Ten Questions with Becky Paroz

1. Have you always wanted to be a writer? Or did life step in and change your plans?

I may have wanted to be a writer when I was much smaller and younger. I have always loved books since my mother taught me to read almost before I could walk! I was always an advanced reader, so I wanted to write at some point. I lost that desire as I got older and become more interested in money – so I became an engineer and a construction project manager. When I finally came back around to creative writing, I realise that I have been a writer for all those years in construction – reports, plans, procedures, technical documents – but I had never thought of the writing as a separate skill from the roles I worked in. Now I have been creatively writing for nearly 10 years and have contributed to many magazines, blogs, books, and written my own books.

2. What was your first novel, and where did the idea come from?

I haven’t published a novel as yet, although I have three different ideas in various stages of progress – which is such a writer thing to say! I have an ambitious plan for a set of shenanigans set in the construction world that I want to write – they do say write what you know! I plan to add a little murder and mayhem to it, and I am enjoyed crafting the first book.

3. Are you self or traditionally published? What advice do you have for others?

I am firmly in the self-published camp. Apart from being a control freak in my job which seems to have followed me into the writing elements, I really think the traditional publishing process could do with being updated and less “restrictive” to new authors. I find the traditional model rather elitist as it is not about being a good story written well, but about market acceptability. Trad publishers don’t like taking risks, and I think there is such exciting and interesting topics being explored in the world of self-publishing that I hope, one day, the trad publishers can start to see the value of this side of it.

If you plan to self-publish, treat it like a business, or at least something you want to be proud of at the end product. Invest in editors, beta readers, and a good cover design. It will give you the best chance at attracting an audience.

4. Take me through your top three books of all time? (tough one, I know!)

Only 3? Can I cheat and name authors?

Terry Pratchett is one of my absolute favourites, and the pick of all of his (which is no easy task) is Mort. Death decided he needs an apprentice, but when you are an anthropomorphic representation of humans, sometimes things get lost in practice. It is satiric, funny, and a well-told comedy from the mind of a genius.

Second that comes to mind is Robert Heinlein and the book Friday. Told from the perspective of an “enhanced person” (Friday – so name because that was the day she was “born”) which is a person who has been “mixed in a test tube” to provide all the human attributes but at the highest possible level of development, this is the tale of a rollicking adventure through Heinlein’s worlds by someone who just doesn’t quite get humans, but who is, at her core, very human indeed.

I feel a theme here but it is not actually deliberate! My love of Sci-fi comes from the concept of looking at mankind through an outsiders lens – something both these authors do so well.

To throw a different theme out there, and a different genre, I also love Phillipa Gregory. She writes from the perspective of women in a very turbulent and world-changing time of history. I’d be hard-pressed to pick just one of her books, as they are all fascinating, and document from both sides of the perspective during the era. I think I will pick The Last Tudor. It paints a different picture of the queen, Elizabeth, than the benevolent ‘saint’ we see her as in the movies. It reminds us that royalty will do what it must to maintain power, no matter the personal costs. Especially when those costs can be borne by others. A powerful reminder that being close to the throne can be more dangerous than being on the throne!

5. What are you currently reading?

I am currently going through a variety of books written by women from Africa and have turned their mythology into some fascinating reading.

Witches Steeped in Gold is one I have just finished.

6. What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a series of non-fiction about using project management principles to produce and write your book (3 parts series).

I’m also reading up on how to write novels to progress my first book in my construction fiction series. This is my “fun” project mostly for myself, but I hope that it will be of interest to readers once I get the book/s into a publishable state.

I also have a magazine article to finish for an industry publication.

7. When you're not writing, what are you doing?

I run my own consultancy that offers project management in the construction world, mentoring for men and women in this space, technical writing, and training in how to write and self-publish your own books using project management principles.

I also have 2 monsters that are disguised as Rhodesian Ridgebacks that are my world and need lots of cuddles daily!

I have regular spots on podcasts and am a keynote speaker. Sometimes, I get sleep!

8. Do you have a specific place to write?

Because I have been on construction sites in various states of usability, I am able to write just about anywhere under any circumstances. I do have an office, and am currently in the process of setting that up to be more of a haven to become my writing nook.

9. If you could have dinner with three authors OR literary characters, who would it be?

Sir Terry Pratchett

Anne McCaffrey

Robert Heinlein

There would be plenty more on the list if I could, but these 3 are probably my biggest reading and writing influences.

10. What does a typical day look like for you?

I don’t have a typical day really. It always starts with the doggos – feeding and fun as they always wake with plenty of energy! Then it becomes a case of what does my appointment book say – technical writing, bookwork, clients, or my personal writing.

My husband works FIFO, so the activities change depending on when he is home. I am not a routine driven person, so I enjoy the flexibility that I have each day to create the life I want to live.