Monday, August 05, 2013

Strangely Funny Authors: Meet Paul Wartenberg!

Today, I'm interviewing Paul Wartenberg, who wrote "I Must Be Your First". We met at NaNoWriMo and, although he relocated, we've stayed in touch.

Q: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

When I was younger and was getting into reading, perhaps around First Grade, I was intrigued with the idea of books being what they were, that someone went out of their way to create them, put the words onto paper to tell stories or pass on information. In my family, we kids were encouraged to find outlets for creativity, music or art or writing, and for me it got to be writing (I was okay at art but never got past a certain stage). I worked on the high school's creative arts magazine, took classes on writing fiction, studied journalism as a career.

Paul's Muse
Q: We met at NaNoWriMo, so I gotta ask: plotter or pantser?

A mix of both, but I'd go with plotter. I'll have a basic outline and list of major characters, and then it's just a question of setting the scenes, and starting the story.  But everything else is wide open: half the time I'll create a new character I didn't plan on, or change a dialog or change the characters saying and responding to the dialog. The changing point is where and when I feel like I'm flying by my pants to get the rest of the story told.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your writing process when you're not doing NaNoWriMo?

The Writing Process: Step One, plan a day when I'm not scheduled to work. Step Two, do a lot of laundry that day. Step Three, blog about writers' block. Step Four...
I kid.  I do plan for a day I'm not full-time working and get my laptop or desktop fired up to get the writing done.  If I'm travelling somewhere for a day, and I can plan ahead, I sometimes bring the laptop with me, travel earlier than I need to, find a spot to plug in and write, and use the extra time between here and there to get a few pages done.

Q: I know you're working on something new that's not a short story; tell us a little about it.

It's a novel that's part of a superhero universe I've tinkered with over the years.  The idea of humans with psychic-based "talents" who can enter superheroing as a licensed profession, but it also happens to be very much like our universe where super-hero comics existed (1930s) before the Talents were scientifically proven (during WWII and conclusively during the 1960s), which means that the heroes have to cope with pop culture expectations (not to mention the fact all the good superhero names are taken, meaning they have to work under fake common names).  It plays like superheroing as a professional sport: trading cards, promotional tours, stunt shows, etc. with heroes up for trades between franchise cities: one short story idea I have is one of L.A.'s heroes horrified he's getting traded to Des Moines (sorry Des Moines, but seriously your Mad Scientist quota is shockingly low).
I've published a short story based in this universe: The Hero Cleanup Protocol, through It's ebook only at the moment.
The novel itself is about two of the more unique powersets I'm allowing inside the universe's rules, one of them a young woman hunted for her unique Talent and the other the only person on the planet able to defend her.

Q: Peanut butter: creamy or crunchy?

No. OH NO. You ASKED. I warned you NOT to ask. The flame war is upon us whether we want it or not!
(whisper: actually, I prefer honey roasted flavor)

Q: What makes you so sexy?

...wait, what?

Q: You've worked in libraries, so you've had access to a smorgasbord of books. Who is your favorite author and what really strikes you about their work?

I'm currently a big fan of Neil Gaiman. Just finished reading Ocean At the End of the Lane. He's able to create stories that are at once familiar yet fresh. I tend to read more non-fiction, though: a lot of history, sociology, computer science, general academia. If I read fiction it's more science fiction/fantasy/something with a humorous vein to it, which is where Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett count for a lot. Ray Bradbury, one of the best short story writers I've ever read and I will argue the case to any doubters. Outside of SciFi I'll read Elmore Leonard and Tim Dorsey (vicious but twistedly funny).

Q: Why are there so many librarians in Second Life? I've met a bunch of them there.

I can't speak for all librarians, and to be honest I'm not in Second Life (never got past the avatar formation stage). Librarians do tend to be tech-savvy for one thing (we need to keep up with technology as the information we manage is more digital than ever), and while most librarians might not be into MMO gaming they would be interested in alternate reality/world building. Maybe also they want to build libraries in other worlds...

Thanks for talking to us today!

Paul's books,Welcome to Florida and Last of the Grapefruit Wars, is available at Amazon. Read Paul's blog at Witty Librarian and the Book with the Blue Cover.

And don't forget: Strangely Funny is now on sale in printKindle, and other email formats.


Paul Wartenberg said...

Actually, "Welcome to Florida" isn't on Amazon, it's only on Barnes&Noble ebook. I allowed to cross-sell that between B&N and Amazon by the by? I'm still figuring this stuff out...

Sarah Glenn said...

You probably could. My novel sold on both Amazon and B&N.