Paul Proffet lives in Cheltenham with his wonderful partner Tanya and a seemingly constant scuffle with indigestion. He works full-time in the private security industry and writes whenever he can. CrossOver is his debut novel and he has recently picked a fight with the sequel. We chatted to Paul about his influences and inspirations in January 2015.
Which book do you own that puts a smile on your face and makes you happy just by holding it in your hand?
This question is a tough ask for me as there have been so many. Spending much of my life face first in a book, comic or graphic novel means there have been countless times I've been blown away by great writing.
For any piece of good writing to have an effect on its reader, the reader has to be in the right place when they pick it up. I think it's a two way relationship. If you read something at the perfect time it awakens something inside, acting as a catalyst that changes you in some way.
Fantastic comics like 2000AD and a little later Toxic, helped me let my imagination off the chain. Authors such as Shaun Hutson, Dean Koontz and Sir David of Gemmell will have to shoulder some of the blame for my state of mind too. At least that's what I tell the therapist anyway!
Relics and Assassins by Shaun Hutson showed me that life doesn't always have a happy ending and it was possible to shock your readers on every other page. Lightning by Dean Koontz taught me that keeping your audience on the edge of its seat wasn't just a concept for movies or sporting events. But it was a member of the fantasy writing aristocracy that had the biggest impact. Knights of Dark Renown by David Gemmell taught me that heroes can be afraid and noble men can be corrupted. Many of his books take pride of place on my bookshelf and I can't count how many times I've spent hours with Druss, John Shannow and Waylander. I don't think I could even pick my favourite Gemmell novel, let alone my favourite overall.
I hate being middle of the road when it comes to giving answers, but I really can't choose.
Which book or series do you read that makes you feel nostalgic, remembering the period in your life you first read it?
I really don't do the nostalgia thing. I spent much of my childhood using books and comics to escape, so as a result I'm tremendously affectionate towards many of the ones that helped me through some tough times. Whether it was a favourite book being used as an antidote to whatever I had been instructed to read at school or something to improve my mood during dark times, I'm very protective about my personal collection.
Which book or series do you read that makes your blood pump and your palms sweaty?
I'm not sure about blood pressure and clammy meat-hooks, but one book I have revisited many times is World War Z by Max Brooks. It really is mind-boggling in its scope and ingenuity. I suspect that the book re-jigs its content whenever I'm not looking because I seem to notice something new every time I pick it up. For a book of this type to be able to appeal to such a wide range of readers is a real event.
Is there a particular author that leaves you thinking: One day I would like to be able to write just like that?
I'm going to have to go no on this one. I genuinely hope that nobody reading this thinks me arrogant because I'm really not, but I strive to do my own thing. Many authors have had a profound effect on me and I thank them all for doing so, but they haven't lived my life and seen the things I've seen. For me to strive to be like another writer would make me feel unoriginal and unimaginative.
Which book or series do you think you could implant one of your own characters? Would you want them to thrive or want them to burn it all down?
This is a fiendish question and I have to admit the idea intrigues me. As CrossOver is my debut novel, I haven't got that many candidates, but the ones I have would have a ball.
Maybe putting Len Doyle into The Lord of the Rings and have him inject his own particular style of profanity would be wheeze. I reckon Gandalf's face would be a sight to behold. Or perhaps putting Billy Gallagher into an ancient religious text and after making him do something outrageous I could hear him saying 'Let's see how the future religious scholars interpret that bastard!'
Putting characters outside their comfort zone truly fascinates me and I love this question.
CrossOver by Paul Proffet
When a mystical warning from a vulnerable girl helps Len Doyle avoid a bloodbath, he wants answers.
If there's one thing a professional killer doesn't like, its loose ends.
In return for her secrets, the young girl wants shelter and protection.
But in hindsight, perhaps Doyle should have found out what she needed protecting from…
Drawn in equal parts from David Gemmell and Quentin Tarantino, CrossOver is a fresh and edgy take on epic/dark fantasy.
Set both in modern times and alternate realities, the main characters do battle with Underworld Killers and High Daemons, but through it all is a sense of humour as dark as it gets.
After a journey at break-neck speed our group arrive at a tense showdown, but before the smoke clears, several kettles will have died.