
It is a complex whodunnit, based in Boston, in a psychiatric hospital. It continues with one of the characters from Development a few years later. Someone has abducted a beautiful girl. And then later, her sister who witnessed the crime, is admitted to a mental institution where the abductor works. That's enough spoilers!
Is it necessary (or important) to have first read Development before reading Carrie's Secret?
No, it isn't necessary. Carrie's Secret stands on its own although two of the characters from Development do appear.
Are the characters in your books based on real people?
Most of the characters, are completely made up. Others, such as Dora, Maddie, Jared and Nicole, for example, have some traits of people I have known. Virtually all the incidents that take place in the book are fictional. And in all cases, the dialog is my own. It is true that there is a little of myself in Hank and even Jared. There almost has to be. I think any novelist cannot help but infuse something of himself in at least one character.
What do you like to read?
I especially like police procedurals. I always like the slightly jaded and edgy detective who, despite his faults, has a moral core and catches criminals in sometimes unconventional ways. Favorite authors in this genre include William Kent Krueger, C.J. Box and Michael Connelly. I also like historical fiction, especially novels that trace family generations down through many years.
Do you have a writing schedule?
No, I don’t have a regular schedule. I need to feel a certain amount of spontaneity to write and that doesn’t fit well with schedules. However, I find I am at my most creative and I generally feel sharpest in the early mornings, so if I can carve out time to write, that is when I do it. I need to feel I have a fairly open block of time. The words do not flow if I am conscious of other parts of my life that need time and attention.
What do you like about being a writer?
The process of losing myself in a different time, place and character. I enjoy feeling what my characters are feeling and responding with dialog and actions as they naturally would. If I have set the scene and the characters well, I find the dialog flows out of me very naturally. It is that sense I have heard other artists describe of not feeling as though they are actually doing the writing (or playing music or maybe painting). It is more a sense of it happening to you, of the words flowing through you from an unknown source. And you just let it happen. I love that experience.
Is Paul Backalenick your real name?
I could not have made that up. A бакалейщик is a Russian grocer.