Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
I was born and raised in Bray, in the northernmost part of County Wicklow, in Ireland. I went to University College Dublin, where I studied English and ancient Greek and Roman civilisation in between hanging out with the Games Society. It’s where I met my wife and many of my closest friends.
I’d always been interested in magic and the supernatural. I was drawn to horror movies and folklore, but my favourite moments in any of those stories was when the hero finally mustered the strength to fight back. I wanted to see more stories where this could happen. As a teenager, I really had no idea there was a whole genre, Urban Fantasy, where this exact thing was commonplace. When I found out, I knew it was the genre for me.
What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?
I think it’s how close it is to the real world, and a certain innocence and faith it represents (the paranormal, that is, not vampires!). It saddens me that there’s so much cynicism in the world these days, where someone who happens to have a particular faith can be tarred with the same brush as religious fanatics. To me, the study of the paranormal means accepting the possibility that there’s more to the universe than we, humans, can understand right now, that perhaps there are things we’re not meant to understand, and that’s okay.
I’m afraid the reason I included vampires in the series is a little less philosophical. I’d just grown tired of seeing vampires reduced to love interests or excuses for super powers. I wanted to show them back in the role of monsters, representations of the side of ourselves we fear. Vampires used to be the lords of horror, the ultimate villain. One day, I’d like to see them reclaim that.
Please tell us about your latest release.
Happy to! Silent Oath is the second instalment of the Locked Within Trilogy. Following on from my debut release last year, the book sees Nathan Shepherd continuing his fight to protect the people of New York from the Council of Chains, who seek immortality and treat normal humans as prey.
Nathan has accepted that he can’t keep fighting alone, and, together with his friends, is working to establish a conclave, an organisation dedicated to keeping people safe from supernatural predators. However, all his work stands to fall apart when Athamar, an enemy from past lifetimes, arrives on the scene. Nathan finds himself in the middle of a deadly game where everything he holds dear is at stake.
Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
Given that much of the series deals with reincarnation, it was important to keep character names accurate. I read history articles and watched period movies to pick out potential names. At the same time, I do like adding a little bit of deeper meaning to character names, so once I find a name I like, I’ll look up its meaning to see how well it suits the character.
I try to avoid using lists of popular names because you can end up picking names that have been used a lot in other books already.
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
I think Elena DeSantis, Nathan’s lost lover, was pretty tough to write. I’m more used to writing male protagonists, and Elena’s importance puts her on more or less equal footing with Nathan, both in terms of her status within the setting and in terms of the story. I also had to make sure that the initial uncertainty between the two was strong, but without losing the reader’s sympathy.
With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?
I made sure to include summaries of previous events as important topics came up, so it is possible to read Silent Oath without having read Locked Within. I don’t think there should be too much confusion. That said, I would definitely recommend reading Locked Within first, otherwise a lot of the emotional impact of some of the new revelations in Silent Oath will be lost.
Do you write in different genres?
Yes. In addition to Urban Fantasy, I’m currently working on a YA Steampunk Fantasy and some of my ideas for the future venture into Science Fiction as well.
Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?
Urban Fantasy appeals to me because I find it natural to think in a mix of action and mystery, so that will bleed over when I write other genres. I focus on telling fun adventure stories, and worry about smaller details later. The hardest part is actually making the switch from one setting to another, keeping in mind that for some, like my Steampunk series, Lady Raven, I have to create an entire world from scratch, while for Silent Oath, I was using New York as a base, and had to make sure to keep certain elements consistent with the real world.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
I’m probably supposed to say that anyone who writes should consider themselves a writer. But the truth is, it was last year, at my first book launch. Seeing so many people all lining up to buy my book, many of whom started reading right there in the store, was a profound experience. It stopped being a dream and suddenly became real.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?
Nothing fancy. Video games, re-watching movies and shows I loved as a kid (The Princess Bride remains one of the greatest movies ever made! We used the theme music when my wife walked down the aisle at our wedding), or coming home from work and getting straight into a comfy bathrobe and having a glass of wine.
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
I love film and music. I’ll watch a movie or listen to a particular song no matter how many times I have before, all to experience it again and again. Music, particularly, is important to me, and I’ve been known to dislike a movie just because the score disappointed me.
I also love to cook. I find it incredibly relaxing to put together a meal from scratch.
Aside from that, I’m also an avid gamer, and have a group of friends who call out every week to play tabletop roleplaying games.
What can readers expect next from you?
Well the most important thing will be the third and final instalment of Nathan’s story. Currently titled Final Hope, the last book in the trilogy will see Nathan’s ultimate showdown with Athamar and the forces of the Styx, the gods who seek to conquer our world. It’s due out next year, and I can’t wait to start the edits.
Beyond that, as I mentioned I’m working on Lady Raven, the first of a YA Steampunk Fantasy series, which I’ll be self-publishing. I plan to have that out next year as well.
But I’ll still be publishing traditionally as well. I have a new Urban Fantasy series in mind for adults, which I’ll be submitting to my publisher for consideration. This one will be a bit of a cross between an Urban Fantasy and a police procedural.
Where can readers find you on the web?
My website is http://paulanthonyshortt.blogspot.com, and I can also be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pashortt, and on Twitter, @PAShortt
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Locked Within Trilogy
Locked Within Trilogy
Paul Anthony Shortt
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Date of Publication: October 8th, 2013
Number of pages: 300
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Steven Novak
Hope has returned to New York City. Nathan Shepherd leads a small band of dedicated fighters against the Council of Chains and the city's supernatural masters. But it's not enough. Because from the shadows of Nathan's former lives comes an old enemy, one who knows terrible secrets that Nathan has not yet remembered, secrets that could undo everything he has fought for.
Nathan's only chance to uncover the memories of his previous existence, and to conquer these new forces of evil, lies in Elena DeSantis. A woman he has fought beside in past lifetimes. A woman he has loved.
Together, Nathan and Elena are the only future the city has.
About the Author:
A child at heart who turned to writing and roleplaying games when there simply weren't enough action figures to play out the stories he wanted, Paul Anthony Shortt has been writing all his life. Growing up surrounded by music, film and theatre gave him a deep love of all forms of storytelling, each teaching him something new he could use. When not playing with the people in his head, he enjoys cooking and regular meet-ups with his gaming group.
Paul lives in Ireland with his wife Jen and their dogs, Pepper and Jasper. Their first child, Conor William Henry Shortt, was born on July 11th, 2011. He passed away three days later, but brought love and joy into their lives and those of their friends. The following year, Jen gave birth to twins, Amy and Erica.
Paul's first novel, Locked Within, was released on November 6th, 2012, by WiDo Publishing. Silent Oath is the second book in this urban fantasy trilogy.