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Read an Excerpt from the Book
An excerpt from The Book of Paul by Richard Long:
You tell your children not to be afraid. You tell them everything will be all right. You tell them Mommy and Daddy will always be there. You tell them lies.
Paul looked out the filthy window and watched the little girl playing in the filthier street below. Hopscotch. He didn’t think kids played hopscotch anymore. Not in this neighborhood. Hip-hopscotch, maybe.
“Hhmph! What do you think about that?”
Paul watched the little black girl toss her pebble or cigarette butt or whatever it was to square number five, then expertly hop, hop, hop her way safely to the square and back. She was dressed in a clean, fresh, red-gingham dress with matching red bows in her neatly braided pigtails. She looked so fresh and clean and happy that he wondered what she was doing on this shithole street.
The girl was playing all by herself. Hop, hop, hop. Hop, hop, hop. She was completely absorbed in her hopping and scotching and Paul was equally absorbed watching every skip and shuffle. No one walked by and only a single taxi ruffled the otherworldly calm.
Paul leaned closer, his keen ears straining to pick up the faint sound of her shiny leather shoes scraping against the grimy concrete. He focused even more intently and heard the even fainter lilt of her soft voice. Was she singing? He pressed his ear against the glass and listened. Sure enough, she was singing. Paul smiled and closed his eyes and let the sound pour into his ear like a rich, fragrant wine.
“One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, shut the door…”
He listened with his eyes closed. Her soft sweet voice rose higher and higher until…the singing suddenly stopped. Paul’s eyes snapped open. The girl was gone. He craned his neck quickly to the left and saw her being pulled roughly down the street. The puller was a large, light-skinned black man, tugging on her hand/arm every two seconds like he was dragging a dog by its leash. At first, he guessed that the man was her father, a commodity as rare in this part of town as a fresh-scrubbed girl playing hopscotch. Then he wondered if he wasn’t her father after all. Maybe he was one of those kinds of men, one of those monsters that would take a sweet, pure thing to a dark, dirty place and…
And do whatever a monster like that wanted to do.
Paul pressed his face against the glass and caught a last fleeting glance of the big brown man and the tiny red-checkered girl. He watched the way he yanked on her arm, how he shook his finger, how he stooped down to slap her face and finally concluded that he was indeed her one and only Daddy dear. Who else would dare to act that way in public?
“Kids!” Paul huffed. “The kids these days!”
He laughed loud enough to rattle the windows. Then his face hardened by degrees as he pictured the yanking daddy and the formerly happy girl. Hmmm, maybe he was one of those prowling monsters after all. Paul shuddered at the thought of what a man like that would do. He imagined the scene unfolding step by step, grunting as the vision became more and more precise. “Hhmph!” he snorted after a particularly gruesome imagining. “What kind of a bug could get inside your brain and make you do a thing like that?”
“Monsters! Monsters!” he shouted, rambling back into the wasteland of his labyrinthine apartments, twisting and turning through the maze of lightless hallways as if being led by a seeing-eye dog. He walked and turned and walked some more, comforted as always by the darkness. Finally, he came to a halt and pushed hard against a wall.
His hidden sanctuary opened like Ali Baba’s cave, glowing with the treasures it contained. He stepped inside and saw the figure resting (well, not exactly resting) between the flickering candles. At the sound of his footsteps, the body on the altar twitched frantically. Paul moved closer, rubbing a smooth fingertip across the wet, trembling skin and raised it to his lips. It tasted like fear. He gazed down at the man, his eyes moving slowly from his ashen face to the rusty nails holding him so firmly in place. The warm, dark blood shining on the wooden altar made him think about the red-gingham bunny again.
“Monsters,” he said, more softly this time, wishing he weren’t so busy. As much as he would enjoy it, there simply wasn’t enough time to clean up this mess, prepare for his guests and track her down. Well, not her, precisely. Her angry tugging dad. Not that Paul had any trouble killing little girls, you understand. It just wasn’t his thing. Given a choice, he would much rather kill her father. And make her watch.
Read an Interview with the Author
1. Tell us about the spark of inspiration that eventually grew into The Book of Paul.
The initial inspiration for The Book of Paul came when I wrote the first line of the first chapter called Exercises: “He practiced smiling.” I wanted to explore a character who had been so damaged by childhood trauma that he could no longer feel compassion, joy, affection, and had, accordingly, committed all kinds of horrible acts. I wondered if such a person could ever regain his emotional capacity and be redeemed by love.
2. What was the research process like for this book (which can at times deal with some pretty heady and—frankly—grotesque goings-on)? Any horror stories to share?
There are many aspects to the story, so the research was really extensive. I love doing the research almost as much as the writing, so it’s a joy for me to read and learn so many new things. The creation mythology literally goes back to square one and builds from there, tracing the history of Hermetic and Gnostic philosophy, alchemy, druidism and pagan mythology–particularly Egyptian, Greek and Celtic traditions. There’s also a strong science fiction element involving quantum physics, artificial intelligence, life extension and what’s known as The Singularity. Other lines of exploration involved Irish genealogy and what I call the pain culture: tattoos, elaborate piercings and body modifications.
I made some gruesome discoveries along the way. The most disturbing was the Extreme Body Modification website I stumbled upon, which is one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen. I first saw it in the early days of the Internet, which is pretty amazing in itself. I checked recently and it’s still there, though I didn’t have the stomach to peek inside again. I’m actually as squeamish as some of my readers about certain things, which is probably why the horror comes across so vividly. If something scares the hell out of me, it’s easy for me to convey that fear and revulsion.
3. Tell us about Paul. Who is he and what is his book about?
The Book is a 4th century codex, the only one of it’s kind. How and why it was made and what it contains is one of the central mysteries of the series, so I’m not going to spill those beans. Paul is every bit as mysterious. When he is first introduced you might think he’s a serial killer involved with the occult in some way. As the story progresses you discover some really unexpected things about him. One thing is clear from the outset – he is one very nasty piece of work. I’ve always felt that any horror novel or thriller is only as good as the villain. I definitely aimed for the fences with Paul.
4. There is a strong tarot undercurrent to this novel. The protagonist even makes his living by reading the cards. Why did you decide to work it into The Book of Paul, and how does it surface throughout the course of the story?
I actually did tarot and numerology readings when I lived in the East Village many years ago. The tarot led me to a lot of dark occult explorations, which are mirrored in William’s journey. I was lucky enough to pull out of that nosedive and hop over to the Buddhist side of the fence. William is not so fortunate. The reader gets drawn into William’s world through his first person narration as he talks about becoming a collector of ancient occult manuscripts, which leads him to the tarot. Then he gradually reveals more through his journal entries, which contain the meat of the mythology and all the Hermetic and Gnostic lore. Finally, he discovers that the tarot is actually related to an apocalyptic prophecy, which Paul is determined to fulfill by any means necessary, which is very bad news for Billy.
5. At almost 500 pages, this is not a short novel. From start to finish, how long did it take you to write, revise, and ready for publication?
I’ve written over 2,000 pages for The Book of Paul and the series. The first draft of this volume was close to a thousand pages long. I cut out eight characters and their storylines in the second draft, which netted my first agent. She wanted a lower page count, so many of the narrator’s interior musings were cut. Those were actually some of my favorite sections. Then I moved to another agent and he wanted more of the mythology put back in, so it grew close to this size. After six months he hadn’t sold it, so I got sick of the whole process, wrote it the way I wanted, and published it.
6. The concept of synchronicity plays heavily in this novel. What attracts you to it, and has it proven a heavy influence in your own life?
I’ve always been a spiritual seeker. I was raised as a Catholic, but the nuns effectively beat those beliefs out of me quickly. Even as a kid, I couldn’t accept the idea of God as the big guy in the sky with the white beard. Science and mythology and my own imagination showed me all kind of possibilities. I first noticed synchronicity when the number eleven kept showing up for me all over the place–addresses, hotel rooms, etc. Someone suggested I get a book on numerology and I discovered that eleven was my “name number” and also a power number. I started noticing all kinds of things after that, coincidences that were just too weird to brush away. Then I read some Jung, and when I got into quantum physics that sealed the deal. Synchronicity for me now is the manifestation of interconnectedness in the universe. There is nothing you can perceive that isn’t connected to you. As the Buddhists say, “no separate self.”
7. Paul is… scary (we’ll leave it at that). How were you able to effectively become this deranged character, and how did you hang on to your own humanity after the fact?
I would imagine it’s much the same as when Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter. He was very disdainful of method actors who got all caught up in identifying with their characters. There’s a famous story about Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman on the set of Marathon Man. Hoffman was a method actor and he stayed up all night before their torture scene together and Olivier said something like, “Why don’t you try acting, dear boy?”
That being said, I’m not immune to being disturbed by these things. When I wrote the traumatic scenes of him and Martin–well, I cried when I wrote them and they stayed with me for days. So maybe the method is working for me too.
Paul is great to write because it’s like letting my Id out of a cage. I get to play out my most evil imaginings and nobody gets hurt. I also had to find Paul’s humanity to make him really interesting for me. I didn’t want him to be some cartoon monster. Paul is also in a lot of pain; he was traumatized as a boy and his life was changed forever. By the end of the story you get to see many other sides of him. And of course, there’s a lot more to come.
8. Irish mythology is woven into The Book of Paul, and at one point, Paul even makes a sarcastic quip about the luck of the Irish. Why Irish, and how all does its culture influence the story?
When I’m writing, I go into a daydream state where I imagine the character and what he or she looks like and where they are and what they’re doing. No outline usually. I sit back and watch and listen. If it’s great the way I imagine it, then writing the dialog is like taking dictation. When I wrote the first chapters with Paul, I was surprised because I kept hearing him speak with an Irish brogue, but his accent went in and out – sometimes really thick, sometimes a little lilt, sometimes no accent at all. So I’m thinking, what’s that about?
I come from Irish American stock, but my parents told me absolutely nothing about their parents other than to say they were cruel. So that’s the starting point with Paul. He’s the ultimate bad dad. The more I explored Paul, the deeper it led me into Celtic mythology, Irish genealogy and history. I suppose I’m trying to find the missing links of my own heritage. My grandmother was born in Ireland, so I have dual citizenship, even though I haven’t been there yet. I’m thinking I’ll go next year when I’m writing the third sequel.
9. The Book of Paul is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and in that way, it can be difficult to classify. So tell us, who is your target audience for this novel?
Given the fact that there are some rough episodes in the story, you might think that the so-called target audience would be men who are into horror, thrills and mayhem. But women actually seem to be my biggest, or at least, my most vocal fans. I’ve been getting some really enthusiastic reviews from men, but even more so from women, who surprisingly seem less squeamish than some of the male reviewers.
The Book of Paul doesn’t fit into any neat, tidy genre. It’s very complex and like you say, unlike anything I’ve read before either. There’s a Pulp Fiction element to it, with quirky characters in a seedy environment. There’s a major religious/mythological mystery for the Dan Brown crowd. It’s very funny, but incredibly poignant. It’s very disturbing, but there are lots of fast-paced action scenes. There’s romance and kinky sex. Something for everybody.
10. Why did you decide to self-publish The Book of Paul, and how has the journey been so far?
Read above. The traditional publishing industry in general is like a boxer on the ropes in the tenth round. For fiction it’s even worse. Add first-time novelist to the list and sprinkle on an unclassifiable genre for a little seasoning. I had two agents who were well known and successful, and very enthusiastic about the book. But the editors they reached wouldn’t take a chance on it. I could have kept trying, but frankly, I ran out of patience.
How has it been so far? The book is out in the world and it’s just the way I wanted it. I have complete control over everything I do, including the cover art, which is also exactly how I want it. The marketing is a lot of hard work, particularly the social marketing, which I had never done before. But that’s turned out to be a lot of fun too. I’m meeting so many great people–other authors and readers–and getting such a strong response on the book that it feels like a vindication. See? I told you so. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!
Read a Guest Post by the Author
A guest post by Richard Long
Laura gave me my first tarot deck. It was a Crowley. A lot of people get creeped out by Crowley decks, much as they would have been creeped out by Crowley, I imagine. He called himself ‘The Great Beast.’ To me, he seemed more like a big joke.
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law!”
Stop it, you’re killing me.
You just read the opening lines of The Bone King, a prequel to The Book of Paul. They happen to be true. Laura gave me my first deck. I still have it and use it. In fact, I’ll be using it shortly to provide Skype tarot readings for two lucky winners of my Whirlwind Blog Tour. I’m looking forward to the readings. The winners? I suppose that depends on which cards come up.
Actually, I don’t give scary tarot readings, I just write about scary tarot readings. People have enough fear and stress in their lives without me throwing more gas on the flames. Besides, the three scariest trump cards–The Hanged Man, Death and The Tower–can all be interpreted in very unscary ways. Most of the time.
William, the narrator of The Book of Paul, lives in the East Village/Alphabet City of New York in the years before gentrification made it a much less fun and frightening place. He makes a living doing tarot and numerology readings, same as the author did at the time. Like me, he is also a collector, but that’s where the similarities end. He collects ancient occult codices, some covered in human skin. He collects other things that are even more…disturbing.
The mythology of The Book of Paul is based largely on my very unique (so unique you’ll never see it anywhere else) interpretation of the twenty-two trump cards of the tarot. As William endeavors to unravel Paul’s nefarious intentions, he discovers an arrangement of the trumps that reveals the true story being told. In the following excerpt from one of William’s journal entries, Paul congratulates William on his discovery (which is not revealed, so no spoiler alert!) and rewards his efforts with a very special gift to add to his collection, and the promise of an even greater prize.
A fabulous tarot reading from Richard Long? A Kindle Fire?
No, William isn’t as lucky as three of you wonderful readers.
He’s about to have his very first look at The Book of Paul, a gift that comes with a very hefty price tag.
“You’ve done exceptionally well here,” Paul said, “but you’re never gonna get to the bottom of this no matter how many of those old books you poke your nose into.”
“And that’s because…”
“For starters, those writings were deliberately intended to disguise the truth in countless metaphors and scrambled codes to keep the idiots at bay. They’ve been translated, and re-translated back into the original demotic, Coptic or Greek countless times, every scribe adding his own pontifical touch in his glorious interpretation. Of the more accurate writings, there’s more missing from the tracts than what remains, as you’ve seen in the Drivel of Mary. You’ve about as much luck hitting pay dirt in those dustbins as those literalist born-agains have of seeing the Rapture. However, I have a gift for you that should prove far more enlightening, if you apply yourself with half the dedication of these research efforts.”
He reached deeply into his pocket and told me to close my eyes. “Don’t go using yer second sight and spoil the surprise.” I nodded and felt him place a large rectangular object in my left hand. “Okay, open ’em.”
It was a tarot deck. Older than any I’d seen. The paintings were incredibly detailed and absolutely exquisite. I turned them over one by one, The Hero, The Herald, The Oracle—all the trumps labeled with Paul’s titles. “These are amazing!” I said, awed and yes, flattered by his incredible gift. I had a hard time spitting it out, but I managed to say, “Thank you.”
“You’ve earned it,” he grunted, taking the cards back before I had a chance to look at the rest of them, setting the cards down gently on the table. “But don’t stay up too late gazing at them. This deck can be quite…entrancing.”
“Is there something else I should know about it?” I asked apprehensively.
“Indeed, there is. Get a good night’s sleep and meet me in the chapel tomorrow. I’m bumping you up to the advanced class, so make sure your eyes are bright and your head is clear. You’ve earned a little taste of the Gospel according to Paul.”
The Social Media Events – This is Where the Prizes are!
Blogaganza on Novel Publicity. We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We’ll ask Richard a few quirky questions and give him the opportunity to answer via video interview! Leave a comment or question in response to the post, and you may win an autographed copy of The Book of Paul. VISIT BLOGAGANZA HERE.
Twitterview. A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters, and we all know writers loooove to talk. Come join us for a live interview via Twitter as we ask Richard to sum up his book, writing habits, and personality in teensy tiny tweets. We’ll open to questions from the audience at the end of the interview. One question-asker will win an autographed copy of The Book of Paul! Join us on Twitter at 4 PM EST by searching #emlyn. READ THE TRANSCRIPT HERE.
Google+ Sharing Contest. Here’s an awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see The Book of Paul’s book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of The Book of Paul will also be up for grabs. GO HERE TO SHARE.
Facebook Sharing Contest. Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see The Book of Paul’s book cover included with it). On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of The Book of Paul will also be up for grabs. GO HERE TO SHARE.
Super Big Finale Contest. Time to get creative and compete for huge prizes! Grab your copy of The Book of Paul (either paperback or digital) and take a picture to enter in our themed photo contest. A Kindle Fire goes to the overall most creative entry, while the most Irish and best impression of a tarot card categories win a look into their future by a custom tarot reading performed by the author. One more tarot reading goes to a random mailing list subscriber on www.thebookofpaul.com. Check out the full contest rules and prizes by visiting the official contest page! Much fun is to be had, but it must be had by 12 noon EST on Sunday. So hurry, scurry, make magic happen!
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