Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Welcome to Paul Baines!

I enjoyed hosting the discussion of Paul's book: Alpha Redemption at the ACFW bookclub particularly because I'm not a sci-fi fan. But I'll have to tell you, by the time I finished the book and concluded the discussion, I not only appreciated the fact that I read the book, but learned a lot in the process. No doubt I'll be reading more of Paul's books. 

AND if you're a fan of sci-fi, or know someone who is, then here's your chance to get a free book. As always, leave comment and email address.  

Paul, how long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?

Yes and yes (well, sort of). I haven't loved writing all my life, but certainly for a long time. I used to mess around with writing during English lessons at school. When I should have been writing a serious essay I would make up some weird story instead. It meant I had to finish the serious stuff later, but I had great fun. As for the 'call', it was more of a reply. I asked God what I could do for Him, and I suddenly (over a matter of weeks) found myself with a story rattling around inside my head that refused to go away until I wrote it down.

LOL. My writing buddy in high school and I use to spend our study halls (which should have been spent on studying) writing short stories and poems. What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?

I write mostly science fiction (or sci-fi) which, along with fantasy, horror, supernatural, and a few others, falls under the general umbrella of Speculative Fiction (aka the 'weird' stuff). All fiction is speculative to some degree, but Speculative Fiction (or spec-fic as it is often called) is generally considered more imaginative than the other genres, in that it deals with scenarios that tend to stray further away from what would normally be considered possible. Sci-fi often takes scientific ideas and then runs with them to see where they may or may not go. Within sci-fi you get various nuances, such as 'soft' and 'hard', which basically refers to the level of scientific detail within the story. In a 'soft' sci-fi story, there may be very little reference to science and technology, or things traditionally associated with sci-fi (such as aliens, space-ships, robots, etc.). In such a story, the traditional sci-fi elements may act merely as a backdrop for the story.

How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?

This varies wildly. I write when I can, which can range from a few minutes to many hours. My published novel (Alpha Redemption) took me about three months to finish whereas my current story was started about five years ago and I am still only 80% through.

Interesting! You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?

It is called Alpha Redemption and is an example of what you would call 'soft' sci-fi. I usually refer to it as a human drama in outer space, or 'Robinson Crusoe' meets '2001: A Space Odyssey'. The story revolves around Brett Denton, who has volunteered to take part in an experimental speed-of-light mission to Alpha Centauri. By doing this, he hopes to escape from his troubles and a recent tragedy involving his family. His only companion on the trip is a learning-capable computer (called Jay). At first Brett is irritated by the computer's constant questioning but, with time, an unlikely friendship blossoms. With Jay's help, Brett finds healing and rediscovers his faith in God.

Alpha Redemption is available from all major online bookstores: (paperback and Kindle) (paperback and Kindle) (paperback and Kindle)

Barnes and Noble (paperback and Nook)

Splashdown Books (paperback) (paperback)

The Book Depository (paperback)

Smashwords (various ebook formats)

Kobo Books (ebook)

No excuse not to order it! What is the spiritual message in your book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?

In writing Alpha Redemption, I wanted to show that God will never forsake you, no matter how far you run.

Which you very capably did! Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through?

Many times. I think if I were to count the number of rejection letters I have received over the years, then that would be about the number of times I wanted to stop writing. The hardest part for me was to have people look at my work and say 'wow, you should be published' only to have each and every submission returned with a polite rejection slip. I think the only reason I never gave up was because my very first novel was accepted by a reputable agent in New York. That said to me that I could be published one day, if only I persisted. Sometimes I wished I hadn't been accepted by that agent, because it made it impossible for me to quit.

Oh, the determination and persistence of writers. Who has more of it than them? Who’s inspired you the most?

My family were always a huge inspiration. I recently had a conversation with my kids and we discussed what they thought of my long road to publication. My daughter said that it inspires her to keep going, even when everything looks hopeless. Apart from that, reading about Stephen King's struggle for publication was a huge inspiration to me. I figured that if Stephen King could get a lot of rejection slips, then I shouldn't expect it to get by without a few of my own.

Amen. Would you explain how you “chose” (or were chosen by) a publisher? Do you just go “inny, minny, miny, moe?” Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?

I used to select publishers based on the books they had on their lists, and how open they were to new writers. If I saw a book similar to mine on their list of published books, then I would submit. For Alpha Redemption, I handed it to God. My prayer always used to be: 'Please let it be published.'

This time my prayer was: 'Please don't let this be published, unless you want it to be.' I entered it into an online premise contest and a publisher saw it and asked to read it. After some small adjustments, Grace Bridges of Splashdown Books offered to publish it.

As for sitting back and relaxing: no way! Well, I suppose you could but you would not sell many books. In fact, I would say that trying to persuade people to invest their time and money in an unknown author is almost as difficult as finding a publisher. The fact is that, unless you end up with a big publisher who thinks your book is a potential bestseller, you are going to have to do most of the marketing yourself.

That's so true. Even those published with "big" publishers, well, if they don't do well, are in danger of not publishing again with that publisher. Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?

My first career was in the fitness industry, so I have always been a bit of a fitness fanatic. I was slow and heavy as a kid, but managed to improve my general athletic ability through sheer hard work. I think that this was an important lesson for me. Recently, I started playing rugby again so that I could play in the same team as my son. I forgot how much I missed the game. As far as travel goes, I would like to spend my life travelling to exotic places. I moved around a lot as a kid, so I suppose it's in my blood. I would love to see the pyramids.

Ooooh! What sci-fi book you could get from the pyramids! Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?

My personal author website is: with a list of reviews for Alpha Redemption here: Amazon reviews can be found here:

I am also part of a joint blog here: (I am listed in the alumni section and currently only blog about once a month)

Thank you so much, Paul, for being here this week.
Readers, comments and email addresses will put you in the running for a book from Paul.


Teresa Lockhart said...

I'm an English teacher and a I-hope-to-be-published-someday writer. Maybe I can inspire my students to persevere. Thanks for offering some encouragement. I jumped into the writing world head first, and I'll have to admit it's a little scary. I'm praying that I'll get an agent. Thanks so much for sharing your insight.

Faye said...

Trusting things to God is really hard. Sounds like an interesting book.

Kathryn Page Camp said...

Paul, the pyramids in Egypt are pretty cool, but I prefer the Mayan pyramids in Mexico because they are more intricate. (I've been to both places.) So if you can't make it to Egypt, try Uxmal and Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Penninsula of Mexico.

Richard C. Leonard, Ph.D. said...

Having written in what I considered the "speculative fiction" genre myself, I am intrigued. I have enjoyed sci-fi since my teen years when I was a TV devotee of the Space Cadets, Captain Video, etc. However, newer literature (since WWII, especially) has tended to veer off into the science-fantasy genre which (from a Christian point of view) does not interest me because of the tinge of the occult, magic and the like. Moreover, most sci-fi or futuristic writing takes no account of the presence of a Christian world view in centuries to come. I would like to see what Paul, as a Christian, has done with this genre in "Alpha Redemption."

Caroline said...

Thanks Teresa and Faye or commenting! It is scary, Teresa, the pub world, but if we persevere, we'll have our rewards. :)

Paul's bk is an interesting and intriguing book. I can't profess to understand sci-fi that well, but it's stuck w/me! That's saying something.

pabaines said...

Thanks for having me Caroline, it was fun! And thanks to everyone who dropped by to have a read. I really appreciate you taking the time to stop and say hello.

Hi Teresa. Yes it was head-first for me too :-). Exhilarating but a little scary too. I pray you find an agent. Just don't give up!

Hi Faye. Amen. People say being Christian is the easy way out. They are so wrong. It's far easier to do what you want to do, but God can see the road ahead much clearer than you and I.

Kathryn, hi and thanks for the suggestion. My wish-list just gained another couple of entries! My brother lives in California, so maybe I can visit him and then head down to Mexico someday...

Hi Richard. Nice to meet a fellow spec-fic writer! One of my main motivations for writing Christian sci-fi is to glorify God through speculative fiction. I read almost no secular spec-fic these days because God is either ignored, denied or mocked. Just recently I read an award-winning story that mocked the Bible for no good reason. It didn't help the plot or add to the story. It was simply a gratuitous swipe at the Christian faith. As a Christian, I want to give something to those who love spec-fic AND God.

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