An Interview With Richard Paolinelli

Born in Turlock, California in 1964, Richard began his writing career as a freelance writer in 1984 in Odessa, TX and gained his first fiction credit serving as the lead writer for the first two issues of the Elite Comics sci-fi/fantasy series, Seadragon.
In 1991 Richard started his sports writing career at the Gallup Independent before moving on to work for the Modesto Bee, Turlock Journal, Merced Sun-Star, Tracy Press, San Mateo County Times and the San Francisco Examiner. He also served as an editor and photographer with some of the newspapers and wrote for several online publications.
Richard won the 2001 California Newspaper Publishers Association award for Best Sports Story while at the Turlock Journal and a CNAE award for pagination in 2005 while serving as Sports Editor at the Merced Sun-Star. He was named a Player of the Year in 2002 by the CCMR Racing Series for his coverage of auto racing while at the Merced Sun-Star.
In 2013, Richard retired as a sportswriter and decided to return to his fiction writing roots. He released two short stories – The Invited and Legacy of Death – as well as a full-length sci-fi novel, Maelstrom.
In 2015, Richard completed nearly two years of research and interviews and published, From The Fields: A History of Prep Football in Turlock, California, chronically 95 years of high school football in his hometown. One month later, his first traditionally published novel, Reservations, was released by Oak Tree Press.
In 2016, Richard was one of a dozen authors selected to participate in, Beyond Watson, an anthology of original Sherlock Holmes stories. Betrayals, the sequel to Reservations, is slated for release in the fall. The remaining two books in the Jack Del Rio series will follow Reservations and Betrayals in 2017 & 2018.


BMH: How big a part did your upbringing have on your writing?

RP:      Quite a lot actually. Because my father was in the drilling business we were moving around the country quite often. To pass the time in the back seat as we drove to our new state of residence I’d create stories and jot them down on whatever I could find to write them down on. Also, because we were in nearly every region of the country I was exposed to a wide variety of cultures and customs that exist across the U.S. A lot of those experiences and the people I’ve met along the way have found their way into my stories.

BMH: You can go back in time, meet and chat with anyone, who would it be? What would you talk about?

RP:      The second President of the United States, John Adams. I’d love to talk with him at length about the years leading up to 1776 and what kept him on the path toward independence in the face of everything that was stacked up against him and the country at the time.

BMH: Who is your hero/heroine? Why?

RP:      I’d have to say John Adams. He didn’t always take the popular stand but it seemed like he took the right stand more often than not even when it would have been much easier for him to go along with everyone else. His defense of British soldiers following the Boston massacre, despite his own growing dissatisfaction with the crown, is a prime example. His decision to defend them, and he did so successfully, cost him a lot within the community at the time but it was the right thing to do. It took a lot of courage and personal conviction for him to do that.

BMH: What is something you wish someone would have told you before you became an author?

RP:      How to best deal with all of the negatives that comes with being an author. From all the “no” responses you will get from agents and publishers when you first submit your manuscript and on to the negative reviews you will get once your work is published. It isn’t always easy to brush that off and move on at times. The best way to do it, or so I’ve found, is to remember this saying: “You are never as good as people say you are and never as bad as they say you are.”

BMH:  Why crime fiction?

RP:      I’ve always enjoyed reading mystery-thrillers – from the Hardy Boys mysteries when I was a young boy and up to Dan Brown today – so I guess it was only natural that I would come up with some mystery-thrillers of my own creation. It is very challenging to not only create the crime itself but also lay out the clues within the story in a way that keeps the reader interested without giving everything away too soon.

BMH: Have you written in other genres?

RP:      Yes, science fiction (Maelstrom, The Invited) and historical sports non-fiction (From The Fields: A history of Prep Football in Turlock, California).

BMH: What is something you’ve never written about, but hope to some day?

RP:      If you had asked me this question a few months ago I would have said Sherlock Holmes because I never thought I’d ever write a Holmes story. But I was given an amazing opportunity to be a part of a Holmes anthology, Beyond Watson, that was just released. So now I’d have to say historical fiction is something I’d like to tackle down the road.

BMH:  What two words best describes your writing style?

RP:      Organized chaos.

BMH: How do you create your characters?

RP:      I tend to have my story idea in place and that lays down the basic groundwork for the characters that will be a part of it. From there I develop the characters by adding their personal histories and quirks that will help move the story along. I draw on some of the people I’ve met to help develop my characters and there’s a little bit of me in each of them as well.

BMH: Outliner or seat-of-your-pants writer?

RP:      Bit of both. I start with a basic outline of five or six key points I want to hit in the story and kind of wing it from there.

BMH: How much editing do you do as you write your first draft?

RP:      Aside from catching the simple typos as I go along, not much. I get the story down from beginning to end. Once that is done I go back and start editing.

BMH: How do you use social media to promote yourself?

RP:      Right now I use Facebook and Twitter quite a lot. There are quite a few groups in Facebook for the genres I write in and promoting in them has worked out well. My sci-fi story, Maelstrom, has a book trailer, which I post to help draw interest.

BMH: What do you think of the new faces of publishing….ebooks, POD, indie-publishing?

RP:      I like them. They have all opened up many possibilities for writers to succeed who would otherwise have not been heard from if we were still locked into the old way of book publishing. I’ve discovered and read several writers who have self-published some excellent stories, Gibson Michaels (The Sentience Trilogy) and Ryter Rong (Ireland Calls My Name) are two great examples. It has also allowed writers to have more control over their work. For example, while I like the fact I have been traditionally published, I self-published From The Fields specifically so I would have complete control over the final product.

BMH: Do you blog?

RP:      Occasionally, but I am not an everyday blogger. Or even an every week or every month blogger for that matter I have to admit. I’m just too busy writing and promoting to blog regularly. I have done some guest posts on others’ blogs though.

BMH: What comes first for you, characters or plot?

RP:      Plot.

BMH: How about some hard-earned advice.

RP:      Don’t take rejection letters personally. If you really want to be an author then keep on writing no matter how many “no” responses and other negative comments you get.

BMH: What do you do to cut loose and have some fun?

RP:      Leave the computers, laptops and tablets behind and go on a road trip.

One Comment:

  1. I enjoyed learning more about Richard’s writing process and also about his other books. His advice is very good. You have to keep on writing, no matter what.

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