It's Monday again, and while the general consensus is that Monday is the worst day of the week, it still brings with it a ray of sunshine, because we get to meet another new indie author! This week I am pleased to introduce you to J. Paul Stephens, author of the recently published book Devil. Mr. Stephens has quite a gift for writing, and I'm honored to have him tell us a bit about him and his book. Read on to learn more!
DSP: For starters, tell us a bit about you, we like to get to know our authors as a person!
J. Paul Stephens: I am a 36 year old husband and father working in the mental health field in rural North Carolina. I have lived in several states and in Mexico since becoming an adult, but I kept feeling the call to return home to the Old North State. I am blessed to live in one of the most striking landscapes on earth; if you’ve never visited the foot hills of NC I encourage you to get here as soon as possible. I have two beautiful children, a 12 year old boy and an 8 year old daughter, with my beautiful wife of thirteen years. Apart from writing I enjoy antiquing and spending time with my family.
DSP: Nice to meet you! So tell us, where did you find the inspiration for your most recent book?
J. Paul Stephens: My mother, who passed away in 2010, lived in, and believed, that the Uwharrie Mountains of North Carolina contain a special power. Their age, over 500 million years old, sparked a discussion between my mother and I one day and a story began to take shape. Since her death I haven’t had the energy to finish the story, though it remains on my desk top. My most recent story “Devil” is stemming from the same vine. My stories, both published and in process, have the common theme of abused women responding to a secret power that gives them paranormal abilities. I am in the process of creating a series of shorts that establish my main characters and then follow up with the capstone Novel.
DSP: So, do you have any kind of ritual for writing? Such as, you have to write with music on, or you can only write when you’re completely alone, etc?
J. Paul Stephens: I like to write in total quiet, so in my house that means early in the morning or very late at night. If I can’t get into the story I walk away and re-think what I’m doing. Not long ago I started a complete re-write of a short because I felt like my character was getting lost in the story.
DSP: Who is your favorite character in your book, and why? How about the character you had the most trouble with?
J. Paul Stephens: The way I have chosen to write these individual short stories with a common direction allows me to focus on each female individually. So, I enjoy each story for the main character. I always enjoy figuring out how each will discover their connection to The One; and revealing what role that power will play in the eventual conclusion. It is difficult because I want each character to have their own story but also relate them to the others.
DPS: Now, when you sit down to write a book, a paragraph, or whatever you‘re working on at the moment, do you just sit down in front of the computer, or do you need an outline of some sort? Is there any other prep you need in order to organize your thoughts either before you write or in the process of writing?
J. Paul Stephens: Well, I don’t listen to music much so I find myself with a lot of quiet time in my car; I drive about 800 miles per week in my day job. So, I’m kind of a weird guy who spends a lot of my time in silence, thinking about my characters; internal consistency of the series is very important to me, but I want each work to have its own unique direction. That said, I guess I do have an outline, but it is more mental and less material. However, if there is an important thought or phrase I want to capture I will jot it down for later inclusion.
DSP: Do you foresee any more books to continue this story? If so, do you think we can get a taste of what’s to come?
J. Paul Stephens: Yes, I’m going to continue writing character specific short stories to introduce the important characters of the larger novel. I believe that the stories are too interesting to be merely an insert in the larger work. “Devil“, my first short, is about Magdalene and her escape from abuse and ascension into The One. “Darling” is the second title and should be out as of the printing of this interview. “Darling” tells the story of Darla, a woman who has never fit in anywhere, and though she is a necessary member, she finds her acceptance to the coven as challenging as every other relationship she‘s ever experienced.
DSP: Other than this most recent story, do you have any ideas for different books that might be published in the future? Care to give us a teaser?
J. Paul Stephens:Yes, I am working on some other genres of fiction as well. However, the story lines are too shallow to even tease you with right now. Sorry.
DSP: Who is your greatest inspiration to write? What person makes you believe in yourself, and how?
J. Paul Stephens: Geez, I don’t know. I love so many great writers, and I get such wonderful support from my friends and family I don’t know who inspires me the most. I will say though that I often remember my sixth grade English teacher telling me that I should become a writer. I’ve thought of her encouragement often throughout the years…so if you're reading this, thank you, Ms. Drake.
DSP: Do you have any aspirations to be similar or comparable to another author? Why?
J. Paul Stephens: Ray Bradbury or Robert Cormier - the two could not be more different but both use such vivid imagery that I go back and read and re-read their works again and again. I am in awe of their ability to tell stories. I have the desire to be able to tell a story like them, but I also want to be uniquely different from them as they are different from each other.
DSP: Okay, one last question, and this one is different for every author, not to mention completely off the wall! If you could have any superpower at all, what would you pick and why?
J. Paul Stephens: I’d like to be able to shape-shift into the form of any living creature. What could you not get away with if you looked like someone, or something, else?
Another amazing interview! J. Paul Stephens' book Devil is available at Amazon HERE and stay tuned for more: Mr. Stephens is finishing up another book now that will be available very soon! I'll keep us updated!! Thank you, J. Paul Stephens, for taking the time out to interview with the Drunken Space Penguin, and we look forward to hearing more very soon!