An Interview with Author Paul Bishop
A thirty-five year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, Paul Bishop’s career included a three year tour with his department’s Anti-Terrorist Division and over twenty-five years’ experience in the investigation of sex crimes. Paul is the author of fifteen novels and has written numerous scripts for episodic television and feature films. A regular speaker at writing conferences, Paul has mentored a monthly writing group for the past six years. Wolfpack Publishing is excited to welcome Paul Bishop to the team!
Wolfpack: Did you always know you wanted to write?
Paul Bishop: I started reading at a very young age. The urge to tell my own stories began at almost the same time. The first story I remember writing was in elementary school. The teacher gave us the traditional assignment to use each of the week’s vocabulary words in a separate sentence. I took it a step further and tied all the sentences together to make a complete story.
WP: Do you think without your career you would have had any books in you to write?
PB: At my core, I’m a storyteller. No matter what I did in life, I would have used it as fodder for my fiction. However, my 35 year career with the LAPD gave me not only a lot to write about, but also opened up the world of human emotion in a unique and indelible way. As a writer this was a priceless gift.
WP: How did you get started mentoring a writing group? Can you tell us a little about what that is like?
PB: I was working with the young adult ward (single 18 to 30 year olds) of our church. There were several of them who were budding writers, and they asked if I would start a monthly writers’ group. We started with six writers and eventually grew to a dozen or more. When we began, the meetings would start with a short lesson on some aspect of writing. We would then work on round-robin storytelling or flash fiction assignments. As the group evolved, we kept the quick lesson in the beginning, but we would then turn to whatever work in progress each member had brought with them. The key was to have somebody else read your work aloud to the group. This way you could hear what you actually wrote and not what you thought you wrote. When you do this, any flaws become quickly apparent. We must have been doing something right as two members of the group have had their first novels published and several others are close.
WP: It sounds like you’ve had a very exciting career, would you consider writing non-fiction books about it?
PB: I now teach interrogation and criminal profiling to law enforcement agencies across the country. If I was to write any non-fiction it would be about those subjects. The problem is, writing non-fiction longer than a 600 to 1,500 word article, simply doesn’t appeal to me—I have too many stories and characters in my head waiting to jump onto the page.
WP: What type of books do you enjoy reading? What are you reading right now?
PB: Most things off the current bestseller lists don’t come close to grabbing my attention—especially the bloated doorstops currently passing themselves off as thrillers. I love the 150 to 200 page Gold Medal paperback originals from the ‘50s to the ‘70s. These were fast, lean, hard-hitting novels filled with muscular prose and true noir plots. I also have a strong affection for the kind of High Adventure genre writers you don’t find anymore—Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley, and Hammond Innes. I do have more ‘modern’ favorites, such as Dick Francis, Robert B. Parker, Joseph Wambaugh (of course), but I always dip back into the past.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been on a Western kick. Lewis B. Patten, Ray Hogan, Louis L’Amour, Frank O’Rourke, John Benteen, and the many others—including more recent practitioners, such as Peter Brandvold, Charles C. West, Dave Robbins, James Reasoner…the list goes on and on.
My deep affection for the western is the reason behind the recent series of compendiums I have co-written and edited, starting with 52 Weeks • 52 Western Novels.
52 Weeks • 52 Western Movies, 52 Weeks • 52 Western TV Shows, and 52 Weeks • 52 More Western Novels will be following in 2018.
WP: What other types of things do you enjoy doing in your free time?
PB: Too many miles and too many marathons put paid to my knees and my running career. However, the time I spent grinding out the miles has been replaced by the joys of travelling with my wife, teaching, and service through our church.
WP: Does anyone in your family read your books?
PB: My family, both immediate and extended is quite small. My wife is my first editor, and tough one. If I can get the logic of a story or a plot past her, I know I’m going in the right direction. My son and his wife read everything I write, but the grandkids are more than a little too young.
WP: You’ve written over 15 novels, what has been your biggest labor of love thus far?
PB: Lie Catchers, which is my latest novel, is particularly special. The real process of interrogation is nothing like you see on TV—not even in police reality shows like 48 Hours. Through teaching experienced detectives, I realized if they didn’t understand all the ins-and-outs of the art of interrogation, then it would also be a whole new world to my readers. Every writer wants to find something unique to make them stand out within their chosen genre. With Lie Catchers, I set out to write about two top interrogators and make the workings of the story as close to the real world of interrogation as I could within a fictional setting. Three Best Novel nominations from various industry groups, including one win, gave an indication I had done what I set out to do. The sequel, Admit Nothing, is coming soon.
WP: Who is your biggest motivator?
PB: I find my motivation through my admiration for all the hardworking writers who have gone before me. The pulp writers working for a quarter cent a word; the paperback original writers who were able to survive the transition from the pulps; the prolific men’s adventure paperback series writers of the ‘70s and ‘80s who kept a generation entertained despite the distractions of television, movies, and the coming of Nintendo.
I keep writing because of friends like James Reasoner, and Robert Randisi, who amaze me with their constant and prolific output. And there is the support of other close writer friends, Steve Mertz, Bill Crider, and other guys who came up alongside me and are still writing.
Like the great majority of writers, nobody is clamoring, beating down my door, or demanding my next book. Nobody is pushing me to write. I write because it is who I am—I’m a wordslinger…
WP: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
PB: Writing is a joy, but it’s one of the hardest things you will ever do. Seriously, if you aren’t compelled to write, then don’t. If you can’t not write, if you have to put words on paper every day or go through withdrawals, if the characters in your head won’t shut up, then you are already a writer—and Heaven help you…