Monday, August 8, 2011

Interview with Paul McDonnold

It is an honour to be interviewing Paul McDonnold, the author of 'Economics of Ego Surplus' (reviewed here), one of a very few books that impressed me in recent past. You can read more information about the author here. But one of his statements which I must reproduce here is - "In an age of sound bites, tweets, partisan rants and uninspiring vanilla content, quality writing is not dead. It simply stands out more". I cannot agree more on this. There has been a deluge in the number of books which are being published and are available through multitude of reading tools but there is no denying the fact that the quality writing earns its own respect and recognition competition or no competition.

Sharing his views with all the readers...

1) How did the idea of 'The Economics of Ego Surplus' occur and the thought of combining education with a thriller?

Several years ago, I was teaching an economics course and wrote a homework assignment about a fictional attack on the U.S. economy that the students had to figure out how to stop. The students really liked it, so I started thinking about more ways to combine entertainment with teaching and it grew from there.

2) Do you think these kind of threats are really possible or a country's economy is so big and strong that such attempts are too trivial to bring it down?

I think its possible, but a bigger danger than a terrorist economic attack might be one that comes from another nation, or maybe from computer hackers. There are a lot of possibilities that I hope governments are thinking about and guarding against. If a successful economic or financial attack happened on top of an already weakened economy, like what the U.S. has now, the result could be really bad.

3) What all research did you do before writing this book?

Getting the economics material nailed down was important, of course. I also did some research on the settings in the novel. I have been to all of the places except Dubai. I would have loved to go there but it was a little more time and money than I could budget for. Fortunately I was able to do detailed research on Dubai through books and the Internet. So I sort of visited there in spirit!

4) I understand that you take writing workshops, what are the writing fundamentals that you teach through these workshops?

I am still in the process of creating the workshops. My plan is for it to focus on business writing. I would go to a business and do a four-hour class to improve the employees writing skills to help them do their job better. So it will focus mostly on business concerns like writing persuasively and concisely.

5) Which new project are you working on now and will it be in the financial/economic sector like the previous one?

I have a new novel in mind, but it is just in the very early stages of thought. I can say Kyle Linwood will be the protagonist again. It will probably have a little economics, but not as much as the current novel.

6) Which new genres of writing do you want to explore and which would be the first one in the list?

I like combining fiction with non-fiction, and especially combining entertaining, genre-type fiction with educational elements. So I expect to keep going in that direction in the future.

7) Which category of books do you like to read? Who is your favourite author?

I read both non-fiction and fiction from pretty much all different genres. My favorite authors are probably from the classics of American literature, like F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the last couple of years I have gotten really interested in Flannery OConnor, a female Southern (U.S.) writer, who I somehow missed out on in school.

8) Could you please suggest some basic guidelines for the budding authors and how they can improve their writing styles?

One thing that has been important for me, which I never saw in any books, is teaching your mind to slow down. Take time to consider how each word, each sentence is fitting together. Take time to think about or research details when you need to. I think the modern world has gotten so fast that peoples minds are moving at a rate where they miss out on a lot. A writer needs to overcome that and start picking up on the details!

9) Some people have natural flare for writing, so in your opinion how much of this skill is acquired and how much is it a derivative of the basic nature of an individual?

Thats a tough one! Whats amazing to me is how much work it takes to learn how to write a book that reads well. I dont think you necessarily have to be a genius or some freakishly talented person. But you do have to have a passion for words and be willing to work and be alone with your thoughts for long periods. There are probably only certain types of people willing to do that.

10) Your final comments, views, suggestions or any addition you like to make to this interview.

Just that I appreciate the chance to connect with your readers, and hope they enjoy the book and tell their friends.

Thanks Paul!

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