J: Thank you so much Paul for being a guest on my blog, I’m so honoured!
J: I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of The Quiet People come from?
PC: Yes – for as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to write. But – growing up, it never seemed like a reality. It’s not like teachers at our schools are saying “that sounds like a realistic way to make a living”. So I never really believed I could be one. Then – when I was 19, a friend at the time asked – “If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?” I said I’d like to be a writer. She said, “why not try?” And I thought, yeah, I actually could try. So I did. I tried for years and years… going from novel to novel getting experience, and just a quick 12 years later my first book came out, and the crazy thing is that’s getting up to almost 20 years ago. My characters don’t age, but I do… and quickly too, it seems.
As for TQP – well, the idea came from the idea if I ever got married, and something bad happened to my wife – like – maybe she’d fall down a flight of stairs, or disappear – I would be blamed for it because crime writers would be able to stage such a thing. Could we? Probably. The idea scares me enough that I can’t get married… since I have stairs in my house.
J: Your insight into what a parent’s mind could be like when a child goes missing is impeccable, did you do any research into this?
PC: No, not into that – in these cases, I just do my best to capture what I imagine that grief would be like. But – this is the only book where I actually did do some research – I met with a Police Detective here in Christchurch and picked his brains as to how the investigation would unfold – first hour, the first evening, first day, what happens the second day, etc etc, and that gave me a roadmap for the first few days of the book. It was incredibly helpful – and to be honest, I felt bad because often when I write about the police in books, I have them chasing their tails for some time and making huge mistakes in the process… otherwise, they’d solve the crime by the end of chapter one.
J: Who would you like to see playing the parts of Lisa & Cameron and DI Rebecca Kent if The Quiet People was turned into a TV series/Movie?
PC: Oh geez – tough question, and until you asked it, I’ve never thought about it. Adam Driver would do a cool Cameron. Reese Witherspoon could do Lisa, and Halle Berry would make a nice Kent.
J: As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?
PC: I was an avid reader – though I couldn’t name what I read back then as it’s all a blur. I still am. But of course, I’m a product of the 70s, which means I’m an 80s kid when it comes to TV – so The A-Team, MacGyver, Magnum – all that stuff I grew up with. My all-time favourite? Probably Star Trek. I’m what I call a closet Trekkie.
J: What is your favourite book you read in 2021?
PC: Tough. I have two. One is called ‘Kill Your Brother’ by Jack Heath. The other was ‘The Hate U Give’ by ‘Angie Thomas’. Two very different books – the first was a lot of fun, the second confronting and important.
J: Do you have a favourite Author? Or a favourite book of all time?
PC: Favourite author – I guess Stephen King. It’s a bit of a cliché, but yes, I think he’s the best. Favourite book? Funnily enough, it’s not a King book, but it’d be The Passage, by Justin Cronin.
J: If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
PC: Too many to choose from. But – it would be cool to go back in time and watch humans figure out what is edible. I’ve always wondered about that – in human history, people must have tried everything to know what tasted good and what didn’t, what had to be cooked and what could be raw. Would have been a messy time. So I’d love to see the moment where somebody looked at what fell out of chicken, and said, “Let’s try eating that”.
J: If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?
PC: Well, I guess I’d have to invite my Mum. She’s been dead a while, and I think she’d be slighted if I had other dead people around and didn’t ask her. But I wouldn’t want to get stuck talking to her all evening, so I’d probably invite one of her dead siblings so they could hang out. Then my Dad, who is very much alive, would be upset if he heard about this and hadn’t been invited, so I’d have to ask him too. Then I’d need somebody that I could talk to while those three are catching up because I’d get bored with them – I’d invite Tiger Woods in the hope he can help me with my slice.
J: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
PC: I had some cool stuff for 2020 that all fell apart I’d still like to do – from the Northern Lights in Norway to Machu Picchu, to the Great Wall of China, to a trip through the Caribbean, Morocco, Jordan, Portugal, I had 15 countries lined up… as soon as our borders open I’ll try to make it happen. But where would I really love to go that I don’t think I’ll ever really get the chance? Antarctica. I have this thing where I like to throw my frisbee in as many countries as possible (42 at the moment), and even though Antarctica is a continent, I’d love to add it to my list. But it’s not an easy trip to make, nor is it cheap.
J: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
PC: Well, years ago Michael Robotham gave me some great advice – he said always have some go-to stories for when you’re on stage. It doesn’t matter what you’re being asked up there, but have four or five great stories and try to use one or two of them when you’re up there.
J: If you were moving to another country, but could only pack one carry-on sized bag, what would you pack?
PC: Haha – I always travel with carry-on size luggage – even if I’m heading to Europe for a month or two. Ipad, passport, cash, sneakers, shorts, jeans, jacket, t-shirts. That’s all I ever need. Plus a bunch of cables for charging stuff – half my luggage is cables.
J: Do you have a hidden talent?
PC: I can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under two minutes – or could use to. I know a couple of neat card tricks. And cats tend to like me.
J: Are you currently writing another book?
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