Good morning, Mr. Fahey and welcome to Coffee Time Romance. Let me say it is an honor to interview you. Please grab a seat in our cozy recliner, and enjoy a hot cup of coffee, along with our baked desserts. The readers are very eager to learn more about the talented Paul Alan Fahey.
I know you have been ill, and getting ready, if not started, your chemo. I hope that all goes well for you.
Hi, and thank you for asking me to be here; I’m doing fine today and really appreciate the opportunity to talk to your readers.
Why not tell us how your day begins when you first wake up?
Mostly after I feed our three shelties around 6 AM, my hubby, Bob, and I read for about an hour then we do email on our laptops. Recently I’ve been working on the edit of a memoir about my life with a single mother. It’s been great fun and the book, The Mother I Imagined, The Mom I Knew, should be out in late summer. It’s an interesting format composed of fiction, memoir, and poetry. For the last 25 years or so my mom always seemed to creep into my fiction and nonfiction and that’s how the idea for the memoir came about. If anyone has questions about the book, I’d be happy to answer them.
Would you please tell us about your current release, an anthology, Equality: What Do You Think About When You Think of Equality?
Equality is a collection of personal essays on the topic of equality. When I approached each author to contribute an essay to the book, I only asked one question: “What Do You Think About When You Think of Equality?” And you know what? Each essay came back to me as a unique exploration of the subject. Some of the contributors include: Catherine Ryan Hyde of Pay It Forward fame; Christopher Bram, an author and essayist, whose book, The Father of Frankenstein, became the film Gods and Monsters; Anne Perry, international best-selling mystery author; Dennis Palumbo, writer and psychotherapist, who created the acclaimed Daniel Rinaldi mystery series; and twenty-one other wonderful writers.
Where do you get your inspirations to write your books?
For Equality, three concurring events culminated in my decision to edit another anthology. First was the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality. Then my marriage to my life partner, Robert Franks. Finally, a close friend of mine—the wonderful editor, teacher, and anthologist, Victoria Zackheim—edited an amazing anthology titled Faith. Victoria simply asked her contributors one question: “What do you believe?” And her writers were off and running on the subject. I couldn’t put her book down and wondered if I could do a similar book on the topic of Equality. And that’s how it began.
How long does it normally take you to compose a book?
When I’m not editing anthologies, I write novellas. I’ve written a series of WWII gay romances called Lovers and Liars. Each novella, set in London from the Blitz to the end of the war, features a gay and a straight couple living in absolute harmony in a small unnamed English village in Kent. I loved writing this series, and I think the entire collection of novellas took about two years to write. I wrote one at a time and published them separately. Finally, my publisher, JMS Books, put them all in two paperback volumes.
What does your workstation look like?
Near my desktop computer in my office upstairs, I have a photo of my mom on the Greek island of Mykonos and a copy of the WWII novel, Mrs. Miniver—the inspiration for my novellas. This is the computer I use for most of my writing and editing; however, I’ve become lazy the past few years during my illness and tend to do most of my writing now on a laptop.
If your book were to be made into a movie, do you know what actors you would like to play the part?
For the WWII Lovers and Liars series, I had in mind for the gay characters, actors of the period such as Leslie Howard and James Mason. I actually saw these actors in the scenes I created. If the books were made into a series today such as those WWII shows on PBS Masterpiece Mystery, I think a cast of unknowns would be perfect and this would allow them to interpret the various main roles in a fresh and unique manner.
When composing your stories, do you normally close other things out and solely concentrate on the book until finished?
I do exactly that. The book is on my mind 24/7. I keep notebooks all over the house—in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen—as well as in the two cars we own. I’m always thinking about the characters and the predicaments I’ve put them in. Usually I don’t rest until I get thru the first draft. In fact, that is the advice I give writers when I do workshops: Get the first draft done. Then worry about the story in the rewrites.
Can you tell the readers what upcoming things or events you are working on?
Right now, I have two projects:
1) Finishing the production process for the memoir of my mother I mentioned previously: The Mother I Imagined, the Mom I Knew
Here’s a short blurb about the book:
The Mother I Imagined, The Mom I Knew by Paul Alan Fahey
What is memory? How much of what we remember actually happened? How much is wishful thinking, added to and embellished over the years? These are questions you’ll be asking yourself while reading The Mother I Imagined, The Mom I Knew
In the tradition of Patrick Dennis, Truman Capote, and Tennessee Williams’ memory play, The Glass Menagerie, Paul Alan Fahey’s memoir recounts a son’s loving yet often maddening relationship with his mother over four decades. Told in a hybrid mix of memoir, short fiction, and poetry, the author tells of their nomadic existence in the 1950s; his mother’s four month visit in Africa while he completed his teaching contract; and the last decade of her life.
“A web of memories as delicate as the perfume of a flower, and yet as strong as the currents in the sea. It is joyous, funny and sad, and speaks not only of love but of infinite understanding.”
— Anne Perry, International Best-Selling Historical Novelist
Author of three acclaimed Mystery Series: Thomas & Charlotte Pitt; Monk; WWI
2) I’ve volunteered to teach a memoir writing class at Mission Hope Cancer Center in Santa Maria, California. The staff has been so wonderful to me during my illness and many patients want to write their memoirs but are intimidated by the prospect. I’m currently thinking about how to get them writing about their past experiences. Really looking forward to this workshop.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you choose to go and why?
As a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa for five years in the late Sixties, early Seventies, I had a chance to travel all over Africa and Europe so to be honest I’d love to fly to New York City, take in some Broadway and off-Broadway plays and haunt the museums. I sure hope I can do this in future. There are also some wonderful places to revisit here on the Central California Coast like San Simeon, Hearst Castle, Morro Bay, and Cambria, as well as the lower end of Big Sur.
In your spare time, what do you enjoy doing?
Reading literary fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, and watching Hitchcock DVDs; each time I see one of his films, even if it’s for the tenth time, I still find aspects of his craft that eluded me in past viewings. I’m currently taking an online course about all things Hitch offered by Turner Classic Movies and loving it.
I also meet often with good friends—many of them local writers. We always enjoy each other’s company and seem to have plenty to talk about.
Is there a certain food or dessert that you get a craving for?
My husband makes a killer Sacher torte. Totally chocolate. Fell in love with this amazing dessert while in Vienna and can’t seem to knock the habit. 🙂
If anyone were to come visit you, what is the first thing you show to your guests?
I suppose I’d say, come on in, have a seat here in the living room and let’s chat. Just like we’ve been doing here.
Thank you, Mr. Fahey, for being with us today. It has been a delight getting to learn more about you and your books. We wish you continued success, and hope all goes well for you.
It’s my pleasure. Thank you.
Reviewer & Interviewer
Coffee Time Romance & More