Q & A with JP Paul - Part IV
What do you see as the market for Rattle? How would you classify it in terms of genre?
Good question to which I have no definitive answer. if you've read any of my shorter works or previous articles about contemporary art or Latin America and the Caribbean, you'll see I'm not big on tight classification. I'd say my writing is a fusion of general, contemporary and literary fiction with a stylistic vantage point culled from years as a feature reporter who thankfully was given a long leash to write about feelings as well as facts, delving into cause and actions rather than just the effects. It may appeal to everyone from blue and white collar to hipsters and tweed. This particular work features artists and bohemians, socialites, business people, technologists, social workers, restless world travelers and the poverty stricken. It's both plot and character driven and deals with numerous underlying tangents. Main characters range from their early twenties to their sixties so there's something for a wide range of age groups with which to connect. If you strip away the technology and contemporary references, I believe it depicts timeless struggles to make one's way even though it is rooted in a specific, recent period.
Those who enjoy being swept into unfamiliar international settings are exposed to the underbelly of a Caribbean culture that tourists rarely witness. At its core, Rattle is a family conflict that erupts due to a combination of internal communication problems and external forces. It's also a David versus Goliath saga arising from conflicting principles and financial implications rather than swords and stones. Opportunism, greed and survival at any costs are examples of ethical conundrums many of us face at one time or another in our lives.
The novel features plenty of sweat and tears both sad and joyful. Other body fluids are minimal. I suggest those looking for alien fantasies, steamy sex, shock or dead bodies can find better ways to spend their entertainment dollars. There's romance, but not in the typical form of misty-eyed dreamy disillusionment of the unattainable. There's suspense throughout the dual plot line. Tension is disturbing in that this story is ominously close to many of us and entirely plausible. I want people to think they could read this book and then walk outside to make something positive happen for themselves. As the title implies, people who rattle cages - intended or otherwise - will be particularly entertained. The subtitle, "When Even Wealth Misses the Itch" hints at one of the book's featured dichotomies. Outliers who feel they have no input can attach themselves to the voices of the main protagonists. I'ts both fun and serious, if that makes sense.
For me, reading boils down to three human needs: to learn, to be entertained and to be challenged. I try to offer all three for the reader. And don't forget, sometimes we learn as much by seeing what we shouldn't be doing rather than being told what we should. This is often an advantage of fiction.
Before Rattle, what have you published?
I'm hoping to redistribute "Crack/ed" as a novella. It was originally written around 2003. "Scenes from Below the Curb" was started before Rattle. It will be coming out soon after falling off the planet due to other commitments. Both have been substantially rewritten. "Only Indigo" and "Take the Dance" have been stewing for years and will be released most likely in a short story anthology. I'm hoping to have another novel, The Harbinger Effect, out in the near future. I'd like to release two of these works in 2018 and then we'll see from there. Due to early success of "Rattle," I may decide to release the hinted sequel first.
Most of my print journalism experience was at The Daily Journal of Caracas where I worked under editor Tony Bianchi as their western correspondent. I covered everything from the petroleum industry to arts & culture, sports, politics, hard news, education and themes of specific interest for the ex-pat English-speaking community.
Parallel to the DJ, I published dozens of investigative features for the Sunday Plus Weekly Edition with editor Sally Weeks. Works included the plight of small independent farmers, the extinction of remote tribes, tourism initiatives and plans to save South American freshwater lakes. I followed the medical team of Dr. Nancy Wexler in their search for DNA markers and a cure for Huntington's Disease. I scaled the Andes just weeks before the gondola I was riding in plummeted to the ground thousands of feet below. I plunged into contaminated waters to witness the devastation caused by underwater drilling and wrote an exposé on the abuse and corruption in Latin American youth soccer.
I've provided written work and editing services for websites related to visual arts, education and technology since the late 90s, published poems and have ghost-written numerous artist statements, portfolio reviews and marketing materials for visual artists since the 80s.
Your profile notes that you are an author of British, North & South American descent? Weren't you born in Canada?
Correct. Canada is part of North America. I was born to first-gen Canadian parents. All four of my grandparents were British. My mother's heritage has been traced all the way back to Myles Standish's ships that landed in Plymouth, USA. There's an English-US element as her family journeyed throughout the northeast before settling in what would become the province of Ontario. For most of my adult life, I've either lived in South America or was immersed in the Latin American culture through my wife's family even when we lived in the USA, England and Jamaica. Her parents treated me like a son at a time when I was searching for direction and a loving home. They accepted me for what I was. For most of my adult life, they were my strongest source of inspiration and knowledge. It's not a stretch to consider them parents.
November 2017: Questions were culled from conversations and correspondence with author JP Paul.