Cap’n Joe: Can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
Paul: Of course! However, I should first point out that the video intro means so much more when you realize that Munchit cannot be seen by Professor Makestuff! Right – back to me: I was born in a house – not a hospital – in Ramsgate in the south east coast of the UK. I lived there for 21 years before moving to Broadstairs (heavy Dickens influence!). I’m married and have three children – all boys. I’ve always been interested in art, design and technology and all of my working career has involved these elements. I have introduced new technology into pre-production studios, run my own design agency, been a consultant for The Hydrographic Office in Taunton, worked as contractor for Pfizer in Sandwich and Adobe in Norwich before moving to Cambridge and I now work for Global Graphics Software in Cambourne – putting all of my in-the-field experience back into the software we create. I’ve been there for 14 years and every day is a massive technological challenge!
Cap’n Joe: When you finished your debut eBook, how did you feel?
Paul: My first thought was that this was just the start of something big! You see, I have designed Makestuff & Munchit® to be totally flexible with the storyboard, technology and creativity. The two characters: Professor Makestuff – a science professor who likes to create – is capable of constructing anything – as he’s a scientist and he has a wonderful aid – his own invention – his Fabricating Belt. That’s something we all wish we had! I’m sure we’d all just like to think of something and look down – and there it is! That invention, though, attracted the attention of the Transdimensional Council – because the matter used for the items being fabricated was being pulled across from other dimensions into ours – so they sent an observer in the form of “Munchit” to ensure the safety of dimensional stability. Because Munchit has large, round, mirror eyes – they are capable of using any ray, beam or particle technology – so whilst writing my stories – I will not be limited by imagination, technology or ability. The “fun” element comes from the fact that Munchit cannot be seen by Professor Makestuff! I’m sure you can see the huge potential and the fun I will have when writing stories for these characters in the future! All of these thoughts happened in a single “WOW” moment! Transdimensional mischief had truly arrived! 🙂
Cap’n Joe: While writing, did you need help with punctuation, grammar, etc., if so where did you turn?
Paul: Luckily my first eBook is reasonably short – so it was easy to persuade friends, colleagues and family to have a read! (I hope I am as fortunate when I write a more lengthy piece!)
Cap’n Joe: With the number of hours spent writing, did your family members support you or complain about the time spent away from them?
Paul: Being naturally creative, I spend a lot of time in my study anyhow – so to my family – it was just more of the same! They always support me! I had a beautifully endearing moment though – that I’d really like to thank you for Joe. When I told my twin boys about this interview, one of them put his arm around me and said: “I’m really proud of you, Dad!” It almost made me cry!
Cap’n Joe: Did writing your first novel benefit you in any way and if so, how?
Paul: Absolutely! It’s such a positive, creative and rewarding activity. For the past ten years, I have had an idea brewing in my mind – but about four years ago I decided that I wouldn’t use 2D watercolours to illustrate my work. I would use 3D as my medium. One of the biggest obstacles was that I had no 3D experience and when looking at programs such as MAYA, the cost was astronomical – not just the software, but the hardware required to run and render it. So I had to wait for technology to catch up with me in terms of speed and cost! 🙂 When it finally had – I was also extremely lucky to find Andy Cocksey – a wonderfully gifted 3D artist. Andy and I got on really well and Andy agreed to teach me how to use a 3D program called “Blender”. It is something that will take me years to master, though! Andy has an excellent gift at being able to identify a requirement and recreate it in 3D space! I provided Andy with a few Photoshop illustrations of what I wanted – and he produced the two 3D characters you can see in the eBook and YouTube video. Andy produced the lion’s share of the images for the first eBook – so that I could focus on getting the story right. It is my hope that – as time goes on – I will become more familiar with Blender and be able to produce more of the 3D images myself – whilst Andy will be able to focus more on the Video and Gaming aspects of Makestuff & Munchit® using MOtion CAPture (MoCap) software that maps your body’s movement directly to the 3D characters in real time! So I will be playing with all of this technology as well as creating entertaining and educational content whilst I’m learning 3D too!
Cap’n Joe: When you were writing your book, did you shut-off from family and all social networks?
Paul: Ha ha! As much as I was able to – yes! Creativity doesn’t have to be a lonely place – but it is my belief that having absolute focus on the environment you are creating is paramount to projecting your vision into words and visual media. Constant interruptions or being forced to only be creative between 5 and 6 o’clock (IMO) just doesn’t work at all. Ignoring the phone ringing often led to somebody opening my study door and asking me why I hadn’t answered it! Getting into the frame of mind where visualization of the intended story is crystal clear in one’s mind is absolutely necessary to be able to express any emotion and your scene’s environment vividly and accurately!
Cap’n Joe: Do you have any particular goal in mind when you are writing?
Paul: For my first eBook, the target audience includes anybody who wants to learn but is bored by conventional learning techniques and finds that traditional methods are totally unrewarding. Anybody from 4 years old to 104 years old (or older!!) should be able to benefit from my educational eBooks. I’ve tried to make them interesting – using lots of images too! I’ve also used a technique which is learning through repetition. Yes, that’s right: learning through repetition! (lol) Any specific area where the subject being taught needs to be learned by the reader in order for them to fully understand it – I have introduced Munchit in such a way that Munchit will eat or destroy (for example, by using his laser beam) part of what’s being taught, so that Professor Makestuff then has to re-make or re-do it. This method of construct/deconstruct/reconstruct enforces the subject being taught in such a way that the reader will automatically (and easily) identify what’s being taught when it is reconstructed – but at the original point of learning – they may well have switched off! It is my hope that this method can be applied to very simple subjects as well as extremely complicated subjects too!
Cap’n Joe: Did you use friends or family members as Beta readers for your debut novel, if so who?
Paul: My wife and children and a couple of close friends were used to provide feedback to me. When I had created the first video – one of the pieces of feedback I received was totally unexpected. The video starts with a silver screw head sticking out of the name – but originally, it was a large black screw head with no thread – and my eldest son told me it looked just like a penis! 🙂 When I looked at it again – I had to agree with him! Oops!! So – after a brief discussion with Andy – it was changed from that – to a silver screw with a thread running down it – and that’s what you see today in the “official” video release! I have to say that I think I received some excellent feedback from friends and family and I have tried to understand all the points they made and the implications involved in changing anything. I am very open to ideas and opinions and I’m pretty sure they will notice that I had definitely taken their comments on board and acted on them. It’s great to receive feedback where being PC or fear of offending doesn’t dominate!
Cap’n Joe: Where can people find out more about what’s going on in your world?
Paul: I have created a website which is more like a blog, so that anybody interested in finding out what’s new or looking back at any of the technical issues I’ve had in the past – or I’m having to deal with now – can follow my journey of bringing Makestuff & Munchit® to life here: http://makestuffandmunchit.co.uk/
Cap’n Joe: What do you do when you aren’t writing?
Paul: I like playing golf. I am a football fan of ARSENAL and visit the Emirates Stadium in London to see them play as often as I can. I play tennis with my family at the weekends too! I enjoy socialising with friends and love eating freshly prepared and freshly cooked food. Being naturally creative, though, I’m always busy working on various concepts. Having Makestuff & Munchit® to promote is occupying a great deal of my (ahem!) “spare” time! So I’d really like to thank you for providing me with this opportunity of allowing your BLOG readers to find out a little about Makestuff & Munchit® and when they do – I really hope that they feel that they can provide me with some feedback on whether they like the characters, the concept, or both! I’d really appreciate that. (Thank You Readers!)
Cap’n Joe: Where can readers go to find your eBook?
Cap’n Joe: Thank you Paul for taking time out from your busy day to answer my questions. I’ve enjoyed getting to know a lot more about you. It’s a pleasure having you join my blog. I wish you the very best with your book and any you publish in the future.