Kindle Author Interview: Paul A. Myers

Paul A. Myers, author of Paris 1935: Destiny's Crossroads, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Paris 1935: Destiny's Crossroads?

PAUL A. MYERS: This is the story of two professionals, a widowed French civil servant and a divorced American diplomat, in their late thirties. Their lives intersect and they fall into a courtship during 1935-36. Both characters play important roles during the pivotal events of the Ethiopian crisis at the League of Nations and the Nazi remilitarization of the German Rhineland. These two events set Europe on the path to war. The characters are both mid-level professionals coming into their own and poised for future responsibilities in the approaching war they sense coming. They are just the right age to rise to positions of influence. Both are also lots of fun while being deeply serious.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

PAUL A. MYERS: There is always a romance between a male and female character with the woman typically being the more dynamic and interesting personality. The characters come from different backgrounds and cultures. The two characters are on separate historical paths that converge as they navigate the historical events of the period. They are strongly admirable personalities. Different types of women and men and different types of romantic experience are explored in each novel.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

PAUL A. MYERS: A person interested in politics and history who wants a “see it now” view of the historical narrative through the eyes of admirable and interesting characters. I believe my political history novels are somewhat unique since they are neither espionage stories nor suspense mysteries. There is an almost day-by-day unfolding of the historical drama taken from the news stories of the day.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

PAUL A. MYERS: High school and college journalism with a return to writing history as a sideline in middle age. I rose to chief financial officer of a public company in the Silicon Valley of the 1970s and 80s and then pursued independent practice as a CPA since 1990. Interested in sailing, I started part-time on a history of the voyages of discovery of California that was published in 2004. That led to historical fiction as an experiment to “see if I could do it.” Also the opportunity to be funny more often. I really like Barbara Tuchman’s phrase “the distant mirror” as a metaphor for the power of historical fiction to use the past to illuminate the present.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

PAUL A. MYERS: I am working my way through the 1930s year-by-year with a focus on Paris and France, but with side trips to Vienna and other European capitals to capture the breadth of the times. I download hundreds of news articles from newspaper archives on what went on in Vienna and Paris and other capitals day-by-day during the year I am writing about. And I make a lot of use of memoirs from the era. They are full of scenes that are easily fictionalized while providing an aura of authenticity.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

PAUL A. MYERS: Diane Johnson: culture clash between the French and Americans with a wry look at passing political events.  Alan Furst: master of putting you into the period and looking at events from new angles. David Fromkin: fascinating combinations of personality and history in The Time of the Americans and A Peace to End All Peace.  Liaquat Ahamed: personality and economics in an interesting package with Lords of Finance, hard-to-do with the dismal science. Margaret MacMillan: Paris 1919: Six Months That changed the World tells the story of the Versailles Peace Treaty, the great engine of tragedy and unintended consequences in the Twentieth Century.         

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

PAUL A. MYERS: Night Soldiers by Alan Furst. That book opened up to me the possibilities of seeing the World War II era from other perspectives and looking at how the historical forces in the 1930s led to the greatest conflagration in world history. Looking at the 1930s and 40s from the perspective of a Soviet secret police agent is about as faraway from “American-centric” as you can get. And getting to somewhere new is the job of the novelist.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

PAUL A. MYERS: CreateSpace on Amazon for print, Kindle, and Smashwords. Some print advertising, some Internet, some social media. Traditional publishers still have the Big Megaphone of book reviews in leading publications and public relations firms that know how to create “buzz.” They also have very good product, which overcomes their marketing limitations! Good writing works! The Internet is slushy and mushy, but I think making this work is key for indie authors. Lot’s of small steps. For me, I think the next step is going to be appearances at book festivals and author talks. People are interested in talking with other people.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

PAUL A. MYERS: Wide distribution and ease of use for the reader. Click and download. The Kindle market is segmenting into a low-price indie segment of less than $5.00 per copy and what I think is an overpriced traditional publisher’s market of $8.00 to $15.00. Indie authors who develop a readership and have a series of books will gain ground on traditional publishers. Consumer price resistance is going to grow and grow against traditional publishers in the ebook market. I expect Amazon to start offering things like “Buy the entire collected works of Author A for $19.99” and “Gift Basket of Any 5 Books for $9.99.” Low prices will lead to much larger volumes. Indie authors will jump on these innovations while New York hits the fourth martini at lunch trying to figure out what is going on! At the end of the day, I think series authors will do OK.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

PAUL A. MYERS: Use the Smashwords style guide and publish on Smashwords first. The style guide shows you how to use Word to prepare manuscripts. It is easy to correct manuscripts of published works on Smashwords. Then go to Kindle and finish with print.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Paul A. Myers lives in Claremont, California and is the author of the historical novels Paris 1935: Destiny’s Crossroads, Paris 1934: Victory in Retreat, and Vienna 1934: Betrayal at the Ballplatz and the maritime history North to California: The Spanish Voyages of Discovery 1533-1603. He is a self-employed CPA.

Visit his website.

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