Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I am Paula J. Mann, legally I am 44, but since my thirtieth birthday, I started to celebrate every year my fifteenth birthday. It doesn’t have anything to do with the fear of getting old or having any trouble with the passing of time. Mostly it has to do with the fact that I still feel like a teenager who has a lot to learn and has the right amount of curiosity to discover and experiment new things.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I come originally from Italy, but for a series of complicated circumstances, after the University I moved to Germany and then to Finland, where I live now.
Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e.your education, family life, etc.).
I studied visual arts at the Art Institute of Perugia in Italy, then at the age of 18 I sold my soul to sciences, and after seven years I graduated from University achieving a Master degree in Geosciences.
My father was the one who introduced me to the literature, art, and sciences. When it was his time to read us the bedtime stories, he always chose the Iliad, after that he started with the Odyssey and after having reading also The Frenzy of Orlando (Orlando furioso in the original Italian language). Those definitely put my sister and me to sleep better than any other fairy tale.
Not happy with what my own Country had to offer, I searched for a job abroad, but instead of a job, I found the chance to move away in another International Master Course organized by the University of Tübingen in Germany. From that, I obtained a job in Finland, where I finally planted my temporary roots. Curious by nature, I found the love of my life, my husband and together we started to travel with a certain regularity towards not quite touristic destinations. We have been in many conflict areas together with the purpose of discovering the facts behind the tales told from the media. We wanted to understand them from the point of view of the normal people who lived the conflict. Their point of view is an invaluable source of truth, and it had been an eye-opening experience. Certainly, we traveled also more common destinations, but always keeping an eye on the culture, heritage, history, and habits of the locals. We have a rabbit, who is going quite far from the common idea of the sweet, fluffy, loving creature we all have in mind. She is a dominant female and keeps well distinct the boundaries between humans and rabbits. She has her tender moments, but she resembles mostly a serial killer.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
At the moment, I am a bit stuck, because I am waiting for the editor to return my latest manuscript. I am considering sending a novella I am finishing so to have at least one thing to publish as soon as possible. I have only one book published, and I would like to bring something more to the public. In the meanwhile, I continue writing, working on my day job as ageologist and planning the next travel experience.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have started to write as a teenager, I used writing, together with thedrawing, as a stress release. It has always been a way to go a bit deeper into myself, discover and understand my feelings. My novels reflect a lot of that introspection, and I believe I still have a lot to understand about me, but I am not in a hurry, and I am keen tosee what else I have hidden inside of me.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
UH… are we there yet? Jokes apart, the first feeling it was when I finally saw my novel for sale to the big audience. When I saw that people started to buy or read it for free through Kindle Unlimited, the feeling was amazing, but the best was receiving positive and extremely constructive feedbacks on where I nailed it or where I need to put more attention.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Life issues, there is a jungle out there, and not everybody gets ready for it at the same time. Some people have it easier, others have it more difficult, and other gets the worst. I felt like sometimes as a writer I can return some dignity to those people who had everything going wrong in their life, to those who are wrongly judged or are victims of a series of unfortunate events.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Choosing the title is something I always fear. I generally start thinking about the story and write down the most important part of it; what happens or the features of the main character, then I shrink it until I have just a sentence. At that point, I use some symbolism to describe in a max five words the sentence. The whole process can take weeks (!)
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I love to experiment as much as possible. I love personal dramas, but I love to add some mystery, crime, and suspense to create an interesting cocktail. I am no excluding writing something paranormal orsci-fi one day, but this is still to be decided.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
None of them but there is a lot of my internal conflicts; the ones I have solved and the other that have still to be solved. Nevertheless, I try to make my characters as real as possible.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Not necessarily I need to travel, but traveling is my hobby, and I believe that being in contact with many cultures and people have helped me a lot to develop different characters.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
A cover artist I’ve found on Fiverr.com designed the first book, but for the next two, I am doing them by myself relying on the artistic background I have rediscovered, and the critical judgment of my husband.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, the main message is to go beyond the appearance and get to discover the real history of a person, before judging him or her. It is the hard work of going deeper into his/her heart to uncover the hidden gem.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
There are a lot of new authors that I have met during this first year of writing, and I am impressed with their talent as writers. There are people who still think that a self-published author cannot be as good as one who is traditionally published. This is for me a big nonsense. Not because I am self-published, but because I could really see true talent in them. Many of us do not want to have a contract because they want to keep the full control of their creative work, and that is something to be respected.
I have many authors that I love, but perhaps the two that strikes me the most are Susanna Tamaro, for her great introspective work, and Georges Simenon for his prolific work in creating the detective Jules Maigret.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Actually, I did everything on my own. Nobody, not even my husband knew about my writing hobby. Then one friend of mine, who came by chance to find out about this hobby of mine asked me if I were to publish my work. Before then I’ve never thought about it, but the idea was too intriguing, and it felt like a new adventure, so I did it. After the publication, I told everything to my husband, my friends, and family. They were all surprised about it, but also very proud. Now they are always asking when will be the next release and what am I writing now. My husband is my bigger supporter together with my sister.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Of course, mine has just started, so I can’t pretend to have everything immediately, but I am working in that direction.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The editor… LOL, she didn’t do the best job ever, and now I am thinking to re-edit it and make it perfect.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I always learn something, particularly about myself and my way to confront with the rest of the world. Writing is also a way to go deeper into my soul and rediscover myself.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
That is a difficult question, as my favorite actors are all too old for the role of an 18-20 years old dude. On the new generations, I might say that perhaps Freddie Thorp might fit the idea I have in my mind of my main character.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Never give up, success might not come as fast as you expect, but fate rewards the braves and those who persevere. It is important not to be in a hurry in publishing the first novel, be sure it is professionally edited, it has a great cover and an exciting blurb. Search advice on authors blogs or on Facebook, where you might find all the information you need to launch your novel successfully.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
The first novel might be a bit slow in the beginning, but going through chapter by chapter you will find that it is a very intriguing story full of suspense and twists that will keep the reader guess from until the end. I am fixing some small details in it, and I am preparing to publish another novel where I have been careful of not making the same mistakes again. Therefore, stay tuned because if the first novel kept you at the edge of your chair, the second will thrill you.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am reading Shiva XIV -book 1- of Lyra Shanti, and I can’t see the time to read the other books of the series
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
If I don’t remember wrong, it was Cinderella, and I was five years old 😊
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh at everything, I have a very positive attitude to life, and since neither crying or laughing solve the problem, at least with a laugh they seem better, and not so scary anymore.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would like to meet Dante Alighieri, I loved how he could imagine the Heaven Purgatory and Hell in the Divina Commedia. Perhaps I would also ask how did he come with such a crazy idea.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I love photography, walking in the woods and observe the nature and wildlife, traveling, cooking and gardening.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I do not really watch TV, but when I do, I love to watch documentaries about nature or Master Chef Australia, from where I got a lot of inspiration for my cooking.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Color: blue and dark green
Food: Indian, Italian, and Mexican, or a mix of them all. I love inventing taking one or the other ingredients from different countries.
Music, I do not much listen to music as it doesn’t really play an important role in my life, but I listen to almost anything except rap. Rock and roll, Heavy Metal, Industrial Metal, or even Opera.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
One of my hobbies will have to fill the niche, and probably would be photography and traveling. But I hope I will never have to give up writing!
Fiona: What do you want to be written on your headstone?
I won’t have a headstone, in my experience, all the funeral agencies don’t do anything else but robbing people pushing on their grief. I will have my body cremated and the ashes spread where my soul belongs: in the forest.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Sure, it is mainly a traveling blog, where I tell about all the travel destinations I am going to time after time. I also post the news in my writing, and there is a section for my books and reviews.
http://paperpenandinkwell.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-us.html is the address, don’t miss it!
Amazon link for my book: