Hello everyone! Today I've got a special treat: an interview with Paul Cude, author of the Bentwhistle the Dragon books. I've read and reviewed book one, and you can click here to check out what I thought. I'm currently reading book two right now, and I'm enjoying it so far! This is a really fun series about dragons living in London and is good if you're looking for some Urban Fantasy to dig into.
So, without further ado, let's get into the Interview!
Q. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
A. I'm not sure I knew, and sometimes still don't feel like I am one, despite working many hours at it every single day. It kind of crept up on me all of a sudden. You go from having a dream about a story, to ignoring it for months, to suddenly trying to bring it to life, to completion. For me, the first book took ages, with life, two small children and everything in between, constantly trying to get in the way. But eventually I got there and the feeling was well worth the wait. Stupidly though, I spent far too much time (weeks, if not months) sitting back, patting myself on the back, waiting for the knock at the door from all the major book companies. I mean.....how stupid? How would they even know that I'd completed my work of art? I've learned a lot since then.
Q. What influences your writing?
A. My dreams and life experiences more than anything. Oddly it started with a dream. 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.....mesmerising. 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." At the time 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. The life experiences part is more about the human sport mentioned in the book. I've played field hockey for well over three decades now, and it's changed my life beyond recognition. I have a great affection and admiration for the other sports mentioned as well, hence the reason they're included.
Q. What was the most exciting thing about publishing your book?
A. The best thing without a doubt is when someone you don't know, and have never met, gets in touch with you to tell you just how much they like your book/books. On those occasions, nothing feels better. Not only can it turn a bad day good, but it brightens your whole week, no matter what's going on.
Q. What have you learned as you continue to write?
A. That it's really a process of evolution. It and you are never standing still, never stuck in one place. The process of putting the story into words from your head gets easier at times, but the actual writing, the words on the page, never stay still, not even for a moment, currents in the wind or sea, rearranging everything on a day to day basis. I don't doubt what, or how, I write changes every day. My mood, concentration, if I'm feeling unwell, worried, how busy I am, all change the way in which the words come out. Sometimes it's even possible to look back after the event and see a quite dramatic change.
Q. Where's your favorite place to write?
A. Normally at my computer at home. But once a week I play squash with a friend who, despite never actually being busy, always insists on making me wait about fifty minutes for him. In that time, I sit in the entrance to the local sports centre and, with a pen and notebook, lose myself in the world of Bentwhistle the Dragon without any other worries. It's about the only time I ever find to do this.
Q. Did anyone in particular inspire the character of Peter or his friends?
A. The main character, Peter Bentwhistle, is loosely based around me. The lacrosse playing dragon called Richie Rump is based on one of my best friends who was captain of the England lacrosse team and is also a fantastic hockey player. A dragon shopkeeper who sells the best mantras in the world shares the same name with one of my best friends. An important human businessman who is duped, is also named for one of my best friends. Other more minor references feature other friends and acquaintances. When looking for some of the character names I used references from everything around me at the time, while sitting working at my desk. There's a dragon called Axus....his name was gained from my Canon camera at the time, with just a tiny amendment. Also one of the bad characters is a combination of one of my favourite author's first names and surnames combined. I now have a long list of dragon names tucked away in my computer somewhere, that I can use whenever I need.
Q. In the book you spend a lot of time building up dragon culture. How much time did this take you and what helped inspire it? Also, what's your favorite part of this dragon world?
A. I suppose it's a coming together of everything in my mind. The books I read, the films I watch, the fact that I like playing RPG's on my computer...just everything. I go to bed at night and, as previously mentioned, my dreams seem to take over. Not all the time, but I would say one out of three nights, I dream about dragons. Sometimes I won't remember until much later on the next day, sometimes I wake up and remember instantly. The dreams can be about anything.....the overall plot of the books and the way forward, or just some tiny little detail that I've missed and that matters so much. And if I ever find myself stuck with something in the plot, all I have to do is think really hard about it just before nodding off, and more often than not, I'll have the answer the next day. Strange, but true.
As for the favourite part, I would love to go and watch a Laminium Ball match and be part of the atmosphere at the game. Just thinking about it sends shivers down my back.
Q. If you have to sum up your book in six words, what would it be?
A. Twists Turns Hockey Lacrosse Rugby DRAGONS
Q. What's your favorite snack food?
Crisps. I find it very hard not to crave them. Especially during the evenings.
Q. If you could see any artist perform live (living or dead) who would it be?
A. I'd be very keen to take in my favourite band.....Genesis. But on reflection, to have such a chance and just do that, given that I've seen them a few times, would be wasteful. It would have to be a choice between the Beatles and Elvis. The Beatles probably win. It would be amazing to see them at the Cavern club in Liverpool during their heyday.
Q. You have to live in one fictional place, where is it?
A. Ankh-Morpork from Terry Pratchett's Disc World. I think I'd fit in just right and would probably just wander around gawping at all the amazing characters, when not working for Sybil at the dragon sanctuary. If not there, then probably anywhere in the Star Wars universe.
Paul Cude is a husband, father, field hockey player and aspiring photographer. Lost without his hockey stick, he can often be found in between writing and chauffeuring children, reading anything from comics to sci-fi, fantasy to thrillers. Too often found chained to his computer, it would be little surprise to find him, in his free time, somewhere on the Dorset coastline, chasing over rocks and sand in an effort to capture his wonderful wife and lovely kids with his camera. Paul Cude is also the author of the Bentwhistle the Dragon series of books.
description and picture taken from Paul Cude's website