FEATURED AUTHOR: Paul Hollis - Drawing Readers Into Each Scene

Today's Featured Author is an award-winning writer of Spy Thrillers, Paul Hollis. 
Paul has a dual BA in English literature and psychology from the University of Illinois. In addition to having worked for IBM and others in worldwide physical and video security, he is an active member of International Thriller Writers and the St. Louis Writers Guild, as well as an international conference speaker.

Tell us something about you. Who is Paul Hollis? 

I was born in a small town east of Birmingham. My family moved to Chicago when I was five and I came of age in California. I entered university at the end of 1967 and fell into a blossoming subculture that reshaped my reality, figuratively and perhaps a little too literally. 

I worked for IBM where I had worldwide responsibility for several emerging business opportunities for the company, one being intelligent video surveillance. After 9/11, as you can imagine, security and safety became of paramount important to corporations, police departments, governments, casinos, banks, retailers, and a host of others. As a result, I was almost constantly on my way to somewhere else. 

I’ve lived in some exotic places such as London, Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Anchorage, and more. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in all fifty states and almost as many countries. If you’re thinking of your dream vacation spot right now, I have probably been there.

And who's the writer? How was The Hollow Man conceived?

These travel experiences have allowed me to interact with people within their own cultures, experience their spiritual and political environments, and understand their hopes and dreams. Consumed with an overwhelming fascination to learn something from every person encountered along my journey, I was able to understand the world through their eyes; its animosities, ambitions, and motivations. As a result, The Hollow Man has a ring of realism that pulls the reader into the scene with the characters, whether it’s entering a dark alley in Madrid or sitting in a cafĂ© on the Champs Elysees.

The inspiration for my storylines comes from a series of true incidents that occurred during the early 1970’s. The Hollow Man traces some of my lesser known experiences traveling in Europe as a young man. To make a long story short, I met a guy in early 1973 who thought I was wasting my time digging latrines in East Africa. He had a better offer for me.

At the time, terrorism was on the rise and I was assigned to learn as much as I could about it. Most early acts of terror were specific, personal and damage was focused on a distinct, definable enemy. But terrorism was beginning to change its strategy to the familiar, senseless chaos we recognize today. The death of political figures no longer seemed to bother us as much as these new, random attacks against our children. Targets of innocence became preferable to these people because it was the kind of shock and hurt that hit closer to our hearts. The fear inside us grew larger with each incident.

Why did you choose the thriller / espionage genre? 

Since my writing is based on true events, I’d have to say the genre chose me. 

Espionage, like it or not, is everywhere and every day. It’s been part of our nature to spy on others since man began living in communities. I’m not talking about the petty drama in your office or what one inconsiderate relative says of another. I’m talking about the kind of espionage that changes human existence with worldwide consequences.  Though we don’t want it to visit our homes, we’re curious about it. We poke it, we want to know the what, the how, but mostly the why. And it’s just a little more real if the author adds a few bloody, violent or gory scenes, and especially if the undercover work actually happened at one time or another.

Having said that, I write what I know. I was a hollow man for three years; a tourist living on the fringe of what we thought was a sane world. It was either write about this, or write an extremely boring book on the benefits of one computer language over another.

Is there a book or author that inspired you to be a writer?

As a young boy I was fascinated by the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Kidnapped. I dreamed of the open sea, with the wind in my hair and salt spray on my face. It was the definition of freedom. My love affair with travel began with this book and has lasted a lifetime. Being my first memorable book, Kidnapped also opened a world of imagination and learning for me. I earned a degree in English Literature, where I took full advantage of the best in novels, poetry, and drama. 

As an adult, To Kill a Mockingbird has stayed with me the longest and most affects my writing today. Harper Lee has a talent for narration, visual with a cinematic flare that effortlessly blends scenes without bumps. And it would be difficult to find two better characterizations in modern literature than Atticus and Scout.

What can readers expect when they read The Hollow Man?               

Rather than me telling you what to expect, let me put you in the capable hands of just a few reviewers of The Hollow Man. 

"Draws you right in with imagery and intrigue of a strange dream, very well plotted, left me feeling I was comfortably in the hands of someone who could take me along on a great ride." ~ James Kahn, Author of Goonies and Star Wars VI

“THE HOLLOW MAN belongs on the big screen. I’m hoping Hollis ships this novel to either Indie filmmakers or perhaps to the titans in Hollywood. I predict that if this is adapted for film, it will be a mega hit.” ~ E.L. Phoenix, AIA Reviewer

“It isn’t often that an action-packed, thrill ride of a spy book will also pack a wallop of humor AND explore the deep recesses of the human soul. Paul Hollis manages to pull off the nearly impossible in The Hollow Man: to present a story that keeps you turning the pages with an intriguing, action-oriented plot that also has unexpected moments of great humor and great pathos.” ~ Isobel DuSharm, Amazon Reviewer

“The writing is nothing less than superb and Hollis describes his scenes with stunning creativity.” ~ RAV, Amazon Reviewer

“I really enjoyed it and think it’s a great read for those who enjoy international intrigue, spys, and suspense with a little humor to ease the tension now and then. Set in 1974, with terrorism as it’s backdrop, this is a story that will keep you on your toes." ~ Ryder Islington, author of Ultimate Justice, a Trey Fontaine Mystery

Where can they buy a copy? 

And so many other places

Are you releasing a new book anytime soon? 

My work in progress is called Surviving Prague, the third installment of the series. A British MI6 agent and an American field analyst are running for their lives after being implicated in the murder of a high ranking government official. Trapped in a Communist country with no way out, the two are forced to find the killer to save their own lives. But the treacherous trail leading through the dark underworld of terrorism takes them right to the center of a plot to dominate Western Europe.
Surviving Prague is due to be released by the end of 2017.

That's certainly something we'll all look out for, Paul. 
What do you love about being an author? 

I love writing dialogue. This is where characters come to life. We can describe their idiosyncrasies, characteristics, and appearance. We can give them thoughts and feelings. We can thrust them into circumstances to watch them react and squirm. But what comes out of their mouths immediately adds a third dimension to their presence and the character jumps off the page with realism.

What is your message to readers? 

There is no message in my writing. I want people to be entertained; to participate in a memorable story with real characters that last longer than the end of the book.

My writing style is very visual. It’s important for me to completely immerse the reader, drawing him/her totally into each scene. I want the reader to see what’s going on around them, feel the excitement, and hear the voices. When readers say The Hollow Man should be on the big screen, I feel like I’ve made it completely real.

Tell us where we can find you.

Right now, you can find me developing a series of online, interactive clinics on how to write a novel. The first, Getting Started, deals with the every detail one needs to begin writing a novel.  It will be broadcast on September 27.   http://ow.ly/iTcL30eUxJi  Stop by and sign up!

Many people have recently asked me what’s my formula for writing bestsellers?  So, for those of you dreaming of writing your own bestseller, I’ve developed a series of interactive clinics that will take you on an in-depth journey through the process of writing a breakout novel. I will work through every aspect of writing a bestselling novel with each writer. Unlike many seminars, I’m not going to skim across the top and tell you nonsense like, step one is to write an outstanding novel then tell you to find an eager agent tucked away in your pocket somewhere, and your work is done. These interactive sessions are full of instructions, information, and tips designed to take your writing to the next level. Because they’re interactive you’ll be able to ask relevant questions where they are applicable.  

Thank you for sharing your time with us!

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