Paul Comeau on Writing and his release ‘More Things in Heaven and Earth Things’ (author interview)

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More Things in Heaven and Earth by Paul Comeau
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reamspinner Press
Cover art by Catt Ford

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Paul Comeau here today talking about writing, books, and his latest release, More Things in Heaven and Earth.  Welcome, Paul.

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Q.  Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story?  And why?

     I’m definitely not a planner in the sense that I carefully map out chapters and plot lines before I begin to write.  I start with a general idea, as I did with More Things in Heaven and Earth.  It began with that single line from Shakespeare, which I kept coming back to in all my years of teaching Hamlet.  I knew I wanted to write a story about a vampire, but I wanted it to be different from the countless other vampire stories I’d read.  Then the idea of a vampire masquerading as a Roman Catholic priest was an irony too delicious to pass up.  The whole idea of Damien consciously playing a role in a drama of his own creation would allow me to incorporate my love of Shakespeare into the narrative; and indeed Damien frequently quotes from the plays.  The idea of Damien rescuing the young Danny came to me quite by accident, but then the question became rescuing him from what?  That’s when the gay theme took shape, as Damien seeks to protect Danny from his father, Frank, and Monsignor Monahan’s attempts to force him into conversion therapy.  And so the story developed.

     That’s pretty much how I write, how my stories take shape.  One idea spawns another, but I don’t start out with any definite plan.  I’m frequently surprised by how a storyline develops.

Q.  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?

     I’ve been fascinated by the supernatural and fantasy genres all my reading life.  I suppose that interest really began with the Disney storybooks and movies I read and watched as a child.  I remember being charmed by the three fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty and in awe of Maleficent when she turns into the dragon at the end.  And who can forget the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, another favorite, or Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol.  Growing up, I couldn’t get enough of stories of witchcraft and hauntings and possessions:  The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist, The Other, to name a few.   In fact, I’m currently working on a novel about a demonic possession.

     It’s more difficult to explain why.  We lived in an old house, and my bedroom was up a

narrow flight of stairs in the attic.  The room was lit by a single bare lightbulb in the center of the ceiling with a pull string hanging down about a foot out of my reach.  I had to jump to catch the string to turn on the light, and was alone in the spooky dark until I managed to catch and pull it.  I often missed, which made it scarier.  There was a holly tree outside my bedroom window, which made scary shadows in the moonlight.  I also used to stay up late to watch old horror movies, which added another layer of fright.  You’d have thought with such experiences I’d have shied away from the supernatural genre, but just the opposite seemed to happen.

     I still read every vampire and werewolf story I can get my hands on, and watch every accompanying movie, no matter how derivative and corny.

Q.  Can an author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?

     After thirty-two years of teaching literature, not to mention the preceding eight years of reading and writing about it in university courses, More Things is my first attempt at a novel, so I don’t as yet have many characters under my belt.  I’ve encountered writers who seem clearly to favor some of their characters over others based on the care and effort they’ve lavished on them.  I suspect even Shakespeare had a special place in his heart for Hamlet, perhaps the most complex character ever created.  I must confess I favor Damien over the others, though Danny comes a close second.

     As a vampire, Damien is swift, powerful and fearless, qualities I often wish I had; but he can also be thoughtful and caring, qualities I hope I have in some measure.  Danny is so vulnerable he’s often frightened and insecure, and tends to be easily hurt in his quest for love and acceptance.  Like Damien, I found myself wanting to put my arm around him and protect and reassure him.  So yes, I favor these two characters above the others.

Q.  How early in your life did you begin writing?

      I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t composing stories in my head.  However, I wrote my first serious short story when I was about eleven or twelve.  I had an old manual typewriter with a

worn ribbon on which I typed it my eight-page, double-spaced wonder.  It was about a hapless young man (I’m not certain I even gave him a name) who happens to come upon a haunted house and is foolish enough to go inside.  What follows is utterly predictable, utterly banal, but I thought at the time it was brilliant.  I even drew a beautiful derelict house for the front cover.  I cringe to admit I was pretty proud of my effort and actually showed it around to a couple of family members and relatives, for which I mentally beg their belated forgiveness.  Like Damien, I seem to have been quite shameless.

     My writing subsequent to that was of an academic nature: several articles on the works of various authors and a book-length study of the fiction of the Canadian writer Margaret Laurence.  Now retired, however, I’ve returned to writing that for me is more rewarding and certainly a lot more fun.    

     About More Things in Heaven and Earth by Paul Comeau

When young Danny Crawford’s father and a priest conspire to subject him to conversion therapy, Danny only sees one way out. But little does Danny know he’ll soon have a sentinel watching from the darkness, a guardian angel in the most unlikely form imaginable.

Damien, a vampire, is inexplicably moved by Danny’s plight. He takes it upon himself to make sure Danny’s father and the priest can never hurt him again, giving Danny a chance at a normal life. As Danny grows up, Damien struggles to keep the boy—and later the young man—from harm. He does not dare go any further, no matter how much he wants to. To do so would ruin everything he’s tried to do for Danny. He doesn’t realize that as Danny embarks on a successful modeling career and begins dating, Danny feels empty, longing for something—or someone—just beyond his reach: a shadow, a presence he despairingly believes forever lost to him. 

When brutality and violence threaten Danny again, Damien must make a decision—risk revealing himself to Danny, or leave Danny to his fate.

 About the Author

Paul is a proud Canadian, who has recently retired from teaching high school English and is relieved to have finally traded the drudgery of lesson prep and essay marking for the pure joy of writing fiction.  He is addicted to paranormal investigator shows, horror movies, all things vampire, mystery novels, long morning walks, and jigsaw puzzles.  He is blessed with a loving and supportive wife, who keeps him grounded in reality while helping him navigate the intimidating world of technology, and a daughter who understands the highs and lows of the enigmatic writing process, being herself an accomplished writer and poet.  When he is not compulsively tapping the keys of his laptop, he can be found at the dining room table matching the shapes and patterns of his latest jigsaw puzzle or in the kitchen roasting, stewing, grilling, and baking.  He views cooking as a creative activity, like writing fiction, with the outcome often as interesting and unexpected.  He imagines his characters, plots, and dialogues in the process of doing any or all of these things.

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