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Interview with Cupán Fae Author Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer and comic creator from Dublin. His work primarily focuses on the extraordinary, be that through magic, science or just downright chaotic. His obsessions include tea, foxes and spreadsheets. He is a founding member of both Limit Break Comics and Cupán Fae. He has contributed to Cupán Fae Anthologies: Dublin’s Fierce City, Fierce Mighty, Fierce New World, Fierce & Proud and Fiercepunk.

What writing projects are you working on currently?

I’m currently wrapping up work on a book in The Black Pages, the sequel to my 2018 novel Second Sight for Sore Eyes. It explores a hidden state in the US, and serves as a vital element of the overall arc for the series. The Big Bad will be showing its ugly face for the first time!

Which of your short stories did you enjoy writing the most, and why?

In the two new anthologies, I think I had the most amount of fun coming up with the world in which The Central Fae takes place. Flowerpunk is a relatively new genre, so there was a lot of leeway in the writing process. A couple of recent trips to London helped me build up the tale in my head, with a little bit of inspiration from things like Doctor Who and Mary Poppins thrown in for good measure.

How long does it take you to write a short story? What’s the easiest thing about writing a short story? What’s the most difficult thing?

I can write one in a few hours, but how close those hours are together can be an issue. There was a two-week gap between starting and finishing The Central Fae, for example. Planning the story is both the easiest and most difficult part of the process, because I need to account for word counts ahead of actually putting pen to paper. Sometimes the issue is coming in too short.

What does your ideal writer lifestyle look like?

In an ideal world, I’ll be writing full time on my novels and comics, but until that starts earning me as much as a traditional job might, it’s a pipedream. If I had my way, full time writing would also include getting to attend conferences and conventions around the globe – post-pandemic, of course!

What does your own writer lifestyle look like? How often do you write? How much would you write in a year?

Things have been up in the air since the pandemic started, but when I was working full-time, I was balancing writing in the evenings, and occasionally on public transport. On those days, I could manage 2-3K if I was lucky. With a bit of time, I’m looking to build back up to that routine – more if I’m left to my own devices in terms of when and where I work – so I can get to the point of completing between 2 and 4 novels per year, alongside comics and anthologies.

What are your writing rituals? 

I know a lot of people have strict rituals, but for me, it’s as simple as approaching a piece with an outline to one side, a cup of tea to the other, and some music playing. Usually I’ll listen to one song on loop, because it helps me to focus. Right now, the one that does the job is a cover of All Time Low by Walk Off the Earth.

Where do you get your ideas?

I’m a big believer in using whatever is handy to get ideas if I’m stuck. Every now and then, I’ll go through a daily process of jotting down ten random ideas per day, and keep that up for a few weeks. As a result of taking inspiration from real life, part of my books focus on life as a late-20s millennial in a corporate world – the fact that his job is Death just happens to be what ties it to a particular genre.

Are you published? Tell us about your published works.

I self-publish, which is a terrifying journey to take but so much fun when you get to engage with readers. My current series is The Black Pages, a supernatural series with characters including Death, a magical detective, a snarky necromancer, and a disgruntled police officer in the magical community. 

How would you rank character, plot, and setting in order of importance in a story?

This very much depends on the story for me. For a really short story, plot trumps everything. It’s rare I choose a setting first and then try to make a story work around it – though I did do that once and I like the finished piece. Character is vital for me, because I have to like writing their story. If I have a character in mind, figuring out the plot to tell their story comes more naturally.

Do you like audiobooks, physical books, or ebooks better? Why?

I’m a physical media kind of guy. I love a paperback over an ebook. It’s just about the reading experience for me, though – I understand the appeal of ebooks, I just struggle with them!

What is your favourite word, and why?

I have two. Eunoia, meaning Beautiful Thinking; it just resonates with me. The other is Hyperbolic, because the teenage boy inside me finds it amusing to say.

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