I used to mess around with short fiction at school, but I only started writing seriously about fourteen years ago.
- When did you feel called to write?
Fourteen years ago J. I asked God for something that I could do for Him and the desire to write hit me within a matter of weeks.
- Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
I usually start with thinking about an interesting situation or scene. Occasionally, one will stick and I then start thinking about events surrounding the scene. If end up with enough material to work with, it may end up on my list of potential stories. At this point, I write the opening chapter. This is usually enough to tell me whether or not it can work as a novel.
- What are your thoughts on critique groups?
I was invited to one a couple of years back, but I have never actually taken part in one. The problem is a lack of time. I simply don’t have enough sand in my hourglass to do everything I want to do. If they could find a way of adding another eight hours to the standard day, I would be a very happy scribbler.
- Was it hard to develop a writing style?
For me, yes. It took most of the past fourteen years for me to find my voice. My first attempt at a novel was described as “solid but not slick enough”. Since then I have worked diligently to find my own voice. I’m not sure how “slick” my writing is now, but at least it is mine.
- Who is your favorite author?
- Have you dealt with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I get a mild version of writer’s block fairly regularly. Sometimes the words just flow. Other times I can spend days in a staring contest with my monitor. I get over these blocks by reading. I find that the act of reading will often be enough to jump-start my own creativity.
- Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?
I once read that you should write what you know. I am pretty certain that, in the act of creating a character, we all draw on our own experiences. So, yes, definitely.
- Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?
The hardest scene for me to write was a church scene. I was desperate to avoid being preachy, yet the scene was essential for the story. I think I managed to avoided making it preachy in the end (at least I hope I did). As for making myself cry, I did manage to make myself choke up one time. I was reading a chapter that seemed to make everyone who read it a bit teary. I wanted to see if I could identify exactly what it was that triggered the emotion. While reading it, I choked up. And, yes, I did identify the trigger.
- Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?
I like to have a very broad outline. I liken it to remembering an old film I’ve seen years before, in which I can remember the mood of the film, and the general plot, but not the details. That way, I can let the story grow, but without getting lost on the way.
- What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?
A sense that God is in control and loves us more than we can ever imagine.
- Can you share any upcoming projects with us?
Hmm. Well I have two finished stories with my publisher at the moment. Plus a long humorous poem for kids, written in the style of Dr Seuss. At the moment I’m busy writing a sequel to my debut novel Alpha Redemption. And I have another story waiting to be written, plus an old story that I want to rewrite and another that I am thinking about.
- How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?
Jesus was a story teller. He used stories to help explain difficult concepts. On ten occasions Jesus started a parable with the words: “The kingdom of heaven is like. . .”. He could have just “told” them about heaven, but he knew it would be more effective to “show” them through a story. If someone ever suggested that certain elements of my story were un-Christian, I would probably direct them to go and read through their Bible again and underline anything that they would consider to contain “un-Christian” elements if they encountered it in a modern novel. I think most of Revelation would qualify, as would much of the account of Moses’ time in Egypt.
- Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?
I love to watch a good film, or listen to some music. When I’m not relaxing I am usually exercising, or watching sport. I used to be a fitness instructor so cannot imagine not being fit. I’m not a fitness fanatic, but I do like to train.
- With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?
I commute six miles to work and back on my bicycle every day, which means I have about an hour-and-a-half with nothing to do other than watch the world roll by. What I started doing a few years ago was to write my novel on the way to work. I would run through plots and narrative and dialogue in my head, and then write them down as soon as I got to a computer. It is quite effective.
- When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?
I tend to concentrate on the main characters. I don’t do an outline, but I imagine what they are like, and how they fit into the story. Then I let them grow organically with the story, adjusting and tweaking as I go. Sometimes this means rewriting a part of the novel, but that is just a part of writing so I don’t mind.
- Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?
Be prepared for rejection, criticism, and a lot of hard work. Forget those fortunate few who beat the odds and became instant bestsellers. Focus instead on becoming a better writer. God may not want you to sell a million copies, but then again He might. Focus on the pleasure of writing. Be prepared to market yourself and your book, even if you cringe at the very idea.
- Where can readers find your books and contact information?
My personal site: www.pabaines.com
My publisher: www.splashdownbooks.com
- Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?
Yes, enormous amounts, especially for any work that I consider a part of my ministry. I feel that, as a Christian writer, I should do nothing without God’s blessings. My prayer used to be: please let my book be published. Now it is: please don’t let my book be published, unless you want it to be.
- What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?
I actually do most of my writing during my lunch break at work. My office can get quite noisy, so I usually listen to music through my headphones. I like Rachmaninoff, or a movie soundtrack if I need some inspiration.
So, folks. There you have it. Now, most of you will know Mr. Baines a little better. Get to know his books a little better to...go buy them!