It’s very exciting to shine light on the books from other writers who also share the love for writing. I love interviewing success stories here on ALST (A living series talk) since I sincerely believe aspiring writers can learn from their journeys.
And today’s ALST spotlight is with Paul Hollis.
The best seller and Award winning Author of ‘The HollowMan’ Series….
Paul Hollis grew up during a time when the notion of a shrinking world was still in its infancy. People lived in rural communities or in city neighborhoods, rarely venturing far beyond the bordered rim of their lives. But as a kid, Paul tumbled off the edge of the yard reaching for greener grass. Having lived in twelve states and eventually working in all fifty, he fell in love early with seeing the world on someone else’s money. Since then, he has lived abroad nine years while working in forty-eight countries, spanning five continents. These experiences helped inspire the novels in The Hollow Man series. From traveling through Europe as a young man, to flying nearly three million miles which took him nowhere near home, to teaching companies worldwide about coming global implications, as a world tourist Paul Hollis brings his own unique viewpoint to his mesmerizing thrillers.
Paul has a dual BA in English literature and psychology from the University of Illinois. In addition to having worked for IBM and others in worldwide physical and video security,
he is an active member of International Thriller Writers and the St. Louis Writers Guild, as well as an international conference speaker.
Hi Paul, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little more about yourself?
I was born in a small town east of Birmingham in the US. My family moved to Chicago when I was five and I came of age in California. I entered university at the end of 1967 and fell into a blossoming subculture that reshaped my reality, figuratively and perhaps a little too literally.
I worked for IBM and had worldwide responsibility for several emerging business opportunities for the company, one being intelligent video surveillance. After 9/11, as you can imagine, security and safety became of paramount important to corporations, police departments, governments, casinos, banks, retailers, and a host of others. As a result, I was almost constantly traveling on my way to somewhere else .I’ve lived in some exotic places such as London, Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Anchorage, and more. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in all fifty states and almost as many countries. If you’re thinking of your dream vacation spot right now, I have probably been there.
These experiences have allowed me to interact with people within their own cultures, experience their spiritual and political environments, and understand their hopes and dreams. Consumed with an overwhelming fascination to learn something from every person encountered along my journey, I was able to understand the world through their eyes; its animosities, ambitions, and motivations. As a result, the books in The Hollow Man Series have a ring of realism that pulls the reader into the scene with the characters, whether it’s entering a dark alley in Madrid or sitting in a café on the Champs Elysees.
It’s a special treat to know more about you, so what have you written?
The Hollow Man
Series is based on true events during the early 1970’s. The Hollow Man traces some of my experiences as a young man traveling in Europe. At the time, terrorism was on the rise and I had been assigned to learn as much as I could about it. Most early acts of terror were specific, personal and damage was focused on a distinct, definable enemy. But terrorism was beginning to change its strategy to the familiar, senseless chaos we recognize today. The death of political figures no longer seemed to bother us as much as these new, random attacks against our children. Targets of innocence became preferable because they hit closer to our hearts and the fear inside us grew larger with each incident.
My sequel to:
The Hollow Man, is called:
London Bridge is Falling Down.
LONDON BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN IS A MESMERIZING THRILLER RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES OF HISTORY.
During the same timeframe as The Hollow Man, animosities between England and Ireland had become razor sharp. Mass bombings and cross border clashes were constant reminders of Ireland’s struggle to be united and free. The media had dubbed these conflicts “The Troubles” which had already claimed almost a thousand lives and there was no end in sight. Militant activities were spiking amid rumors the IRA had developed a list of targets designed to bring England to her knees. Like The Hollow Man, London Bridge is Falling Down is based on true events and includes some of the same, unforgettable characters.
My work in progress is
Surviving Prague, the third instalment of the series. A British MI6 agent and an American field analyst are running for their lives after being implicated in the murder of a high ranking government official. Trapped in a Communist country with no way out, the two are forced to find the killer to save their own lives. But the treacherous trail leading through the dark underworld of terrorism takes them right to the center of a plot to dominate Western Europe.
Wow, Sounds amazing!
Let’s talk about creative process. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I write from a very shallow outline. Because my work is mostly character driven, the plot is laid out in chapter boxes using a few sentences to keep the action moving with the characters. As the characters come alive, change, grow, etc. the plot changes in the same way. Though I try to remain true to the plot outline, occasionally it strays because of character development.
But generally, the drift is minimal. It’s important to me that plot and character exist in sync like words and music. Otherwise, a fully plot driven novel is just a story told without the sound and passion of real life and a wholly character driven novel is at best, characters looking for something to do to give their lives meaning.
One of the greatest challenges in writing a series is keeping it fresh and alive. You’re so good at that – Would you kindly share with our readers what are your thoughts on writing a book series?
There are three important challenges I encounter in writing a series.
First, sustaining a character arc can create difficulties. A character begins a series with certain viewpoints that change through events in the initial narrative. As the second narrative begins, the character should reflect the impact of the first novel and the third installment needs to show continued growth.
It’s also not easy to maintain the story arc across multiple books while ending each with a resolution that leaves the reader satisfied. Try to plan a high level view of your series then plot convenient ending points.
Lastly, the tone of each book should reflect the series but not serve as a rerun. There should be something that surprises but at the same time, the reader is reentering the same world left at the end of the last book. If it is too different, the reader may feel betrayed and stop reading.
We all need to create a quiet room within our mind that can serve as relaxing chamber and which acts as a decompressing unit to our fast life. How do you relax? Any special destress technique as writing involves a lot of sitting.
I’ve been taking guitar lessons for ten years and I’m still the “world’s okayest player”, as the saying goes. I would love to be able to play really well and I would also love to blame my lack of skill on the fact I’m left-handed playing in a right-handed world. But the truth is, playing the guitar well requires a huge level of practice. Strangely, that’s very similar to writing.
That’s so cool to catch up this side of you as well. Infact I do recollect when we first met on social media we talked about music. Well let our readers get a chance to know more about you so what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
First-time authors may be overwhelmed by the amount of conflicting information that’s going to be flying at them. Try to tune the noise out and write. Write the story you need to write with your own style and voice, not the one you think agents, publishers, and readers want. Find the time to write on a schedule, every day and write until your story is drafted.
Proof it, edit it, stylize it, or whatever until you’re satisfied with the result. Then hire a professional editor. An editor will raise your work to the next level. You will hate her, disagree with her, and argue with her but listen to your editor and make the suggested changes. In the end your book will be much better for it.
During the writing process, join social media and make friends, not followers. Ask questions on your social networks and I guarantee we will answer from personal viewpoints of experience, knowledge, and strength. Avoid most of the Googled ‘how to’ articles which ask your same questions but never seen to get to the ‘how to’ part.
Awesome! What a brilliant advice. Can readers discover more about you and you work?
Thank you Inderjit.
Of course, I would be delighted to connect as well with my readers. They can connect and explore more about my books here are the links.
The Hollow Man Series:
Amazon Author Page:-
Book Links: (World wide)
London Bridge Is Falling Down:
The Hollow Man:
Awesome! this is going to help our readers to trace you at a click.
Thank you very much Paul, for taking the time out of your busy schedule and being a part of
A living series talk.
I wish you great success and warm regards.
It’s my pleasure talking to you Inderjit. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.
My pleasure as well.
Keep smiling keep shining.