I had the lovely opportunity to interview an indie YA fantasy author, Paul Cude about his dragon infested Bentwhistle series. Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from The Past is the first book in a YA fantasy series where dragons are disguised as humans in order to protect and guide them. Paul was so kind to me that he gave me the opportunity to read his novels and a chance to interview him. This is my first author interview, so I am excited to share it with you all!
If you want to know more about Paul and his novels be sure to check out these links!
What made you want to become a writer?
Oddly it just happened. Sounds a bit crazy really, but one night, when my elder daughter was just a baby (she’s not far off 11 now), I had the single most realistic dream I’ve ever had. I didn’t remember it until the following day, but when I did, I swear it was just like watching a movie in my head…..so graphic, so intense, so…..mesmerizing. Anyhow, I told my wife, who was gobsmacked to say the least. And so was what she said to me, “You have to write it, you just have to.” Initially I just laughed off her idea, bearing in mind that at the time I could only type with two fingers. But over a period of I suppose months, I kept getting more dreams, flashbacks into the story…….sometimes little details, sometimes insights into the characters, sometimes twists and turns to do with the plot. In the end I suppose it was inevitable that I would write it. First I taught myself to type properly…..3 months, and then, well…….I began. At first I needed complete silence to be able to write, something there wasn’t a lot of bearing in mind I was taking care of one young child, with another on the way. But over time I’ve learned to filter it all out and can now write with the kids playing around me if I need to, but I still think I do work more efficiently in total silence. It has taken a long time, and I was surprised how hard and crucial the editing process was. But in the end it was most definitely worth it.
That sounds amazing! A dream book (literally)! This book was definitely meant to be if the idea came back to visit you so often. There is no shame Paul, I wasn’t a very fast or efficient typer when I started out!
Can you name any authors that inspired you growing up or who inspire you today?
When I was in my late teens, I mistakenly ordered a Tom Clancy book…..Debt of Honour. I was too lazy to return it, so it sat on my bedside table for weeks, until one evening, when I picked it up and started to read it. Many hours later I put it down, only because I needed a few hours of sleep before I went to work. I was hooked. After finishing that, I went out and bought all the other Tom Clancy books I could find. His legacy still lives on in the form of the adventures of his characters, now written by Mark Greaney. Not only have I continued to enjoy the Tom Clancy books that he writes, but have gone and bought all of Mark Greaney’s other books. Also in my teenage years, the Star Wars expanded universe books started to appear. I caught sight of the first one while working in a book shop in my role of service engineer. I can remember it clearly: Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. It had a striking blue cover with some of the Star Wars characters on it, and I had to buy it there and then, in the middle of doing my job, much to the amusement of the owner of the bookshop. My love of the expanded universe has continued ever since, and as soon as the next book comes out….I have to have it. It seems my love of books goes in phases. If I have nothing to read, I wander around a bookshop until I find something I like the look of and then read it. If I get hooked, I go back and find other books by that author. Examples of this for me are Terry Goodkind and Christopher Paolini……I love all their books. The detail, the plot…..the characters.….are just all amazing. I can only dream of writing as well as they do. Other authors I’ve found and loved this way include Robin Hobb, J.V. Jones, David Gemmell and Trudi Canavan, to name but a few. I love the way they use their imaginations and the worlds that they create on the pages of the book. They’re all very easy to visualize.
My favourite author of all though, is the wonderful Terry Pratchett. If you haven’t read one of his books you really should. While I love pretty much all the books he’s written, the ones about the guards of Ankh-Morpork, Captain Carrot, Sam Vimes, Corporal Nobbs, Angua and of course the Lord Vetinari, are easily my favourites. The characters themselves are described in magnificent detail, all with their own funny little ways. The plots twist and turn like a raging river, and the humour…..well, let’s just say that is exactly on my wavelength. I’ve cried with laughter on many occasions reading some of Terry Pratchett’s books, and I can’t recall doing that for any other author I’ve read. If you’re a reading fan, you really must try one of his books.
*lists Terry Pratchett on to be read list hurriedly* I have heard only good things about Mr. Pratchett, I will definitely be picking up his work.
Your novels deal with human social issues through a “dragon-like” perspective. Can we know a little more about the kind of issues that will be addressed?
Bullying is one of the main issues. Peter Bentwhistle, the main character has been bullied during his time in the nursery ring (a school where dragons spend the first fifty years of their lives) and we get an insight into how much that affected him, and just how it impacts on his life today and how he chooses to deal with it. Needless to say, his friends play a big part in all this. As well, fitting in is a major theme throughout the books. It sounds odd when you think of dragons, disguised as humans, having trouble fitting in, but it’s more than that. They have vast amounts of training to fall back on, but still suffer the same problems that everyday humans face, and still have the same worries and insecurities that any normal member of our society would have. Greed and criminality feature, showing up deep within the dragon world below ground, somewhere supposedly free from these kind of issues, highlighting the fact that the dragons and humans are not so different after all, despite what the prehistoric creatures think.
Intriguing. I like books that make you think of the human condition, I like books that have dragons even more. It’s a win-win.
I noticed that the characters on the cover are each holding a type of sports equipment; will sports be playing a role in the lives of these characters?
Peter and his two best friends all partake in human team sports. Richie Rump, the superstar lacrosse player, introduced Peter to playing field hockey, and Tank to playing rugby. Unfathomable to almost every other dragon on the planet, both Tank and Peter soon come to appreciate everything there is to love about playing in a team, something that strengthens the bonds of their friendship even further, if that is at all possible, as well as providing inspiration for some of the unusual and life threatening situations they find themselves in.
I am a big fan of floor hockey (which is similar to field hockey!) The Dragons are now playing sports, even cooler!
Fire-breathing beasts. Protectors of the human race. Why dragons? Was there ever a time where another type of mythical creature roamed through the pages of your story?
For me, it always seems to have been dragons. I’m not sure if it’s because of their power and magnificence, or because they are instantly recognizable, but always dragons. That’s not to say I don’t have a love of all things mythical. Nagas feature heavily from book two onward, with book four (my current work in progress) feature a whole host of unusual and bizarre creatures, going on a complete and utter rampage in exacting detail. Nifoloa, Skrikers, Camaheutos, Echeneis, Gaki, Pixiu, Asena, Conaima, Myrmecoleon, Asag and Ra-hoon just to name a few. Anger knows no bounds when it comes to scorned magical creatures that quickly come to the realization that not only have they been trapped, but completely and utterly fooled for a very long time. Revenge is certainly on the cards. More than that, I just couldn’t say.
OH my…that is a mighty list of creatures! Hoorah! I love mythology and all things magical. I cannot wait to explore these creatures in the squeals.
What was your favourite part about writing your novels?
I suppose for me it was the last two chapters of the first book. From writing the very first words, I always knew in precise detail just what would happen in those last two chapters. And whether it was because it was the first time I’d written a book, or just my naiveté, I had to write it all in order. So there was no going ahead and writing something, and then coming back to a part I’d got stuck on. That’s the only time I’ve done that. But it was a total and utter relief to suddenly reach the point where those two chapters began, and the words just came flowing out of my like a dam that had unexpectedly been breached. When you think that the second from last chapter is over twenty thousand words long….it took me very little time to write that. A few days at most. I remember feeling very satisfied once all the words had found themselves on the pages.
How wonderful! I look forward to reading those two epic chapters. I can totally relate to that, with my own stories that have a crystal clear ending with no solid beginning or middle!
Apart from Bentwhistle, do you have any other stories you plan on writing one day?
I do and they’re something far removed from the YA fantasy genre that I love so much. Stand alone books with just a hint of a connection, that although fiction, are based very much on real life events. Whether I’ll get round to writing them is something else entirely. Perhaps something to keep me busy in old age.
Best of luck on your writing, dreaming and imagining Paul. I’m sure those words will make it to the page. Especially if your typing has improved hehehe.
Rapid Fire Round!
Favourite childhood novel?
I’m not sure I had one. It was more comics for me.
A fictional world you would love to visit?
It would have to be the Star Wars Expanded Universe
Hardcover or Softcover?
Doggy-eared pages. Efficient or Criminal?
One author you would love to have coffee with?
What is your current read?
On Target by Mark Greaney
Last, but certainly not least, describe your book in 10 words!
Dragon-packed adventure featuring team sports destined to make you smile
Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat From the Past
Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them. Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past? Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes? In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon sports, you’ll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile! You’d be flamin’ mad to miss it.
Thank you so much Paul for answering all my questions. I look forward to reading Bentwhistle and exploring all the magic, adventure and fun that is waiting for me. I hope you all consider picking up Bentwhistle if you are craving a fantastical read. Also dragons, so yeah!