Let's start with you telling us a little bit about yourself, Paul.
I guess part of who I am came from the way I was raised, a kind of a nomadic existence in the 1950s. My mom was a single mom and during those times it wasn’t cool to be raising a child alone without a father, 2.4 brothers and sisters, and a cat or dog that didn’t shed. We had the dog, a little Maltese poodle we both loved dearly and who travelled with us during those years, but unfortunately, he shed. J
I was the first in my lower middle class family to get a college education and that was mainly due to my grandparents who helped us when Mom had difficulty finding a place to live or gainful employment. After college, I joined the Peace Corps and spent almost five years living and teaching in Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia. When I was 13, I wrote my first storybook about a train that toured African game parks. So I guess it was kind of prophetic that I ended up in the land of thirteen months of sunshine—if you don’t count the two very heavy rainy seasons.
Until I retired, I taught adults with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and emotional problems in two community colleges in California, so I guess you could say my love of diversity continued on in my professional career and played a large part in what friends I made and what job choices I made.
What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
In January 1969 I took my first trip, from where I was stationed in Eritrea, Ethiopia, to East Africa and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with two other Peace Corps Volunteers. I’m definitely not the athletic type and my husband, Bob, usually has to drive me kicking and screaming to the gym.
When did you start writing, is it something you've always been interested in, or did it develop later in life?
I’ve always written. The best part of college and post-grad work was always the writing exercises and the theme papers the instructors required of us. As an educator I wrote quite a few, very boring journal articles until I discovered my interest in fiction and memoir. I started writing fiction when my mother passed away. It seemed to be the only way I could deal with my grief by making up worlds where I had control over what happened to the characters. Then of course, being gay and living through the worst of the AIDS crises in the mid-1980s did a number on most of us, so I imagine those terrible times contributed to my need to control the world around me since we had absolutely zero control over AIDS. I guess, like everyone else, I’m the sum total of my experiences both good and bad.
Has it been everything you thought it would be or not?
It has and it hasn’t. Writing has its ups and downs as all writers know. When the writing flows, it’s a kind of heaven. When it doesn’t, it’s more of a hell. I’m thrilled to be writing and publishing with JMS Books and am so glad that late in life I’ve found a home for myself and my work.
How did it feel when you realized that your very first book was going to be published?
Amazing! To be honest when I sent in my first LGBT themed manuscipt to JMS Books, The View from 16 Podwale Street, I was almost certain no one would like it. I was wrong. The book not only found a home at JMS but it won a Rainbow Award in 2012.
What's your favorite part of writing a book?
I’m a plotter and a researcher, which mainly comes from my days in education. The best part is always discovering WHAT to write about and how to set the characters and plot in motion. The writing is great fun when the juices are flowing but…not so when they aren’t, and you’ve written yourself into a corner as I often have. Moving ahead can be frustrating but also fun as you see your story veer off in all sorts of directions you never thought of in the planning stages.
Do you get time to read for pleasure? If so, which books do you enjoy?
I do. Every day. Usually I go through about three cups of morning coffee after we feed our shelties and settle in for an hour or so with our e-readers. My favorite contemporary writers would have to be Elizabeth George, Deborah Crombie, and Ruth Rendell. I absolutely devour mysteries and anything related to WWII, fiction or non. One of my all-time favorite LGBT-themed novels is Sarah Waters\' The Night Watch and I highly recommend it to you. I still enjoy re-reading the short stories and novels by Shirley Jackson and dipping into the classics now and then like A Passage to India.
Are there any other genres you'd be interested in writing?
I’d wanted to try writing a paranormal romance and participating in this year’s NaNo (National Novel Writing Month), has provided an opportunity to do so. We’ll see what develops.
Please tell us a little about your most recent release.
A Manx Tale was just released by JMS Books and is set during the summer of 1941 on the Isle of Man. Here’s a short synopsis:
This third installment in the Lovers & Liars Wartime Series finds Caroline and Cyril recently wed and honeymooning on the Isle of Man—a glorious spot in the middle of the Irish Sea marked by picturesque villages, rocky cliffs, and bracing winds. Caroline is immediately drawn to the island’s history of rampaging Vikings, tales of mermaids and legendary kings, and the friendly inhabitants with quaint superstitions and proverbs. In no time, Caroline discovers she’s fallen in love with her surroundings. But as unexplainable events unfold, she is convinced sinister forces are at work. Part by accident and part by design, Edward and Leslie join the couple, and together they must work quickly to identify a turned British agent, retrieve a top secret document, and learn the true meaning of the phrase: It all comes back to the camps. Will logic and reason prevail or will a bit of magic and island whimsy save the day?
What can we look forward to in the future from you?
I have a short Christmas story due from JMS Books in early December. A Christmas in Kent catches up with the Lovers & Liars characters and rings in the New Year with a few interesting developments and surprises along the way.
December 1941. Caroline, Cyril, Edward, and Leslie are home for Christmas from their recent exploits on the Isle of Man. On the surface all seems right within Caroline’s world, yet there’s something bothering her that can’t be ignored much longer. Christmas in Kent will indeed be full of surprises.
Anything you want to say to your readers?
Mainly to say that I very much appreciate your interest in my series, and I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the characters and the plots that evolve in the series. Thank you all very much. I’m having great fun writing Lovers & Liars.
Thank you so much for the interview, Paul!
Paul Alan Fahey's three most recent releases:
A Manx Tale:
The Other Man: 21 Writers Speak Candidly About Sex, Love, Infidelity, & Moving On:
Excerpt from A Manx Tale:
Caroline watched a pair of gulls weave and dip their wings in the heavy winds over the turbulent sea. She stood at the ferry’s stern on the upper deck and leaned over the railing. Cyril’s hand on her shoulder broke her reverie, and she turned to embrace him. She shivered and he unbuttoned his heavy coat and wrapped it around them.
“Mm. Much.” She leaned back into him.
“I looked all over for you. A quick dash into the gents and my bride disappears.”
She laughed. “You might be better off if she had. I’m very high maintenance you know.”
“But worth it,” he said. “What were you thinking just now? You looked…sad.”
“No, not sad,” she said. “Content, thinking how happy I am.” She turned and touched his cheek. “Counting my blessings.”
“Me as well. Who else would have me but you?” Cyril reached inside his coat pocket and pulled out his cigarettes and lighter.
“You’ll never manage to light one out here in this beastly wind,” she said. “Go warm up inside. I’ll be there in a jiff.”
She rubbed her hands together then glanced at her wristwatch.
The ship’s horn sounded.
Another ferry headed in the opposite direction was passing. A young man and woman on deck waved at Caroline. She smiled and waved back. Maybe they were on their honeymoon as well. A mirror image of people finding one another amidst the chaos of wartime. For Caroline there was something wonderful and comforting that came from being part of a twosome. Something she hadn’t known she’d missed. Until now.
She turned her head away from the wind, and when she looked back he was there, standing with his hat pulled down, hiding a corner of his face. He’s not fooling anyone. She’d know him anywhere. That dimpled chin, one of his best attributes, always gave him away. And of course there was the monogrammed briefcase: B.A.D. Was Billy a BAD one? She knew he’d never had a middle name. Edward used to joke about it. “Billy has no middle. Just a top and a bottom. But oh, what a bottom he’s got,\" and then they’d laugh about Edward’s secret friendship with his schoolmate.
Billy Devlin stood directly across from her now on the passing ship’s deck. A thought crossed her mind: Wasn’t he leaving the next day? Hadn’t he said so earlier in the evening? Something else felt strange, off. He was moving his lips over the sound of the blaring horns and the chug, chug of the twin engines, saying something about France. But what did it all mean?