An interview with author Paul G. Wright

Paul G. Wright
Paul G. Wright

Paul G. Wright is a native of Atlanta. He has worked as a newspaper journalist, freelance writer, and screenwriter. He studied acting at the Warehouse Actors Theater and earned his degree in filmmaking from Columbia College Hollywood, in Tarzana, CA. ‘A College Story’ is his first novel and is loosely based on his undergraduate experiences at a small North Georgia school. He continues to live in the Atlanta area with his wife, Tara, and their cat Dusty.

A College Story
  • Where are you from? Atlanta, GA.
  • Why do you write? I developed an interest in writing in grade school. My father worked as a newspaper reporter and I seem to have inherited his love of language.
  • What do you write about? I generally write about my own experiences and the people I know, but not always. Ideas come from many places and if it is a good one, I will explore it. 
  • Do you have a specific writing style? I think my style is influenced by journalism. I worked for a short time as a reporter myself and the desire to say what needs to be said, using the fewest words possible, is still there.
  • What are obstacles that come in the way of writing? Fleshing out the story. Having an idea for a story is the easy part. Working out who the characters are, what happens to them, what the story is actually about is the where the real work begins. I am writing a new book and am fast approaching what many authors call, ‘the muddy middle’. What happens between the beginning and the end.
  • What is the most memorable thing asked/said by a reader about your work? I received a very nice review on Amazon by a current college student about my first book. The novel is based on my own undergraduate days and takes place in the late 1980s. In her review, she mentioned that she loved the book and that the journey of the protagonist mirrored much of her own experiences as a student. This was very rewarding because it validated something I’d believed while writing the book. That young people would still be able to relate to the story.
  • How long have you been writing? For at least twenty years.
  •  When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer? I read Judy Blume’s work when I was in grade school and something about her books connected with me. I remember thinking, ‘I think I can do this, too.’
  • What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I try to write between 5 and ten pages a day, as early as I can.
  • What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I have music that goes with each story. A song, or songs, that I listen to before each writing session which helps me get into the story. Sometimes, it will take me a while to figure out what that song is. What that story ‘sounds like’.
  • How long does it take to write a book? (if you’ve written one -published or non) I wrote my first novel in just under three months. This is not typical for most writers and isn’t typical for me. The country was in the middle of the lockdown and I found myself with a great deal of spare time on my hands. Most books take longer to compose and successfully edit. The authors I follow often say that six months is not unusual to go from idea to finished manuscript. That being said, every story and every writer is different.
  • Do you have suggestions on how to become a better writer? Read and write. I know that sounds simplistic, but it is true. Any coach will tell you that the best way to become a better athlete is to practice and every discipline is the same. The more you do it, the better you become and the more your confidence in your own abilities will grow. Read what others have written, take what you can learn from their work and create your own.
  • What challenges do you come across when writing/creating your story? Often, finding the right name for a character can be difficult. The name has to convey the personality in some way, and it can be hard to hit on just the right one. There is a wonderful scene in the film ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’, which depicts the struggle writers go through in this process. In the movie, Charles Dickens is composing ‘A Christmas Carol’ and is trying to find a name for his lead character. He finally utters the name ‘Scrooge’ and Mr. Scrooge literally appears in front of him and begins talking. Very often, that is how it feels when you find the right name. The character begins talking to you.
  • What do you think makes a good story? A story needs to be relatable and needs to say something worthwhile. We watch movies, TV and read books to be entertained but also to learn. To connect with other people and see how they handle things. An instructor I had once said that all good stories are built on a ‘truism’. Something that is timeless and true for every generation. I think working out what that is for your story, what it is that your story is trying to ‘say’, is a good place to start. That will be your foundation.
  • What does your family think of your writing? As I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, my family isn’t surprised. I’m lucky to have a wonderful, supportive wife who, realizes her husband has this odd need to pull words out of the air and type them on his computer several hours a day.
  • Do you see writing as a career? Writing is always going to be my ‘career’, despite what I do to make money. It is what I was built to do and makes me happy. So yes, in that sense, I do see it as a career. Whether I will ever be as financially successful at it as someone like Dan Brown remains to be seen.
  • Do you have anything specific you’d like to tell the readers? I hope you enjoy my book and all books you read and for those of you who are aspiring to write your own books, you can. Don’t let anyone tell you it impossible because it isn’t. It simply takes time, effort and discipline.
  • When did you first consider yourself a writer? I first considered myself a writer when I wrote my first short story in grade school. The words on the pages in front of me were mine. I’d put them there.