Author Paul Clayton has been writing fiction for 50 years.
Two of his latest works are “Crossing Over” and “Van Ripplewink: You Can’t Go Home Again.” He answered some questions from HiT about how technological and cultural changes have radically transformed the book publishing industry.
Full disclosure: Clayton and interviewer Paul Hair are both members of the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance.
HiT: Why did you become a fiction writer?
Paul Clayton: I’ve always enjoyed good books, and I believe that the books I took out of the library when I was a preteen could have saved my life.
We’d moved to a different neighborhood and my friends were all gone. I read Booth Tarkington’s Save“Penrod” series and also Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn.” Books injected joy into my tortured ten-year-old soul, and I went to and from the library for a whole summer to get my fix.
I believe that it was Vietnam that made me a writer. After I graduated from high school, I went to work at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Some of my buddies went to college, getting that crucial draft deferment. [I didn’t.] I was drafted. I went; I survived; I did not have a good time.
Eventually I met the (first) love of my life and she inspired me to go to college and pursue my desire to learn how to write.
And, I must add, my experience as a ground pounder in ‘Nam was burning inside like a bad case of acid reflux. I had to get it out, and I especially wanted to inflict it on those who had sent me, and those who had finagled their way out of going. And so began my quest to write and publish what would eventually be titled, “Carl Melcher Goes to Vietnam.”
HiT: “Crossing Over” is an apocalyptic tale warning about current events. Reviewers mention that Mike (the protagonist) is an everyman who doesn’t pay much attention to politics. Is that correct? Also, does this describe many Americans, and has such a lack of attention contributed to why the nation seems to be disintegrating?
Clayton: Yes, I would say that that is a good description of Mike. And yes, I would say that describes about a third of Americans. But, I would not say that people like Mike are why we are currently in a “cold” civil war, and in danger of flipping over into a hot one. . . .
Read the entire interview at Hollywood in Toto.