Interview with Author Paul Vincent Jacuzzi

Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.

Recently, we interviewed author Paul Vincent Jacuzzi about his writing and his soon to be released debut, Blackwater: A Dalton Drake Novel, a fast-paced and highly readable spy thriller. (Read the review here.) Paul holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in History and Economics and Business Administration. He is passionate about researching historical events, weapons systems and intelligence services.

Paul Vincent Jacuzzi holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in History and Economics and Business Administration. He is passionate about researching historical events, weapons systems and intelligence services. An avid lifelong traveler, he enjoys visiting places of historical and military significance. His career had taken him to many countries worldwide where he has gained a deep interest in regional politics, culture and food. He is an amateur pilot and an aviation enthusiast.

Paul lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with his wife Rosie and their Himalayan cat, Frankie. They have a daughter, Robin, a son-in-law, Brock and a granddaughter, Aster Rose.

Blackwater is the first novel in a series of Dalton Drake spy thrillers.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

At the outset, I admittedly knew very little about the publishing industry, the Chicago Manual of Style or what it was going to take to bring my story to life. With the help of patient coaches, promotional professionals, casting directors and editors I started along a steep, but fun learning curve. The greatest challenge was not in the crafting of the words or the storylines, it was primarily about formatting, structure and dialogue punctuation. In the kind of writing that I did during my professional career I rarely used these rules and either forgot or had never learned them in the first place. Also new was exploring social media, teaser trailer production and audio auditions.

Writing my second book has been far less time consuming and has allowed more time to focus on the creative aspects. The overall process is far less daunting and I’m confident in facing and providing guidance in all the publishing process steps. You never stop learning, though!

What sort of a relationship exists between you and the characters you created in this book?

That’s a great question. The characters that I created are based on the kinds of people that I enjoy or like to spend time with. In the case of the antagonists, they are the kind of people whom I loathe or fear the most. In developing these characters they gradually take on somewhat of a life of their own. While I consciously determine the final destination where the book is heading, the characters themselves usually tell me what route we will take to get there. I become their special conduit to the manuscript for actions that often come as a surprise, even to me. When I explain this to some people, I get some very strange looks. Others, especially writers, understand completely.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

In the genre and for the type of story that I write, establishing an accurate historical setting and precise details of locations, distances and timeline are crucial to me. This allows the story to be entirely believable while being principally fictional. Before I begin writing and later as the manuscript progresses, it requires continual research from numerous sources. I easily spend as much time researching as I do writing.

During my formal university education, particularly with history, I developed useful research habits and methods for writing papers. Now writing novels, I dusted off the old methodology and adapted for the digital world. It has been quite effective in assuring accuracy and realism.

How do you come up with names for your characters?

I generally use two approaches in naming characters. Most names come to me in the middle of the night, as does most of the ideas and inspirations for the book’s storyline and plot. First, I consider only the given names of people that I enjoy or that I would like to include, if their name passes the second test.

J.K. Rowling is brilliant with the use of onomatopoeia as a device to create names for her various colorful characters. Simply applied, the sound of the name suggests the character’s role, disposition or personality. Even if the suggestion is not as obvious as with some of Rowling’s characters, I like using names that just “feel” right for the kinds of people they are or roles they have.

One important point; I have never used a name of a living or a deceased person in any attempt to portray them as a fictional character.

Is writer’s block real?

Absolutely. The first time that I experienced it I simply tried to power through, but that just led to frustration with the loss of rhythm and flow. I was never happy with the quality of the forced work and usually ended up rewriting that passage. Subsequently, I’d just take a couple of days off and do something else. Eventually, creativity and the literary juices returned. I’ve changed strategies for writer’s block in the second book, however. Now I just set that section or chapter of the book aside and take on another segment, usually one that I enjoy writing about the most. That’s often enough to regain momentum and makes it easier to pick up the stalled section again.

Where do your ideas for this story come from?

Many of the episodes in Blackwater have been ideas that I have had for years, intending to someday weave together into a novel when retired and had the time. They may have come from visiting some part of the world or having a particular interest in a historical event or a military conflict. These vignettes formed the skeleton of the story. The finer details, twists, characters and linkages emerged as I wrote the manuscript. The key creative time for me, by far, is in the middle of the night. The most productive time is when I am somewhere between a conscious and a sub-conscious state where my thinking is less constrained by convention and far more vivid. That is when the book really comes alive. A big challenge is to remember the details when I wake up the following morning!

What’s next for you?

In the immediate term, the plan is for a series of five or six of Dalton Drake novels and to see how much trouble I can get him and his team into. I definitely have enough material for that many books and have thoroughly enjoyed the journey so far. I am not obsessive about writing though, and I intend to devote ample time to family, grandchildren, traveling and other community and fun pursuits. Of course, life has a habit of getting in the way of many plans, so now feeling happily independent, I am content not to take myself too seriously and to take each year as they come.

Thanks for you time, Mr. Jacuzzi. Best of luck with the series!

Thank you very much. This has been fun.


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