Paul Backalenick - Mystery & Suspense Writer

Occasionally Asked Questions

Paul Backalenick - Author

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What is your genre?

I have two, mystery and suspense, and sometimes, as in Development, both take place in the same book. The difference between thie two is this: In a mystery, like Carrie's Secret, a serious crime is committed and there are multiple suspects. The reader tries to guess, but likely doesn't know, "whodunnit," untilt the end. In a suspense novel, we do know the perpetrator, the antagonist, but they are smart and the over-riding question is "will they be caught and how?" There are two other aspects of my "genre" that I always include in my writing. One is family. Most of who we are starts there. The other is a moral aspect. Someone (or multiple people) wrestle with right and wrong choices in my books.

Why did you write your first novel, Development?

I wanted to throw a light on the cost to nature of land development. I am concerned with man's exploitation of the natural world, and the resultant loss of wildlife, beauty, and innocence. Real estate development is one human endeavor where that exploitation is often seen. But the wanton destruction of nature for profit happens in industry and farming as well. Equally concerning is our exploitation of each other, of other human beings, again for profit. I think it is important to recognize the real cost of mankind's selfish expansion and "growth."

Tell us about Carrie's Secret.

Carrie's Secret is a " whodunnit," based in a Boston psychiatric hospital. It includes one of the characters from Development a few years later. Someone has abducted a beautiful girl. Her younger sister witnesses the crime, but cannot tell the police what she saw, a secret that creates nearly unbearable stress in her. Finally, she is admitted to a mental institution where the abductor works. That's enough spoilers!

Is it necessary (or important) to have first read Development before reading Carrie's Secret?

No, it isn't necessary. Carrie's Secret stands on its own although two of the characters from Development do appear in the mystery..

Are the characters in your books based on real people?

Most of the characters, are fictional. Others, such as Dora, Maddie, Jared and Nicole, for example, have some traits or experiences of people I have known, but virtually all the incidents that take place in the book are fictional. And in all cases, the dialog is my own invention. As I metnion in my Bio on this website, there are traits and behaviors of mine that appear in most of my characters. It is true that there is a little of myself in Hank and Jared. There almost has to be. I believe any novelist cannot help but infuse something of himself in at least one character.

What do you like to read?

I especially like police procedurals. I always like the slightly jaded and edgy detective who, despite his faults, has a moral core and catches criminals in sometimes unconventional ways. Favorite authors in this genre include C.J. Box and Michael Connelly. I very much like Ken Follett's pacing. I also enjoy historical fiction, especially novels that trace family generations down through many years. I always appreciate good writing. I may not enjoy all the horror elements, but I always admire Shephen King's writing, his characters, and his storytelling ability.

Do you have a writing schedule?

No, I don’t have a regular schedule. I need to feel a certain amount of spontaneity to write and that doesn’t fit well with schedules. However, I find I am at my most creative and I generally feel sharpest in the early mornings, so if I can carve out time to write, that is when I do it. I need to feel I have a fairly open block of time. The words do not flow if I am conscious of other parts of my life that need time and attention.

What do you like about being a writer?

The process of losing myself in a different time, place and character. I enjoy recognizing what my characters are feeling and allowing their dialog and actions to emerge as they naturally would. If I have set the scene and the characters well, I find the dialog flows out of me with very little consciousl thought. It is that sense I have heard other artists describe of not feeling as though they are actually doing the writing (or playing music or maybe painting). It is more a sense of it happening to you, of the words flowing through you from an unknown source. And you just let it happen. I love that experience.

Is Paul Backalenick your real name?

I could not have made that up. A бакалейщик is a Russian grocer.