Interview: Paul Tobin, author of Prepare To Die!

I’m very excited to have Paul Tobin on the blog today. Paul’s brand new book, Prepare To Die!, just came out in May, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book, and more! Please welcome Paul to the blog!

Paul, you’re an accomplished comic book writer and also have a few short stories under your belt. What made you decide to take the plunge and write a novel? Did you want to be a writer from a young age?
Working on novels was a chance for me to have more freedom, in a couple of different ways. First, I could exactly tell the story that I wanted to tell, with my own characters, my own methods of characterization, etc, all without marketing or editorial constraints from above. And, also, working in comics is such a huge collaborative effort. I write a script. Then a penciller brings it to life. An inker gets it next, then a letterer, a colorist and more… all working together around the script that I’ve written. I really enjoy the process, and some GREAT work can come out of the method, but it also means that each step of the process inevitably veers a bit (or a lot) away from the story that I was trying to tell, so I decided to expand into novels so that I could have projects where I kept the purest form of my story. And, yes… I’ve wanted to be a writer all my life. I’m not sure I realized it at first… it was just one of those unplaceable longings… the type where you have a certain taste in your mouth and you’re not sure what you want… but you DO know that you WANT.

When it comes to your new book, Prepare to Die, I can’t help but think of Toxic Avenger. Of course, you took that basic premise and made it awesome, where Toxic Avenger is…not so awesome. Anyway, I digress… How would you describe Prepare to Die in two sentences?
It’s a superhero story about a common man, where he needs to find a way to be both the superhero he’s become, and the boy he used to be, all while finding a way to give a damn about being either. It’s a response to weak characterization in most comics, because what most fascinates me about heroes and superheroes is the regular person, and the regular life, that’s being affected by all the chaos.

Was it a natural progression for you to go from writing comic books to writing a novel?
Not at all. They’re two very different styles of writing. At first, it could take me a day or more of transition time… so that I could really only work on comics or novels at one time. It’s hard to switch between the two, so I would be, for instance, working on comics and then move over to my novel, and suddenly have to explain the scene, rather than just have an artist draw it. And I’d be able to work more with the inner thoughts, the day to day life, of characters, where in comics that’s not really how it goes. In time, I learned to transition fairly quickly between the two crafts, though it was still a bit like speaking two languages, and intermixing the words now and then.

What do you love the most about writing fantasy?
The ability to go anywhere the story takes me, and therefore being able to keep the reader (and, frankly, myself) from being able to guess what’s next. Literally ANYTHING can be beyond the next door in the story, and I find that to be endlessly intriguing.

What are some of your favorite novels?
I love a lot of Dashiell Hammett’s work. And Raymond Chandler. Some early books by Chuck Palahniuk. Harry Crews was an amazing writer, and Angela Carter. Geek Love was a fantastic read. I’m a fan of Steven Brust and Jim Butcher, and a few hundred other writers as well.

How about comics (besides yours, of course)?
I tend to read a lot of European material. Torpedo by Abuli and Bernet is a favorite. Hugo Pratt’s “Corto Maltese” books may well be my all time favorites. Recently read and really enjoyed the “Miss Don’t Touch Me,” books by Hubert and Kerascoet. The Tintin graphic novels. Depuy & Berberian’s Monsieur Jean stories are amazing, as well. I also really enjoy an online webcomic named Oglaf, which is amazingly humorous, and Not At All safe for work.

If you could read one book again for the first time, which would it be?
I’m going to cheat and pick two, because it would depend on the mood I’m in. Either To Kill A Mockingbird, or Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Super healing. It’s the most pragmatic of powers, and would allow me to be a reckless bastard.

When you find yourself with some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Bicycling, or hanging out with friends talking about art and writing. Going to burlesque shows. And writing. Writing is my day job, I suppose, but I also write for a hobby.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!!)?
I’m finishing up a novel called Agatha, which I’m really excited about. It was an exhaustive work, but well worth it in the end. I’ll be attending the San Diego Comic Con this year, as well as the New York convention, and Heroes in Charlotte, and a few others. I’ll be doing a reading of Prepare To Die! at some of them, and also at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland Oregon on the 2nd of August. And… you can follow me at my website or follow me on Twitter where you’ll find me musing about Godzilla, or girls on bicycles, or why I deserve a jetpack.

About Prepare To Die! | Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
Nine years ago, Steve Clarke was just a teenage boy in love with the girl of his dreams. Then a freak chemical spill transformed him into Reaver, the man whose super-powerful fists can literally take a year off a bad guy’s life. Days ago, he found himself at the mercy of his arch-nemesis Octagon and a whole crew of fiendish super-villains, who gave him two weeks to settle his affairs–and prepare to die. Now, after years of extraordinary adventures and crushing tragedies, the world’s greatest hero is returning to where it all began in search of the boy he once was . . . and the girl he never forgot.