Author Paul Calhoun, who wrote the amusingly titled and amusing to read, Eighty-Six Pitrell Becomes Dread Admiral, for A Tall Ship, a Star, and Plunder, kindly let me interview him.
Paul Calhoun has been active in the science fiction and fantasy community since age seven. Having turned his hand to cartoons, animation, voice work and more, he's willing to try anything and get involved in whatever looks good at the time. Now finished with his degrees in electrical engineering and operations management, he is currently a civilian engineer for the US Navy.
1) Why did you decide to write about pirates?
a. It felt like the field of the romantic ‘skull-and-crossbones sailing the sea of stars’ space pirate fiction had slowed down to a trickle. I also had the idea for the character of Pitrell as some kind of extremely timid criminal who nobody respected. He seemed to be the furthest possible thing from a swashbuckler, so that’s what I made him.
2) Why do you write at all? What made want to spend your life on work to which a smaller and smaller percentage of Western culture is receptive every year and for which most folks doing it receive very little monetary remuneration?
a. I have no visual artistic skills, build stories in my head and – at least I think – have skill at building imagery in writing. If I didn’t write, the stories would have nowhere to go.
3) Do you have a favorite historical pirate, if so, who is it and why?
a. I have a feeling most people are going to say Blackbeard, so I’ll say Greenbeard, the fiercest, slowest pirate who ever lived. He only ever intercepted ships heading directly towards him without seeing him and died because someone moved the grog barrel four feet and it took him twenty-six hours to reach it.
4) Do you have a favorite movie pirate, if so, who is it and why?
a. Tochiro Oyama. That man could build some serious hardware for a guy who never seemed to actually plunder anything.
5) Without spoiling the plot, what inspired you to write your story for A Tall Ship, a Star, and Plunder?
a. The character of Pitrell. This story and the sequels happened because he worked so well in his position as a complete failure whose job nobody else wanted badly enough to try to kill him.
6) Is there a book you read again and again? Why?
a. The Daughter of the Empire series by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts. They aren’t the best books I’ve ever read, but there’s something about them that’s compelling. The same goes for the Golden Key by Melanie Rawn and the Magic of Twilight by SL Farrell.
7) What is your opinion of the classics in the genre in which you generally write? That is, do they deserve to be classics?
a. Most of them do because they got there first. There are a few I don’t understand the appeal of but for the most part I think SF/F classics deserve their spot. They may not be the best, but they’re the ones that nailed a concept before anyone else did.
8) Is there an author that you emulate? Why?
a. I think I might take after LE Modesitt because I often write about characters who have to do a lot of administrative work and aren’t necessarily the underdogs, just late to arriving in whatever crisis they have to deal with.
9) How much do you read?
a. 600-900 pages paperback per week.
10) What is your most current project that is close to publication?