Interview: Paul Spence

There’s still no sign of Paul Spence – author, archaeologist, and twin brother of editor Thomas Weaver. Swatting at the mosquitos covering my bare legs, I cross the jungle clearing to a stone temple. I walk along its walls, looking at carvings of fishermen using spears to catch some kind of cephalopod. I used to be a marine biologist, but I can’t identify the species. Someone hacked away chunks of stone from the images of marine life, while leaving human images intact. I circle the temple, trying to mentally piece together an animal from the fragments. If things were to scale, I’d be looking at Humboldt Squid or Giant Pacific Octopi, but the primitive stonecarvers clearly weren’t very bright – the spearheads point towards the fishermen instead of towards the catch. One carving makes no sense – only a nautilus could have so many tentacles, but there’s no sign of a shell. Another carving lies torn from the wall, half-buried in the dirt a few feet away. It shows a squid using several tentacles to secure a human captive, while another of its tentacles swings a mace or scepter at the captive’s head. I think I can give up on species identification. I swat another dozen mosquitos, leaving bloody smears on my legs. I look down at my pad of paper and scratch out half of my questions. I want to get out of here.

I understand that you and Thomas are identical twins who were raised separately. What was it like the first time you met as adults?

Awkward.

Are there any differences or similarities between you and your brother that surprise you (things you wouldn’t expect to be genetic)?

Epigenetics is a bitch. Also, I’m the evil twin — you can tell by my goatee.

What is the most interesting site where you’ve done archaeological field work?

I’ve found them all to be interesting, but it’s hard to beat having worked at Blackwater Draw National Historic Landmark. I was part of a dig there a couple of years ago. It was very exciting to be digging at the place where the Clovis people were first identified.

Do you have any advice for young people who might want to become archaeologists?

Get used to camping and working outdoors. It is hard, physical labor, but very rewarding.

You have written science fiction about archaeologists on other planets. Did you invent any new technologies you wish you had access to?

Most of the technologies are extrapolations of existing tech. I’d love to have the automated diggers, though. They’d save my back some pain.

Many people daydream about writing a novel, but never write anything. What was it that pushed you over the edge?

Reading stuff that wasn’t written well or very imaginative. My biggest peeve in fiction is when characters do stupid things because the plot needs it. I’m always screaming at the book, “Why are you doing that?”

Are any of your characters based on yourself, or people you know? If not, where do they come from?

Not really. Tebrey is a bit like me, but not too much. My characters are built around what I need them to be for the story, although sometimes they surprise me.

What planet-wide science fiction catastrophe scares you the most?

Most planet-wide catastrophes that I can think of are real potential problems, such as asteroids, supernovas, focused beams from pulsars, plagues, global warming, climate change in general, overpopulation, nuclear war, biological war, etc. These things are real and have the potential wipe us from the face of the earth. There isn’t really a damn thing we can do to prevent any of them, either. So, yeah, those things scare me.

What science fiction universe would you like to live in?

My own, of course, but then, since I write multiverse novels, I already do…

As a number of authors and aspiring authors follow this blog, I’d like to ask you some business questions.  What has your sales pattern been – mostly at release, or slow and steady?

Sales have been steady. I’m not sure what is good or not. That it sells at all makes me happy. People seem to like my books — what more can I ask for?

Has releasing a sequel caused a spike in sales of the original work?

Yes.

Have you tried any promotional activities that worked surprisingly well, or failed miserably?

I tried Kindle exclusively for a while. It didn’t work out.

I’m a heavy consumer of audiobooks from Audible.com. I haven’t seen any of your books there. Why not?

I don’t trust Amazon…? To be honest, I haven’t thought of expanding into that market yet, but I will consider it.

Any last words?

Are you about to snuff me out? I won’t go down without a fight…

Paul has released three novels in a series referred to as “The Awakening”: The Remnant, The Fallen, and The Madness Engine. There are also two free short stories which expand on the series. Paul has a Goodreads blog, and news about his writing can often be found on his brother’s blog, North of Andover.

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9 comments

  1. Your interviews are always so much fun.

    1. Thanks. I hope to line up a couple more for later this year, or early next year.

  2. […] by the Planetary Defense Command blog (with its awesome tagline, “Defending the planet from bad science fiction”) to read […]

  3. Brilliant! “Since I write multiverse novels, I already do…” – I had to laugh at this… 😀

  4. […] may remember that I’ve interviewed author Paul Spence on this blog. His first novel is free for a few days at […]

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