Sunday, March 31, 2013

Just Write Books Author "Talks" Paul Betit

Paul Betit's Books
In 2004, Paul Betit came to Just Write Books when he needed a cover designed for his first book Phu Bai. He walked across the street from his then Portland Press Herald Brunswick office to the office of Just Write Communications where I was in the process of birthing Just Write Books. At that time I helped him create the cover while he worked with another publisher. When Paul had his second book in manuscript form he came to Just Write Books. We published Kagnew Station: Sequel to Phu Bai—the fifth book for the business. Paul Betit and I worked together to make a beautiful cover and book interior that would match his first rate murder mystery starring a US Army intelligence investigator.

In 2010, Paul Betit’s two books were the first ebooks produced by Just Write Books.  Paul has been an integral part of the growth and success of Just Write Books.  I count on his advice and support as much as he counts on us at Just Write Books.

JWB: When did you start writing?
Betit: I began writing non-fiction articles and columns for newspapers while I was still in college nearly 40 years ago. Following graduation in 1974, I’ve continued to write as a newspaper news reporter and sportswriter. During the 90s, I delved into fiction. While I’m not necessarily a big fan, I settled on writing in the mystery-suspense genre.

JWB: What are some of the themes that you return to regularly in your writing?
Betit: I don’t consider myself a thematic writer, per se. I just like to write what I like to read. Good stories, with good characters and an engaging plot. I like to inform and to entertain. In writing for newspapers, you get to inform but you really have to stretch in order to make it entertaining, too. A few readers have informed me they have detected a subtext in my writing. Perhaps, there is a subtle anti- heroism or anti-establishmentarianism that has been a recurring theme in my writing. If there is, I assure you it isn’t by a totally conscious effort.

JWB: What is one event that has shaped your writing?
Betit: Of course, the biggest event in my life, outside of my marriage and the birth of my two sons, has been the time I spent in the Army stationed in South Vietnam and Ethiopia. So far, my experiences in both places have provided me with plenty of fodder for my fiction. Some of those experiences were enhanced and layered into the narrative of my first two books, giving them an authentic feel of what life was like in those places during those times in the 60s. As I continue with the development of my main character, Army CID investigator John Murphy in other books, I will come to rely more heavily on my experiences and events I witnessed while working the police beat in my first newspaper job.

JWB: What are three of your favorite books to reread?
Betit: This is an interesting question. While there are movies that I will watch over and over again, on cable not in a theatre, I’ve never reread a book. Reading a book is a big investment of time and energy. You can watch a movie in snippets and still get something out of it, but you’ve got to read the entire book to derive the full pleasure or depth of experience. If I were to select books to reread they would be ones I read when I was a young man. Some of my top candidates would include novels such as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, The Great Gatsby and For Whom The Bell Tolls and the nonfiction Black Like Me. It would be interesting to view these works through the prism or 40 or more years of experience.

JWB: Any advice for young writers?
Betit: The more I write the more I come to realize that it truly can be an art, but that shouldn’t deter those people who don’t consider themselves artists from writing. For example, all of renowned painters and sculptors from the Renaissance Period not only possessed a tremendous spark of creativity that set them apart, but they had also mastered the tools that enable them do what they did. It’s the same with writing. Imagine. It’s possible to engage someone you don’t even know in a one-sided conversation simply by the way you assemble the words and phrases in a piece of writing.
Producing good writing is like producing a good painting or a good piece of sculpture, and, like all artists, you must master the tools of your trade. It took me a long time to figure that one out.

JWB: What are you currently working on?
Betit: While I continue to work full-time as a sports writer for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, I have been pecking away at a third book in a series revolving around John Murphy entitled The Man in the Canal. In this book, set in Sweden during the summer of 1971, Murphy goes undercover to find a killer of an American soldier in West Germany believed to be hiding out among the American military deserters who took refuge in that country during the Vietnam War. In this story, I introduce Magnus Lund, a Swedish police inspector based in a small inland town who is trying to solve the murder of another American. The plot trajectory swings back and forth between Murphy and Lund as they work separately, unknown to each other, on cases that ultimately are bound together.

Author Bio
Working as an intelligence analyst, Paul Betit spent nearly two years at Kagnew Station. For the more than 30 years, he's worked as newspaperman in Maine. He lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Deborah. The couple has two sons. 

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