Saturday, September 19, 2020

Inside the Mind: Paul Cristo


Welcome to Inside the Mind where we here at The Faerie Review interview authors and creators.
Our guest today is Paul Cristo, the author behind Deadheading.

Lily: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview Paul. Deadheading gave me chills. With COVID still going, it’s easy to imagine this happening in real life. Most zombie books I’ve read have the hero start off as a hero, but Lewis kind of hides through it. What inspired you to take such a different route? 

Paul:   Thanks for reading Deadheading! And thanks for noticing that about Lewis. One overarching theme in Deadheading is the pruning of the old to encourage the sprouting of the new, and I wanted Lewis to come from a place of myopic, self-subservience and grow from there. 

I was also a little tired of the main characters in books being given a little too much benefit of the doubt when navigating environments and situations like those in Deadheading. There’s a bit more of an imposed learning curve for Lewis, who would much rather be watching Breaking Bad than growing his own food or blowing houses up.

Lily: He's definitely the most believable 'hero' I've ever read in a book like this. Was Lewis based on anyone? 

Paul:   I suppose it’d be naïve of me to deny there’s not a little bit of me in Lewis, though he might be a bit more cavalier with snark. But I wanted Lewis to be familiar to everyone in some way; sort of a stand in for the reader. He was designed to invoke the question “What would I do if this happened to me?”

Lily: Honestly I can't say my own reaction would be that much different! Did you need to do a lot of research to write this? 

Paul:   Definitely. Lewis gets himself into a lot of situations entirely unfamiliar to him, from growing his own food, to making bombs, to flying an airplane, and I needed those to read as plausibly as possible. That meant inserting information too detailed to fake. I interviewed several green-thumbed friends, a pharmaceutical chemist, and an airplane pilot just to name a few, to ensure the actions Lewis performs are unimpeachable. Well, mostly unimpeachable anyway.

Lily: That sounds like a lot of work but I'd say it definitely paid off. Is there another book in the works? 

Paul:   Yes! The second book will focus more on the sickness that plagued the planet and maybe a bit more on the curmudgeonly doctor.

Lily: I can't wait to read it, that sounds like a great follow up. Now we’d like to talk about you as a writer. Do you have a ritual you perform to get in the writing headspace? 

Paul:   I usually have some kind of tea while writing which helps me focus. Sometimes playing unobtrusive, pulsey film music in the background helps me concentrate. 

What helped me most was making an agreement with myself that I’d write something every day, even if it was only a few words. Sticking to that is what allowed me to finish the book.

Lily: That sounds like a great way to get yourself writing, and I can just imagine you writing some scenes in the book to that music! Where’s your favorite place to write? 

Paul:  I seem to be a better night writer (insert Hasselhoff meme here) than day. Finding somewhere cave-like is ideal; somewhere allowing for a grandpa sweater. There are times I’m envious of Jack Torrance and his arrangement at the Overlook. 

Lily: Ah the Overlook. Always wanted to go there hehe. I'm a night owl myself so I can totally understand the need for somewhere dark! Do you prefer to type or hand write your first draft? 

Paul: I’m much too fond of my mechanical keyboard to handwrite anything, though I do enjoy occasionally jotting down notes with a pencil if I think of them.

Lily: For me I can't guarantee I'll be able to read my notes later if I write as fast as I think (and mechanical keyboards are amazing for keeping up). Let’s finish up with some fun questions and get inside your mind. What’s one food everyone should try before they die? 

Paul:   Seeded, whole grain sourdough bread. I mean the dark, substantial kind that will tear a paper bag if dropped in too high.

Lily: I can't say I've tried that, but now I need to. I might have to make it, I don't think I've seen it around here (but then again I don't live in a city). Would you rather be covered in fur, scales, or spines? 

Paul:   You really got my brain spinning with this one. With fur, warmth wouldn’t be much of a problem anymore, but I’d shed incessantly, and imagine how often the plummer’d have to come out to snake the shower drain. Scales would basically guarantee every Olympic swimming gold medal, but being scaled implies I’m no longer endothermic, but exothermic, and installing heat lamps around the house isn’t very practical. That leaves spines, which delights the 8-year-old in me who always wanted to be a He-Man villain. But being spined eliminates any kind of travel involving a cushioned seat. I’ll have to get back to you on this.

Lily: Hehe I have to admit I never really thought about it that way, but I love the thought you put into it. I can definitely say the fur would cause a nightmare (long hair can be too). What’s a boring fact about yourself? 

Paul:   I don’t use the QWERTY keyboard layout; I use DVORAK.

Lily:  OK now that's interesting, I don't know if I've ever known anyone who doesn't use QWERTY! (For those that don't know DVORAK was designed to be more efficient than QWERTY). If you could pick one superpower, what would it be?  

Paul:   My instinct would be to fly unaided, but that’s what everybody says. The power to grant wishes would be fun.

Lily:  Ooooh wishes would be a fun one. What’s one movie you could rewatch over and over without getting sick of it?

Paul:   Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report has always been impervious in that way. The story, the music, the photography, the odd-ball characters, the noir-esque grit; all its elements somehow make it endlessly entertaining. 

Lily:  It's definitely a great movie. Do you put the milk in the bowl before or after the cereal? How do you feel about doing it the other way? 

Paul:   I reject the premise there are milk-first people out there. Invariably, there would be too much milk or too much cereal. That is, unless you’re taking the time to actually measure the cereal and milk before pouring it into the bowl, which makes you a bonafide monster.

Lily:  I can't like I just laughed at that last part, but I have to admit I completely agree. There's no way to get the right ratio if you put milk first without measuring! Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?  

Paul:   If you happen to appreciate the Star Trek nerdom, my friend Jonathan and I host a podcast where every week we break down a random episode from the first five series while cracking wise. We’re adequately funny, so we’re told. It’s called The Measure of an Episode (

Lily:  How can readers discover more about you and you work?  

Paul:   The best way to keep apprised of what’s new with me is being on my mailing list, which you can join on my websiteYou can also email me at

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