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Writer vs. Writer Interview: Paula C. Deckard

A self-published author, professional content writer, blogger, and ghostwriter, Paula C. Deckard prides herself on being an exophonic writer and wants to connect with fellow exophonic writers who love the English language as much as she does. Her works are greatly transgressive and she believes in stories with deep emotional impacts that take readers to a place they didn’t know existed. her stories are of a type to die for.

Hi Paula. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a freelance writer and self-published author from Germany who is currently living in Canada. I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the UK, where I have lived and worked for many years. I’m an avid reader, individualist, agnostic, and absurdist who has difficulty not seeking refuge in fiction. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably overusing CBD because anything else is a chore—in other words, today’s reality has a numbing effect on my emotions and psyche.

Fantastic. I'm curious about the first time you thought outside of the box when it comes to writing.

That wasn’t until very late! Even though I got into writing at a very young age, I was highly influenced by mainstream YA and romance. I was a hopeless romantic, a lost cause who didn’t learn from “The Sorrows of Young Fucking Werther.” (In fact, I hated that book.)

I was safe with my hopes and dreams inside a locked box until I immersed myself in classics and philosophy at sixteen. I thought to myself, “Finally, books are teaching me to think for myself!” However, there were hardly any contemporary books from which I could learn to write in a modern way; therefore, it had taken me a while to find my voice and break free from that conventional style that didn’t express who I was. For the longest time, I felt restricted to write about certain things, thinking that there was a limit as to how you approached taboo themes.

Later, Charles Bukowski and Bret Easton Ellis taught me what literature really was—namely self-exposure through honesty and endurance. Their voices were more modern and relatable. I remember finally stepping out of the box and writing about what mattered to me the most.

I can't agree more. Tell me, why transgressive fiction? What about this genre attracts you?

Transgressive fiction examines another side of being human—the side that ultimately defines us, yet many people are unwilling to connect with it. Themes of narcissism, guilt, sex, death, mental health, and more can be explored deeper and more accurately within the genre of transgressive fiction. Lately, it has helped me connect with the right people, as the average person doesn’t have the capacity for transgression; you don’t really have anything to talk about with them. While still somewhat an underground genre, it’s the only genre that allows you to let loose in the most unconventional way. Transgressive writers fascinate me not only because they’re brave enough to show you who they are, but they write the most extraordinary stories.

Plus, it hurts like it should but in a more mature way. The satirical aspect of it is cool too.

True! What is your current book about? What did you edit out of it?

My latest book, “Heart like a Hole” is about how a female heart surgeon in New York deals with the absurdities of life. She uses her PTSD as a motivation to make something out of it—sex, surgeries, and blood work versus the reoccurring images of the past.

Honestly, I didn’t edit anything out of it, yet it took me over seven years to redraft it. This process mainly involved keeping the tone consistent, fixing syntax, and rewriting and restructuring the opening chapters (I suck at writing openings).

Since the release of that book was three years ago, my current and second book is a semi-autobiographical piece detailing my life in Germany and the UK. The title is “Passing Crushes,” which I know has a YA ring to it. I had this stupid idea of writing a rom-com (as a joke) until I realized that I didn’t have the mindset for it. Yet the title still resonates with the story, so I doubt I will edit it.

Can't wait to read that one! What was your hardest scene to write?

Some of the surgery scenes were difficult to write, especially when trying to be detailed-oriented, but ultimately, I focused more on what was happening in my protagonist’s narcissistic mind. The semi-bestial moment with the sow was also hard to write. Up to this day, no one has spoken a word of it.

Oh, and there was a cat-killing and a rape scene, which I thought would be hard to write, but it really depends on how in-tune you are with the unreliable narrator. I often put myself in my reader’s perspective, wondering how much they trust my protagonist and whether they empathize with her. If they like her, I’ll know I’ve done it right. However, I don’t know what it says about me if the other readers find her despicable. It’s not easy for me to work it out sometimes.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I think I have reached a point of empathy where I can easily write from any gender’s point of view. Some physical phenomena might be a bit difficult to explore. I don’t think I’ve written a hardcore sex scene from a man’s point of view yet.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

For “Heart like a Hole,” I spent about six months researching surgeries, hospital dynamics, and psychology. Since I don’t watch drama series like “ER” or “Grey’s Anatomy,” I watched an entire season of “Scrubs,” but I was none the wiser.

It was a very ambitious project and the totally wrong first book to write. While I had the story clear before my eyes, I had to make all the supporting aspects work. One of the most important things was the setting. I’ve only been to New York once when I was a child but never had the opportunity to return. It was okay because I wanted to create a more fictional feel, inspired by American Psycho and even Home Alone 2.

Some facts that you gather from research won’t work well in fiction. My professor once said that if you base your story on a piece of research, everything it asserts must be made true again in the story, reinvented in plausible experience. However, I’ve been very careful with how I use my research.

I tend to only research stuff I’m genuinely interested in and see a story potential. But who knew that the idea of a “blood-stained band-aid” would have me research hospitals and surgeries?

For my second book, I decided to write about what I know. Most of the research materials are in my blog and journals.

Fantastic. It's hard work for sure. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I attempted about 30 thirty novels between 1997-2002—nothing I would want to share with anyone. The real thing happened in 2006 when the first chapters of “Heart Like a Hole” came to light. The second novel is half-finished; it’s currently undergoing a rewriting process.

I tend to finish what I start, but after “Heart like a Hole,” I decided to be more realistic and straightforward with future writing projects. I couldn’t produce anything like the first book again.

What’s the best way to market your books?

I’m honestly too shy. I only recently started networking with fellow indie authors on social media and my blog. Great things came out of it because we supported each other through reviews and podcasts. That’s how I’ve been spreading the word.

I don’t have a loud personality, so self-marketing has always been challenging. One wouldn’t believe that I’m 50% extroverted; I just don’t know how to use it to my advantage sometimes.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Sure, every writer does that. My second book will call out some parallels that only those who have read the first one will see. It may even confirm your assumptions about the author.

That’s the joy of creating alter-egos. If you dump a load of secret emotions on a fictional character, they often deal with it better than you. I love the way my protagonist handles my problems, which, in real life, may not be very wise in itself.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

I don’t owe anyone anything, really. Back in the day, it was probably my attempt to understand the things certain people did. If you’re young and inexperienced, you won’t easily understand other people’s actions because you lack the wisdom to put yourself in their shoes.

The truth is, you can’t ever put yourself in anyone’s shoes because you won’t ever know how they feel, neither will you ever know them. You can gain a better understanding of them via your stories.

I used to believe that I could change people for the better until I fell on my face several times. Writing about these people helped me come to terms with their actions. Or I should say—my own actions too because I am part of the cause.

Ellen Parker in “Heart like a Hole” never came to terms with anything or anyone. You may call her vindictive, unforgiving, and passive-aggressive. Is it reflective of the author herself? Perhaps.

I suppose in my second book, I’ll have to incorporate forgiveness somehow.

Thank you Paula for joining us today and I hope for future collaboration.

Thank you so much again for this opportunity. I had great fun!

If you're interested to know Paula better, please check the following links:

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