About Paul Levinson:
Paul Levinson, PhD, is Professor of Communication & Media Studies at Fordham University in NYC. His nonfiction books, including The Soft Edge (1997), Digital McLuhan (1999), Realspace (2003), Cellphone (2004), and New New Media (2009; 2nd edition, 2012), have been translated into ten languages. His science fiction novels include The Silk Code (winner of Locus Award for Best First Science Fiction Novel of 1999, author’s cut ebook 2012), Borrowed Tides (2001), The Consciousness Plague (2002, 2013), The Pixel Eye (2003, 2014), The Plot To Save Socrates (2006, 2012), Unburning Alexandria (2013), and Chronica (2014) – the last three of which are also known as the Sierra Waters trilogy, and are historical as well as science fiction. He appears on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, the History Channel, NPR, and numerous TV and radio programs. His 1972 LP, Twice Upon a Rhyme, was re-issued in 2010. He reviews television in his InfiniteRegress.tv blog, and was listed in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Top 10 Academic Twitterers” in 2009.
What inspires you to write?
Life inspires me to write – everything in life, the good, the bad, and the mix of both. I always tell my own kids, and my students, hey, if you have a bad experience – say, you get stuck in a traffic jam, to use a not very serious example – it’s good material for your stories. If you have the flu, that gives you first-hand knowledge about how to write a character who has the flu. And the good experiences are wonderful material, too – a delicious meal, a special kiss, just walking down the street when you’re feeling energized – all of these are inspirations for writing. The other part is the content – what stories do you want to tell? I get ideas from everything. Could be the news, could be something in a philosophy class I took 50 years ago, could be a bird that just landed on my lawn. The world, for me, is a plethora of suggestions just waiting to be written.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m always writing in my head. The key for me is finding the time to get what’s in my head on to a screen. But I manage to find some time – usually hours a day, not at one time, but spread out over the day. I write blog posts, short fiction, novels, nonfiction articles and books, and everything in between. I also write lyrics and music. I never outline, except very generally in my head. But I usually have no idea where and how my story will end, until I’m more than halfway there. I love creating my worlds with words as I go along.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I think I actually am my characters, when I’m writing. Or, to be more precise, I’m the point of view character when I’m writing, who’s listening to and interacting with other characters. But even these other characters are versions of me – including not only the heroes but the villains. To write a villain successfully, you have to call upon that part of yourself that’s villainous – otherwise you’ll get a boring, not very believable character. But that’s at least balanced by the good people in your stories, where you can get to be even better than you are in real life.
What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t let anything get in the way of your writing. There are no shortage of good reasons not to write – family engagements, appointments with friends, business, errands. To succeed as a writer, you have to write. And, to do that, you have to take time away from other, worthy activities. In a phrase, you have to be prepared to be a at least little anti-social. Hey, your friends and family will like you even more when you become a successful writer.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
When I first started writing – this was back in the 1970s – the only respectable course for a writer was traditional publishing. Five of my seven novels, and all of my many nonfiction books, were published by big, traditional publishers. But times have changed – I published my last two novels with a small, independent press. I published a novella myself on Kindle. And you know what? I like this more, in many ways, than traditional publishing. I like getting paid monthly, seeing sales as they happen, and having more power over my own books. So my advice to new authors would be: don’t spend too much if any time in pursuit of traditional publishing. Do it yourself and find your audience.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it’s clearly headed towards self-publishing and small-press publishing of ebooks. The new author and the mid-list author can both benefit from these new options. An already-famous person who writes a book is about the only kind of author well-served, these days, by traditional publishers. And my guess is that will be shrinking, too, in the future, as famous people find they can make much more money and have better control over their books without traditional publishing.
What genres do you write?: science fiction, mystery, romance, historical fiction, nonfiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print