Name Paul W. Feenstra
Where are you from
Born and raised in New Zealand, by Dutch immigrants.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I grew up in a rural setting, with an older sister and a younger brother to torment. School never interested me much, and always felt there were more productive things I should be doing. As a result, the school principal caned me for my unscheduled absences. Made little difference.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Presently I’m in the USA promoting and marketing my novels, and looking forward to June and the release of my third published historical fiction novel, ‘For Want of a Shilling’.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
In 2011 I was fortunate to have seven months of pure idleness while I recovered from a full Achilles tendon rupture and subsequent surgery. During this time, I realized I had an unfulfilled dream and wanted to write books. I just needed a story. During recovery, I happened upon the story purely by accident and began researching and writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I saw my first novel in print, then it struck me.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
This is a difficult question to answer. I’m not sure there was any one thing that inspired me to write other than perhaps a love of reading.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes, I do. I think my style is unique. I love developing characters, and want the reader to picture clearly the scenes and situations I write about. I add humour, admittedly my own sense of dry wit, and people seem to relate to this and find it enjoyable.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Choosing a title must feel good, it has to be right, and rather than force the issue, I just allow it to come to me, even long after I’ve begun writing.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Every novel does contain a unique theme or message. I’m certainly an advocate of the downtrodden, and in history, there are no shortages of those who’ve been maligned.
My first published novel, ‘Boundary’ is about early colonization and what wealthy men did to obtain land and how far they would go. The message draws attention to greed, unfairness and the plight of those whose lands were taken from them.
In ‘The Breath of God’, the message is simple, does ‘religious faith justify violence’. Very topical in today’s times.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I pride myself in my research and accuracy. I spend so much time speaking to experts, asking questions and reading. I take nothing for granted, and discovered even hundreds of years ago historical accounts differ. So, which is correct, version 1 or version 2? In those instances, I try to make an informed decision based on logic and probability.
Using past experiences helps … the people I’ve met, what I have observed … so I believe my books are an abstract account of my experiences.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
As a child, I read voraciously. Books like, Biggles, The Famous Five, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe … They left a huge impression on me.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t have a single favourite author. I love Jose Saramago for his characterizations, Lee Childs for a free-flowing writing style. Robert Ludlum for detail and drama and RW Peake for research and accuracy. I like to think I incorporate a little of them all into my writing style.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Other than my Agent and Publisher, I’m largely on my own.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
For me, writing a novel is not a whim, but a carefully designed process to create a compelling plot that’s meant to entertain from the first page to the last. If I can take anything from that process, it’s the opportunity to expand my skills and make each successive book even better. So, no, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I think when you’ve finished reading a good book, and you go, ‘Wow that was amazing … I’d love to be able to do that’. What better inspiration is there?
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m currently writing my fifth historical fiction novel, titled ‘Into the Shade’. The story begins around the events that caused WWI and takes the reader on a journey from Sarajevo to the Italian countryside and finally the Adriatic Sea. The story has all the elements of mystery, spies and the British Secret Service, a touch of romance, and of course adventure. This novel has been challenging to research, but at the same time the most rewarding.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Reviewing your own work, again and again. Making subtle changes, tweaking and re-tweaking, and then just when you think you’ve finished, you begin again, one last time. I find that the most challenging. ‘A novel is never completed, it’s just abandoned.’
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Travelling to the locations I feature in my stories is important and very useful. Sometimes visiting a location provides a feeling or stirs an emotion that online research or books can’t do. I try to capture that feeling and transpose it into my creative writing.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
On ‘Boundary’, my publisher’s creative team designed the cover, they did a fantastic job and the book looks great.
When it was time to begin work on the cover for ‘The Breath of God,’ I asked my publisher if I could take the cover photo, he agreed. I wanted an authentic cover that was relevant to the region I featured within the novel. I arranged to meet a few guys who were willing to model for me. This is where it became interesting.
At the end of the photo shoot, the main model asked me what the book was about. I explained, and told him about some central characters crucial to the story, in particular a famous warrior who never lost a battle to the English. The model stops walking and stares at me and replies, ‘I am a direct descendant of him.’ Made the hair on my arms stand straight up. Amazing.
The cover on the novel to be released in June 2017, ‘For Want of a Shilling,’ contains a photo I took of all three of those models.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Pacing myself – ‘quality over quantity.’
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I don’t write about a topic until I fully understand it. This requires intensive research and patience. Ask the experts who I annoy with my constant questions. Learning is another wonderful aspect to writing great historical fiction.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead.
In ‘Boundary’, I see roles for the actors, Ed Norton and Nicole Kidman. In ‘The Breath of God’, Morgan Freeman, Johnny Depp, Anthony Hopkins and Cliff Curtis would be ideal. And certainly, Matt Damon, Susan Sarandon and Cliff Curtis would star in ‘For Want of a Shilling’
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
For writers beginning their journey – my advice is not to over analyse, go with your heart and let creativity have priority.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I welcome positive feedback. I think writers like it when readers comment on their stories.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
‘Spycatcher’ by Matthew Dunn.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
John Cleese makes me laugh, and injustice makes me sad.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
The guy who knocked my motorcycle over and took off without leaving a note.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
‘He gave it his all.’ Because when I do something, I don’t do half measures.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Photography and wrestling bears.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Depends on mood.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Pasta and Asian foods are my favourites. The colour green, and I enjoy classical music, and rock.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Website – www.PaulWFeenstra.com/
Facebook – Paul W Feenstra @Author.Feenstra
Instagram – PaulWFeenstra
Twitter – FeenstraPaul
Amazon Author Page