Sunday, November 24, 2013

Featured Author: Sean-Paul Thomas

Today I'm talking to Sean-Paul Thomas, the author of the contemporary adult fiction novel, The Universe Doesn't Do Second Chances, published by Tirgearr Publishing. Sean-Paul answers some of my burning questions, and he also brings us an excerpt from the book.

About the book:

A lonely man in his late thirties living an average life of missed opportunities and regrets especially regarding the opposite sex, dies in a plane crash somewhere over the English channel. When he awakens in a subdued and bizarre subconscious state, he is granted by the powers that be a second chance to spend a day with the two women in his life who made an impact on his heart. Yet never had the courage to let go of his social fears and inhibitions and act upon his natural instincts and desires at the time of meeting them.

The first part of the book takes place over one day in the awe inspiring Gothic city of Edinburgh in 2004. When our hero meets Alex on a bus. A beautiful young tourist girl from the Czech Republic. They embark upon a magical one day adventure around the city together. Only the more time our hero spends with his new love interest, the more her hidden secrets and real intentions for being in the city come to surface.

The second part takes place in the late eighties. Our hero wakes up back in high school upon the gorgeous tropical Island of Cyprus. Here he is granted the second chance to meet Sarah. The pretty and athletic tomboy. Who steels his heart while helping each other deal with school bullies, army brat life, dark troubles at home, all in one magical summers day adventure, both young lovers will never forget.

Interview with Sean-Paul Thomas

Sean Paul, you have three other published books (Ugly Beautiful, Alone, and Sarah Smiles) in addition to this newest one. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I've been writing in some format or another for around 20 years. It all started after watching Bram Stokers Dracula for the very first time when I was around 14 years old. I then decided to write a sequel.

What’s the story behind the title The Universe Doesn't Do Second Chances?

It's loosely based on some real events which happened in my own life. With fiction writing though, I'm able to exaggerate things and bend the true life events to my own satisfying outcome.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

There are some pretty funny and filthy ones from my favourite author Irvine Welsh, lol. But I'll keep it light for this interview :)
The opening few lines of Stephen Vizinczey's In Praise of Older Women always stuck with me while growing up:

To young men without lovers. This book is addressed to young men and dedicated to older women - and the connection between the two is my proposition. I'm not an expert on sex, but I was a good student of the women I loved, and I'll try to recall those happy and unhappy experiences, which, I believe, made a man out of me.

Tell us a book by an indie author for which you’re an evangelist.

Is Irvine Welsh still considered an indie author? Or Charles Bukowski? Then Filth by Irvine Welsh, Women and Factotum by Charles Bukowski, Ask the Dust by John Fante, and of course In Praise of Older Women by Stephen Vizinczey.

How do you get to know your characters?

They are usually just a combination of various different weird and wonderful people and personalities who I've had the pleasure and displeasure of spending time with and getting to know throughout my life.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Sarah, from the second story in my book. She is one feisty, kick ass, adventurous tomboy, who, if she isn't already your friend, then definitely shouldn't be messed with. Every young teenage boy should get to hang out with a Sarah for at least one day in their lives. I, of course, had the amazing pleasure of briefly getting to know the real thing.

What would your main character, Liam, say about you?

Hurry up and write a best seller you lazy arsehole :) Actually I think Liam and I would really get along just fine, especially the changed Liam at the end of the story, which is where I'm kind of at now anyway. I'd think he'd be proud too of how I've changed my life around in the past 15 years. Losing weight, getting in shape, becoming more social and even having some good success with a love life :)

Are any of your characters inspired by real people? 

Ha ha, lol. All of them really, but like I said before, everyone is pretty much a combination of different people, and exaggerated to an extent, at that. The truest to form character in the book is definitely Sarah, though. I knew a girl just like her at high school, so she was very easy and enjoyable to write about. I always knew I'd write about her one day.

Is your book based on real events?

Kind of, yes. Apart from the plane crash and time travel element. At least 70 to 80 percent is based on true events. Some of them happened to me, some of them happened to other people.

Are you like any of your characters? How so?

Absolutely, past and present. I've been where Liam is at the start of the story, but many years ago. Kind of unsocial, awkward and shy with girls. But right now, with the experience I've gained through traveling and socialising with a lot of places and people these past ten years, then I'd like to think I'd have the confidence to go over and chat to a cute girl on a plane if she smiled at me first :) No problem.

One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?

Food poisoned to death :) I love my food but I've never experienced any kind of food poisoning yet, fingers crossed. But it's my greatest fear. Both my brother and sister have had it pretty bad over the years. My brother, three times now, and it sounds just awful what he went through, mostly hugging a toilet bowl for 48 hours.

Yikes. Sounds like a horrible way to go! If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose? I'm guessing you're going to say Sarah.

Definitely Sarah. She is one street wise, tough son of a gun. With a come-back and smart answer for everything, she pretty much does whatever she likes. Although she does have a very soft core, if you can indeed find it.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

Both Alex and Sarah, young or old, would be more than entertaining enough.

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

Audrey Hepburn, Charles Bukowski, Irvine Welsh, Eva Green, and Ewan McGregor.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

I guess Liam and Alex, just chilling out on Calton Hill, shooting the s*#t, having a crack. And the scene where Liam and Sarah get stuck in a cave for a few hours during a torrential rain storm. It got very dark in that cave and of course ended up being a very emotional scene to write.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Guns N Roses "Sweet Child of Mine."

I love that song. Who are your favorite authors?

Easy, Irvine Welsh, Charles Bukowski, Knut Hamsun, George Orwell, John Fante, Stephen Vizinczey. I'll give out a free copy of my book, lol, to whoever can tell me how many of those guys are still alive.

You heard him, people--comment below for that free book! Okay, you get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?

Ewan McGregor. He has a lovely, vibrant, cheeky, energetic voice.

Yep, I love him too. What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

Actually Irvine Welsh's latest release, Skagboys on the Kindle. It was out in May this year, but because I've been so busy writing and traveling, I just haven't had time to read it until now. And it is awesome.

I don’t claim to be an expert on writing, but there are some writing techniques (or mistakes) that stand out to me when I read (e.g. when an author switches POV mid-scene). What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

Toooo much description. I think readers have a better experience with a book when they have more freedom to use their imaginations. It was fine 100 years ago when people couldn't get around much and had to rely on the authors awesome description of every brick, stone, flower and clothing from the next city. But these days people have amazing and flamboyant imaginations. They've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things, whether in real life or on TV. Readers are so much more intelligent now than they ever have been and writers have to realise this and adapt accordingly. I struggled with this for such a long time when I first started writing. I wanted to describe everything in detail and leave nothing for the mind. I ended up boring a hell of a lot of people. But now, I think and hope, fingers crossed, I'm slowly getting better at this.

Do you have a routine for writing?

I always kick start a writing session with a delicious cup of black coffee (Carte Noire), one sugar, two digestive biscuits and a banana.

Where’s home for you?

The beautiful, Gothic, magical, inspirational and just plain Goddamn awesome city of Edinburgh :) Without a shadow of doubt. I've been to a lot... a hell of a lot of different places in my life, and there is no place like her, the burgh :) That's my opinion.

Sounds lovely. If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

Trai...Fil... no... Prai... no... Wom... nut, sorry, I just can't decide. It could never be just one :) Sorry.

Understandable! You’re given the day off and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Drive somewhere, to some city or town or place or countryside, where I've never been before, singing along, as I drive, to some good tunes on the radio/CD/USB player.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

Sick boy from Trainspotting. That guy had a lot of fun and did a lot of crazy things that I would be far too S*$t scared to even consider.

What would your dream office look like?

If I could move the city of Edinburgh to Fiji and then build a small glass office on top of Calton Hill to see that view everyday...

Agreed. What’s one of your favorite quotes?

"Some people never go crazy, what truly horrible lives they must lead." --Bukowski

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Reading, rugby, tennis, boxing, traveling, cooking, movies, music, hiking, driving, google, red wine, dark chocolate.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Edinburgh, in 20 degrees or higher heat, no higher than 30 mind. That would be perfection. Sadly, we only see temperatures of 20 degrees and slightly higher for about two weeks of every year here.

I'm assuming you mean Celsius, which would be 68 Fahrenheit. Right? Seeing as how it's below freezing right now, 68 degrees does sound good. But I digress...What are you working on now?

The best I can do to briefly describe my next book is - to think Trainspotting meets Fight Club meets Drive meets the Bucket List meets Taxi Driver meets Bukowski. Mix them all into a huge big fat pint glass of whiskey. Throw in a new writing voice for an extra good measure and you're almost halfway there :)

Here is a brief Synopsis:

Set in modern day Edinburgh, an average Joe in his early thirties, is given the news that he has terminal Brain Cancer. Refusing any kind of help or Chemo treatment, he struggles with overbearing thoughts of becoming a better person while desperately wanting to give into his urges, fears and desires to do and act however the hell he pleases. While most people around him remain stuck inside their social fear sheep bubbles. Obeying the rules, regulations and boring routines of monotonous, every day, working  life. Our protagonist yearns to know and feel what it's really like to live a life without regret and the consequences of tomorrow while still healthy and able to give a damn.

The story unfolds with slow burning tension as our hero eventually turns his back on modern day society and begins using his terminal illness as a license to act out his biggest dreams and fantasies. Good and bad. While squaring up with a few buried, but not forgotten, demons from his past along the way.

If you knew you only had a short time left on this planet to live, really live. What would you do?

A dark, sexy, black humorous tale of sex, violence, modern society, the male psyche, unstoppable whirlwind adventures and finding love in the most least likely location.

And you'll be back when it's published...right?

Sean-Paul's other books:

Excerpt from The Universe Doesn't Do Second Chances

'So at school, did you ever fancy any of your teachers?' I asked, re-igniting our conversation from earlier. Alex, with her arms spread out behind her back and supporting her upper body on the grass, glanced at me with a very confused look.


'You know, like have a crush on or find attractive.'

Alex continued to stare at me blankly.

'Did you want to kiss any of your teachers?' I said blatantly spelling it out.

Alex chuckled. 'Are you kidding me? All my teachers were as old as the Earth.' She shivered with an over reactive gesture and shook her head in disgust. She then turned back to face me with a mischievous grin.

'But I'm guessing you did since you brought this up.'

'As a matter of fact I did, yeah, when I was around nine, now that I come to think about it.'

'Nine!' Alex looked shocked.

'Yeah, I had the biggest crush on my primary school teacher, ever.'

'You did not.'

'I did too, I swear.'

'I remember how I'd always be the first one to volunteer to do anything for her in class whenever she asked me, like cleaning off the chalk from the black board or collecting everyone's homework and staying behind after class to help tidy up.'

Alex playfully pinched my cheek like a little kid. 'Oh, that is so cute and sweet of you, Liam.'

'Yeah well, it gets better. Eventually I found out that the bitch was married, and it nearly broke my little nine-year-old heart.'

Alex started laughing, almost choking in the process.

'And from that point onwards I just became such a little shit to her in class.'

Alex continued to smile and shook her head.

'Always playing up. I stole her stapler a few times then sneakily wrote rude words on her blackboard before she arrived to class. I started throwing pens, paper, pencils at the other kids around class or whatever I could find whenever she wasn't looking. I was pretty sneaky like that.'

'Wow! What a little shit you were, Liam. So what kind of rude words did you write on her blackboard?'

'Too rude to share with a cheeky Czech tomboy like you.'

'I'm the cheeky one now.' She smiled. 'Hey, can I ask, what is the difference between sneaky and cheeky?'

I chuckled as a crazy thought entered my head.

'You don't know?'

'Well, I think I do, but I'm sure everyone has different interpretations.'

I stood to my feet immediately and held out my hand.

'What, what are you doing? More dancing?'

'Come, stand up.'

Alex took my hand and I pulled her onto her feet. We were standing close now, only a few inches apart.

'Okay. Now close your eyes.'

She gave me a suspicious glare and grinned. 'No, I don't trust you, you might do something bad.'

'What, like steel your camera.'

'Hmmm, that too.'

'Just close your eyes.'

'What are you going to do?'

'I'm going to show you the difference between cheeky and sneaky.'

'Why don't you just tell me?'

'Because it's more fun this way,' I said with a sly grin.

She paused in thought for a long moment before letting out a deep sigh. Finally she closed her eyes.

'Okay! Then show me.'

The adrenaline surged through my veins. I couldn't believe I was about to actually try this. I had no idea where this mischievous playful thought had come from, but it was too late to stop it now, I had acted in the moment, so I had to go through with it.

'Okay, so this is cheeky.'

I leaned in very close to Alex, almost like I were going to kiss her gently upon her soft and delicious, lush red lips, but instead, I lowered my hands down to her perky buttocks and gently squeezed her cheeks. Alex let out a playful scream and slapped me on the shoulder.

'That was bad.' She giggled, although, she didn't back away.

'Okay.' I smiled back. 'And now for something sneaky.'

'Oh! That wasn't the sneaky thing.'

'Close your eyes.'

She did what I asked and closed her eyes tight.

'Okay, now this is sneaky.'

This time I leaned in really slow, but right up close towards her, my face and lips millimetres from her own. At the same time I lifted my left hand and gently curved it around the bottom of her face and neck and underneath her soft-flowing blonde hair. I softly kissed her cherry lips. She never flinched in the slightest and even better, her small pretty mouth moved in unison with mine. The act lasted for a good ten seconds and just as I felt the tip of her tongue brushing against the top of my lip, she gently pulled away. I opened my eyes to find Alex unleashing a radiant and devilish smile.

'Well that was unexpected.'

All I could do was smile back. I was glowing.

'So this is the difference, huh?' She continued.

We eventually sat back down upon the grass, but this time a little closer together. Alex was still smiling and blushing slightly from cheek to cheek.

'So before your little demonstration you were telling me about your first crush on a teacher.'

'Oh yeah.' I had almost forgotten.

'So you misbehaved in her class after you found out she was married.'

'Yeah, well, until she called my parents into school because she thought there was something wrong at home.'

'Your parents must have been livid?'

'Oh, they were, but to this day neither of them knew the real reason why I'd acted up like that.'

Alex shook her head and smiled. Another comfortable pause lingered in the air. She glanced away for a brief moment but I couldn't take my eyes away from her still. Once again, Alex broke the silence first.

'So how old were you when you had your first kiss?'

'My first kiss.' I replied, a little surprised at her question. 'Twenty-nine and a few months, I guess, right in the shadow of the national monument on a little shade of grass on top of a perfectly stunning hill in the middle of Edinburgh.' I teased.

Alex chuckled.

'Wow! You are so funny. But seriously, tell me?'

'Well, Jesus, let me see. My first kiss was with a girl named Kelly. She was about ten and I was about seven.'

'Seven.' Replied Alex looking even more shocked than hearing my teacher confession.

'What can I say, I was an early starter?'

About the author:

Born in London to Scottish and Irish parents, Sean spent most of his childhood and teenage years growing up on the move in the likes of Cyprus, Germany, Wales, and England as an Army brat. With a keen interest in both reading and writing, he was diagnosed with the travel and writing bugs very early on in life.

Now, writing, reading, and traveling are his main passions in life, but he also loves outdoor sports too from rugby and hiking to tennis and boxing.

His main inspiration for writing today comes from living in such a beautiful, Gothic, hauntingly, awe inspiring, dramatic and historical city such as Edinburgh. This place has given Sean so much amazing inspiration to write the more time he spends dwelling here with her. And he challenges anyone with 'so called' writer's block to take a walk up and around the magical Carlton Hill in Edinburgh's city center sometime. (In any kind of weather too, which will usually be a windy rain storm even in the heart of summer) Then just kick back, relax and enjoy the majestic views of our glorious castle, Princes street gardens, the bridges, the breathtaking and spectacular volcanic Munroe 'Arthur's seat', The river fourth, the Greek influenced national monument on the very top of the hill. (Which is where Edinburgh gets its nickname 'Athens of the North' from.) And of course, the view of the fabulously Gothic monument of Sir Walter Scot, Scotland's greatest and most famous ever writer to date.

At this moment, he is writing another two books, one is about a young man working in a dead-end job and life who discovers that he has a terminal illness so decides to withdraw all of his life savings from the bank, go out into the world, and do all the things that he's always dreamed of doing, but was restricted by the rules and regulations that society feeds into us from birth.

The other book is about his recent four month awesome back packing adventure through Eastern Europe last year, from Estonia to Sarajevo.

Connect with Sean-Paul:
Website | Facebook | Goodreads |  

Buy the book:
Amazon author page | Amazon | Smashwords