Thursday, November 24, 2011

SPECIAL Author Interview ~ Paul Dorset (a.k.a. John Cox)

Hi everyone,

Mystery Writers Unite is thrilled to have guest author, Paul Dorset (aka John Cox) with us today.

Paul / John’s writing is as unique as his character and he has published not only titles that appeal to younger readers such as: Fergus Fedderfeeny’s Food Factory and Jai and Jasmine’s Jeopardous Journey (books 1 and 2 of the Gwillville series)but also has published titles for pre-teen, young adult and adult readers, which include: Xannu, The Prophecy and Xannu, The Healing (Books 1 and 2 of the Southern Lands series) and his newest release New Blood, which just hit bookshelves on November 1, 2011.

You’d think he would be exhausted from creating colorful worlds and captivating characters but there is more!! Paul has also published How to Write and Self-publish Your First Novel and The 10 Hour Project Manager, proving that you CAN write more than one type of genre! Last but certainly not least, Paul also has a blog called “Utterances of an Overcrowded Mind” that he posts to on a regular basis. This is one busy, busy, busy man!

Paul has been writing for many years, has had numerous articles published (mostly in the technical field of Computing), lives and works in the Pacific Northwest and is planning to continue releasing several new books through 2012 and beyond.

--- Interview

MWU: Let me start by saying I’m honored you agreed to let me interview you for Mystery Writers Unite. Thank you. Now, for the first burning question…do I refer to you as Paul or John (smiling)? Seriously, I have been to your website so I already know why you decided to publish your work under the pen name “Paul Dorset”; however, for those readers that haven’t had the pleasure, can you share your reasoning for this?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): It’s an honor to be interviewed, Becky. You know, it’s a funny thing; the name of my eldest daughter is Becki. Although, as you can see, we spell it with an ‘i.’ Just a little similarity to get you started. But back to the question. As I say on my author website, I made a decision early on in my writing career that I would use a different name to write under than John Cox. In England, where I come from, my name is very common and there are lots of published authors out there named John Cox. I wanted to differentiate myself. I come from a town in England called Poole, which is in the county of Dorset, so it seemed a cool thing at the time to use the name Paul Dorset. It’s kind of stuck to me now!

MWU: As I stated in your introduction today, you have broken through the lines of publishing various genres as opposed to only one genre. Was this an easy thing to do? What were/are the challenges?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): This is something I’ve thought about many times. Lots of established authors tell you to stick with one genre, or if you write different genres to use a different name. Me? I guess I believe in being a little different! Actually there is one genre I stick to and that is quite simply to write for ‘younger’ people as much as possible. As a kid I was fascinated by reading and I consumed books by the dozen. But sometimes it was difficult finding something that kept me interested. And that was because so many books seemed to be either aimed at an immature reader or had totally adult themes and didn’t suit younger readers. I try to write age appropriate books that can also be enjoyed by ‘grown-ups’! My genre, if you like, is the developing mind!

MWU: What made you decide to target the youth market? Are their needs / wants different from the adult market (time between releases, writing context, etc.)? If so, in what way(s)?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): As I alluded to in my previous answer, I want to encourage the developing mind. I want to give the reader a story that can be read and consumed on many different levels. Of course you have to have a good story, but I want to write books that make my readers think about more than just the story. Let me give you an example. In the first book of my Xannu series, it seems like a pretty straightforward story. Something that a hundred people have written about before. And that’s fine for the first book. Let’s get the reader interested. But as the series progresses, so the questions start to form. What is the series really about? What is it saying about religion, about politics, about friendships? I believe young minds want to process those challenging concepts – sometimes even more than adults!

MWU: I noticed that with the exception of the reference books you have written, all of your other books are “series” books. Was it your intention from the start to write a series or did that need to turn it into a series evolve as you began to write? 

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): I hate finishing some books, don’t you? If it’s a good book, I never want it to end! But of course it has to. Series are a nice way of making books longer and giving the reader more to chew on; building worlds that are rich and exciting. The types of books I write lend themselves to series. I’m not a horror story writer or a crime story writer. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy reading those kinds of books from time to time, it’s just that they’re not what I want to write.

MWU: If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see and what is a typical day for you?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): Scary! My mind is constantly working, thinking about new ideas, projects, books, and a thousand other things! I guess I’m kind of creative in that way! But it’s probably not a mind that anyone would want to step into. They would probably get a headache within a couple of minutes. As for my typical day? Wow! I wish I had one. A lot depends on what I’m doing for a ‘day job.’ I’m currently contracting for a large wireless telecoms company doing some project management stuff and that takes up a significant portion of my day. This means I have to fit in blog posting, Twitter posting, Facebook contacts, marketing of my books, emails replies, review requests, and of course actual book writing, into a few hours a day. There simply aren’t enough hours. This means I go a little crazy sometimes and just ‘chill out’ for a few hours to recharge my batteries. Like I said, you don’t want an adventure inside my mind!

MWU: This is a standard question I always ask and again, I know that you have listed this on your website but for those readers that have not been to your site, what books or authors have influenced your writing?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): The interesting thing about this question is did those authors influence my reading, or did they influence my writing? I’m not sure about the answer. Do the two things go together? When I was younger I read C.S. Lewis, John Wyndham, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King. I loved The Hobbit. I loved anything that made me think about possibilities. Now I read Kate Elliott, Robin Hobb, George RR Martin, Jacqueline Carey, and many others besides. I also read as many Indie authors as I can. I try not to read any modern stories that are similar to things I write. I have never read Harry Potter. I have never read Twilight. Should I? I don’t know. I just don’t want to run the risk of derailing my stories from where I want to take them.

MWU: Another question I ask every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): Not so much writer’s block, but there are some days when I don’t write. I am a planner. I plan my stories out with pretty intricate detail before they ever get written. Of course, there are new ideas that get introduced as well, but on the whole I know where my stories are going. This means that when I write I really know what it is I’m wiring. And as long as I am in my zone, the words come.

MWU: Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): I love the cheeky, wicked (but not evil) characters in books. Every one of my series has a character I love more than the others. Is that a bad thing? I hope not! In Xannu, it’s Vixxa. In Gwillville, it’s Sophia and in New Blood, it’s Wendy. They’re all women too! I like writing women characters. I believe in writing strong characters of both sexes. I want to write books that everyone can read and enjoy. And after all, we all need a little naughtiness in us, don’t we?

MWU: I always ask a published author what advice he would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): How much time do I have to answer this? This is a topic all by itself. There are so many things to learn and to understand as a first time novelist. I have made my mistakes too and continue to make them from time to time! The simplest answer I can give is ‘keep at it and don’t give up.’ The major reason I published my book on writing and self-publishing was to try and help others answer these questions. As an Indie author I believe it is a part of my responsibility to try and encourage and help others to be successful.

MWU: In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the one biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): The single biggest mistake I made was to think that marketing and sales just happen. They don’t. I wish I had a team of twenty people who worked for free that could market for me. Successful marketing is the biggest challenge any Indie author has today. You’re competing with thousands and thousands of other people. You can have the best novel in the world - and we all have those don’t we? ;-) – but without successful marketing you’ll sell nothing. A sobering reality.

MWU: What is the hardest part about writing for you? How did/do you overcome it?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): Sticking at it. I’m tempted to end my response there! An author is someone who has a published book. A writer is someone who writes. Ultimately the choice between the two is yours. I like the feeling I get when I tell others that I am an author! That’s what drives me to keep at it. I have written books that will survive long after I do. That’s something of which I’m very proud.

--- Paul's/John's Books


Southern Lands Series

Gwillville Series

New Release

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