Paul Dalzell-Interview and Giveaway with the Author

PAUL DALZELL-Interview with the Author
The Reading Cafe would like to welcome the author of THE LAST DREAM BEFORE YOU DIE-Paul Dalzell

TRC: Hi Paul and welcome to The Reading Café. We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Paul: I’m originally from England, and am now a US citizen, as is my wife who is from Papua New Guinea. I am a fisheries scientist and work for a federal organization that develops fishery management policy for Hawaii and other US Pacific Islands like Guam and American Samoa.

TRC: Your author information states that you are originally from the UK, have travelled extensively through the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, and now reside in Hawaii. Wow. Were your travels for business or pleasure? And what was your decision to settle in Hawaii?

Paul: My fascination for the South Seas and Pacific islands stems from an early age and the great Victorian novel, ‘The Coral Island’ by R. M. Ballantyne. I’ve been very lucky that my career has taken me to so many different places in the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia. I have lived in Papua New Guinea, Philippines, New Caledonia and now Hawaii. I loved working in New Caledonia (a French territory) where I would travel all over the South Pacific assisting fisheries managers and scientists with their work. However, I was always a contractual employee and it was the lure of a permanent job in Hawaii that made me apply to work here. I had also been to Hawaii several times and really liked the place for its diverse cultures and I knew my wife would be happy here also where Pacific Islands and Asian cultures intermingle.

TRC: What challenges have you faced as an author?

Paul: Learning a whole new trade! I have authored numerous scientific papers and reports, but fiction was a whole new ball game with its own rules and conventions, and whole new community of authors, agents and publishers. I was lucky to take a fiction writers workshop with the author William Bernhardt, who besides being an accomplished writer, is also a great teacher. Bill’s lessons and guidance were instrumental in my being able to develop as a fiction writer. I tend not to suffer too much from writers block, but I can be very indolent, sometimes preferring to mess around with my guitars. The toughest thing for me to write about was the female characters in the book and their relationships with each other and with the male characters. Getting this right was crucially important since at the core of the book are Jack Bone and the three Nosferatu girls.

TRC: THE LAST DREAM BEFORE YOU DIE is your first novel in the Jack Bone Detective series. Would you please tell us something about the premise of this novel?

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Paul: It’s no secret that vampires have been such a strong element of pop culture for quite a while with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Twilight Saga, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Underworld. I could probably spend all day listing examples! The chauvinistic Englishmen in me wanted to repatriate the story to England, where much of Dracula took place and also to set it in and around my home town of Leeds which is not far from the Brontë parsonage at Haworth. I wanted to pitch an ordinary guy into extraordinary circumstances over which he had little control. The scientist in me also wanted to explore the back story to vampirism, relating it as much as possible to real natural phenomena. I also wanted to use the term ‘Nosferatu’ as an homage to the eponymous film with the great Max Schreck, which still creeps me out today. And, as in the book, I am amazed at why this small, damp overcrowded island at Europe’s edge continues to be a magnet for so many immigrants, many of whom are smuggled in illegally and at great risk to themselves.

TRC: How much research was involved in the writing of this series?

Paul: Thank God for the internet! I spent a great deal of time in researching the historical characters that appear in the book and researching all of the various vampire myths. I even unearthed a master’s thesis on the vampire in detective fiction. Google Earth and Google maps were invaluable in getting the geography of the book right. I don’t think you can do too much research, but also be constantly on the alert for anything that might fit in with or improve the story. The village of Eyam for example was the feature of a PBS documentary and was aired just when I was beginning the story and so was a perfect fit for the story.

TRC: Did you have to travel back to the UK for any of the local flavor added to the storyline?

Paul: I go back to England every 3-4 years and my last trip back to England was in 2008, a year before I began work on this story. I have several books about Leeds and its surroundings that helped, and I speak to my mother in Leeds every week so I could fact check with her on local detail. It also helped that as a student I’d worked in factories not too dissimilar to the mill in the book so I could draw on these experiences for background.

TRC: Many different characters are introduced in The Last Dream Before You Die, including the Laughton’s and their extended family. Will the Laughton’s figure prominently in the continuing series of novels?

Paul: Yes, in the next book I plan to explore the Laughton and the Lucard families further, and the core characters from these families plus Alice Perkins will continue to feature prominently.

TRC: Will we see a love interest develop more thoroughly for Jack Bone in the upcoming storylines?

Paul: Good question! Still thinking about it! It’s got so many angles, a late middle aged man and a teenage girl has a strong icky factor (shades of Lolita), but then the Nosferatu girl is almost two centuries old so she’s the elder and he the younger despite the physical appearances to the contrary. That’s a fascinating theme. Plus lovers’ tiffs and squabbles take on a new meaning when your lover can literally tear you limb from limb. But in any case Bone and his relationship to Alice will continue to develop.

TRC: You have used many Nosferatu references from various storylines and lore. Why did you choose to link the Laughton’s and their family to some of the more famous and infamous literary characters (real or undead)?

Paul: This occurred through a mix of geography, literature and inspiration. Geography in that the plot takes place in the Peninne hills and near Haworth, so the Brontë’s almost wrote themselves into the book. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is of course the most famous vampire novel and it was while researching Stoker I found out about his day job as Henry Irving’s acting and business manager. Irving’s company travelled widely and that they would have played big cities

Like Leeds and Bradford and this presented an opportunity to work Stoker into the story and connect Wolftson with the Dracula novel. Having a Russian people smuggling gang in the book and thinking about the Nosferatu hypnotic powers sparked a link in my head that led to Rasputin.

TRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of the next novel in the Jack Bone Detective series? Do you have an anticipated date of release?

Paul: I don’t have an anticipated release date for the next book. I have a working title, ‘Everything Hurts’, and it involves the hunt for a pedophile serial killer who may be a Nosferatu.

TRC: What difficulties did you face getting your novel published e.g. research? Logistics?

Paul: I went the self publishing route because I spent about two years trying to go the traditional route of getting an agent and eventually being published. Friends of mine from the writer’s workshop took the self publishing route which convinced me to follow their lead. Once I was on that path I realized it’s more expensive than it first appears, however, I have no regrets. The research was fun; I write for a living with fish and fisheries, so it was great to branch out and explore a whole range of new disciplines and ideas.

TRC: What or who inspired you to write your first novel? Do you have a specific style of writing?

Paul: I am really inspired by my two writing classmates Heather McCorkle (Secret of Spruce Knoll; To Ride a Pύca) and Karlene Petitt (Flight for Control) who have published their books and shown me the way forward. I think my day job, which requires writing technical documents that formulate arguments in favor of a policy direction or interpretation of scientific results, has been helpful in developing my writing style. With respect to fiction writing I have read widely and like mystery and thriller writers like Dick Francis and Robert Parker. If I had to pick one author that I find continually inspirational it would be Ian Fleming and the James Bond novels. I love his clear, lucid prose style, and the economy with which he can describe a character or set a scene. Further, the Bond of the novels, despite the glamour and heroics, is actually rather a sad lonely character and to be able to convey that in these thrillers is to me the mark of a very skilled writer. Although he was a non-fiction writer and journalist, I am also a great admirer of the later Christopher Hitchens who again has a wonderfully eloquent writing style that I would recommend to authors of either fiction or non-fiction.

TRC: Many authors bounce information and ideas with each other and family members or friends. With whom do you bounce ideas?

Paul: I have a friend in Canada with whom I have collaborated on a full length comic thriller and some short stories, and with whom I discuss a few ideas. Another friend in Hawaii is an expert on military history and weapons so I pick his brain from time to time to make sure I’m not getting any arms and ammunition facts wrong. I also sent Last Dream out for a professional review which was massively helpful and revealed key story weaknesses. Apart from that I don’t generally bounce ideas of friends for fear of boring them!

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Paul: I have five or six completed short stories and novella length tales which need revisiting. I have a few chapters of the Last Dream sequel drafted, and I’ve drafted a few chapters of a potential virtual history/steam punk novel with a working title ‘Pax Britannica.’ There’s also a jointly authored manuscript with my Canadian friend called ‘The Friends of Eddy Relish’, which I’d like to see out in print. It’s a dark comic thriller with what we thought at the time were outlandish plots and scenarios, but many of which have come true.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Paul: As this is my first book I can only repeat what I have experienced which is you can never have too many revisions and reviews of your work, and if are serious about writing a thriller/mystery novel then sign up for a writers workshop with Bill Bernhardt, it will be money well spent!


Favorite Food
Steak and salad

Favorite Dessert
Crème Caramel

Favorite TV Show
House, Dr Who, South Park, UK Top Gear

Favorite Movie
Citizen Kane, Night of the Hunter, The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Last Movie you saw
Abraham Lincoln vampire hunter, but looking forward to seeing Moonrise Kingdom (I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan)

Dark or Milk Chocolate
Milk Chocolate

Favorite Car
Don’t drive, but as a small kid growing up in England I always loved the over-the-top late 50s Cadillacs, fins and all.

Do you have any pets?
Sadly no, we live in a small condo apartment.

TRC:Thank you Paul for taking the time to answer our questions. It is always a pleasure to meet the person behind the author and the book. Good luck with your writing career. We wish you all the best.

Paul is offering TWO lucky members at The Reading Cafe the opportunity to win a copy of his new release THE LAST DREAM BEFORE YOU DIE.

ONE paper copy and ONE e-copy (international) to be awarded

1. You MUST be a member at The Reading Cafe. If you are not a member, please join by using the log-in at the top of the page, or by using one of the social log-ins.

2. If you are using one of the social log-ins, please post your email address with your comment, as Twitter etc does not allow for email information and we will contact all potential winners via email.


4. ONE e-copy will be available internationally. ONE paper copy will be available to continental USA and Canada only.

5. The contest runs from August 13 to August 16, 2012.


29 thoughts on “Paul Dalzell-Interview and Giveaway with the Author

    • Thanks, I think the vampire genre is especially challenging, especially now because there’s so much literature, TV and movies out there. I tried to find a story thread that was a bit different. I am, however, a great fan of Trueblood. Are there any normal people left in Louisiana?

  1. Great interview Paul & Sandy!! Thanks for letting us get to know more about you Paul. And I, like you, am still waaaaaaay creeped out by Schreck’s Nosferatu!! I had nightmares for three nights in a row after I saw that the first AND only time!!

    Love the premise of your book. I have friends who laugh at me because I actually check facts periodically to see how far off the beaten path an author has gone with things of a historical nature. Whether legend or mythology or anything in between. (I know, I’m a dork ;)) Anyway, thanks for stopping by and look forward to reading your book.

    Oh, and my favorite t.v. show is The Big Bang Theory!!!!!!

    • Thanks, as a kid I was absolutely terrified by Schreck’s Nosferatu and it still gives me shivers today. The other great German movie of that period is Metropolis, of which a complete print was found not too long ago in Argentina. You look at the special effects these early cinematic pioneers could pull off and it leaves you speechless in this era of GGI technology. You sound like someone who might also be a fan of Ray Harryhausen, probably the greatest stop-go special effects master of all time

      I also like the Big Bang Theory, but in measured doses!

  2. Very nice interview, Paul and Sandy. It was a pleasure meeting you , Paul. I admire that you can pursue your dream to write, and still have your full time job, which sounds complicated.

    From what Sandy has written on her review, this is most certainly a different concept with paranormal. The fact that you have 5 or so book already written, even if it needs editing, shows how much you love to write.

    Good luck on the success of The Last Dream before you Die.

    • Thanks, I do like writing, I actually write technical and scientific literature as part of my work here in Hawaii. My wife and I don’t have kids which means I have more spare time than most, and my boss is supportive about my fiction writing which helps a great deal.

  3. Thanks Paul for stopping by and letting us get to know you! You have such an interesting background! I love the premise of this novel, suspense with a touch of creep!! *shivers* We love Heather McCorkle too!! She is a great writing friend to have!! Good luck with your new career!!

    • Thanks and good to hear from an admirer of Heather McCorkle. I suspect her Channeler novels will end up as a movie or made into a TV series.

  4. Thanks for this interview, Paul. I love the sound of your book.

    Glad you did self publishing, as you tried for two years the other way. Keep writing.

    • Thanks, self publishing is not cheap but if you believe in what you’ve written its the only way to go after stacking up the rejection emails. There’s a great moment in the recent movie ‘Anonymous’, when the wife of the Earl of Oxford asks why he must write? He answers ‘it’s the only way to silence the voices inside my head’. I know the feeling!

    • Thanks and yes, I would go the indie route again, perhaps a little more wisely than I did this time in dollar terms. The odds are so stacked against a first time author that self publishing is the only option if you want to get your work out there and you believe in your self. The market for what some have dubbed ‘the dead tree press’ is shrinking, even though people are reading more than ever. Look how easy it is now to buy second hand books on Amazon for little more than the price of postage!

    • Thanks, always nice to hear from vampire fans. As I told my sister when she asked about the wisdom of writing a vampire novel in an already well subscribed field, ‘vampires never die’!

  5. Thank you Paul for the insightful answers to our questions. It is always interesting to read about the person behind the book.

    And HOUSE…I love that show…too bad the show is done…. ;(

    • Thanks, I mourn the loss of House, probably the most original TV medic show ever. It’s essentially Sherlock Holmes in a hospital, but what also attracted me the chemistry of the ensemble cast which I will miss.

  6. Hey Paul and welcome to TRC and thanks for sharing with us today. I love reading author interviews and learning more about them and how they came into the world of fiction. Your book sounds very interesting and has such a different take on the paranormal by the sounds of it. Hmm, also seem so have a bit of the eerie/creepy aspect too. I shall def check this out.

    Is Hawaii as wonderful as it looks and sounds??? I plan to treat myself for my 40th bday and vacation there, it’s on the top of my wish list.

    • Thanks; ahh Hawaii!! I live in the concrete heart of Downtown, on the fringe of Chinatown and the industrial docklands. Its the area shown a lot in Dog the Bounty Hunter. So its like living in a tropical mix of Asia crossed with Pittsburgh. You can find the paradisaical aspects of Hawaii on Oahu, but the neighbor islands have the more unspoilt scenery, small towns and beaches. That said, I love living here, and plan to write a Jack Bone story set here called “The Vampires of River Street.”

  7. Paul, thanks for coming. Enjoyed this interview so much. It made me think of the old vampire movies and I concur that ‘Nosferau’ still creeps me out also. Love that you used the name Lucard (Dracul) in your series. You really pay great homage to the old ways. The mention of a older man in a relationship with a seemingly young vamp is hilarious and makes me think of the movie Let Me In. Underworld, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the Underworld Series are among my favorite movies. Many of us follow True Blood and enjoy the modern twist along with the enjoyable visual aids that the show gives us. *cough* Looking forward to reading this book.

    Favorite food is Shrimp Scampi with Linguini.

    Sandy and Barb *two thumbs up* on this interview.

    • If its the church I’m thinking about its St Anne’s, the Catholic cathedral in downtown Leeds. My vamps wouldn’t be phased by holy ground though as you’ll see in my book. Hope you liked Leeds itself, I still enjoy going back there.

  8. You’re absolutely right: Vampires never die…so there is almost a limitless opportunity to characterize any way you see fit. True Blood, although WAAAY off from the Harris series, keeps to the “unavailable during the day” construct; Vampire Diaries allows them to be in sunlight provided they are wearing a particular ring; Twilight…so Edward sparkles…I’ll take him in any way shape or form!!! 😉

    For your supposed “indolence”….your book seems loaded with historical facts and a passion that is contagious!!! Congratulations. I look forward to discovering this world.

    • Thanks, I like the idea that the dark gift takes as well as gives. I think it creates more dramatic tension having the daylight vulnerability as opposed to day walking vampires. Your kind remarks about my indolence are much appreciated, but I do have to get my focus on writing the next book, and not fooling around with a guitar trying to learn Led Zeppelin riffs.

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