Paul Inman is a man with many jobs under his belt. These numerous jobs have resulted in Inman always wanting to try something new. “My friends make fun of me for the amount of jobs that I’ve had during my life. It’s a running joke and it’s a game for them,” Inman said. “They will bring it up occasionally and they will start counting. They’ll get to about fifteen or twenty and then they’ll stop.” After many jobs, he found one that he could call his career: a director of chorus in South Carolina as well as a loving husband and father. Now, he has found one more career to add to his list, a job he never thought he would have: writer.
“I’ve never been a writer, ever. I sat down to write a book and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do this.’ I did not succeed at first, but then, eventually, I really thought about it and figured out what I wanted to do with it. Then I was like, ‘Doing it!’ and so I did it,” Inman said. “[I thought], ‘I could [write a book], easy. I’ve got ideas, I’m creative. I can do this.’ So I sat down and came up with a short idea. I wrote a paragraph, then stared at the screen for a long time, and then I was like, ‘I cannot do this. I just can’t do this.’ So then I walked away from it for a while and I tried to develop the idea more in my mind.” After submitting to the first contest the online publishing company Inkshares hosted, Inman emerged one of six winners of the Sword & Laser Collection Contest. Now, Inman is a soon to be published author with his debut, Ageless, hitting bookshelves in early May. For someone who chose one day to start writing, this new author has incredible talent.
The actual idea for the story of Ageless itself came from creative outlets, such as television and movies. “I was watching Lost because Lost was really big at that point, it was still pretty new, and that’s where I kind of got the idea to maybe not tell it in traditional order, not in the standard linear fashion or three part narrative,” Inman said. “The actual idea came from the TV show Fringe where I was watching an episode and [it sparked something in my mind].” There were other influences, such as the X-Men (which readers who are familiar with will see similar connections to) and traveling. Last year, Inman and his wife went on a cross country trip as a belated honeymoon. “The cool thing that I like about traveling is it actually gives me a lot of ideas for stuff to write,” Inman said. “I go somewhere new and then it gets all of this creativeness flowing.”
Inman is one of the lucky writers who rarely get writer’s block. “If I start writing, I need to get to where I’m going,” Inman said. Then he could go a month without writing because life would sometimes get in the way. Due to these spurts, it took him about three years to write Ageless. “I never wrote the book with the intention of putting it out,” Inman said. “I was thinking, ‘Hey, this might be neat,’ but when you start something like that, if you’re starting it for that reason, it may be the wrong reason. For me, I just wanted to see if I could do it. That was another inspiration: to see if I could do it.”
Though writing the story can be a challenge, choosing the title can be just as challenging. For Inman, his original title was one he was not fond of. Even a friend of his who read his story in its earlier stages said that the original title was terrible. One day, while speaking to a group of eighth graders at work, one of the boys named Matthew said to Inman, “Why not just call [your book] Ageless?” I really liked the title, asked him if I could use and, with his consent, the title was finally set in stone. Inman wishes to give a special shout out to Matthew for his help in finding the perfect title for his debut.
With the complexity of Inman’s story, much research went into writing and developing it, especially remaining accurate with the various decades the story visits. Since he didn’t have a lot of money to travel to different places, Inman enjoyed researching everything he could about various locations as well as historical facts. He admitted that sometimes it was easy to research facts, especially when it intersected with his personal life (for example, the early 2000s), while other times it wasn’t and, sometimes, this was the cause of the months when he wouldn’t write. “I would write a chunk of stuff and then I would have to go back and read all this other stuff I had already written so I could keep everything straight and situated,” Inman said. “There was a lot of research that went into the historical stuff, which I loved. It was a lot of fun. That was as much fun for me as making up the story, getting to learn about [history].”
There was one decade that has not happened yet that Inman had to create for his story: the 2020s. He had to create technology for that decade and, to create that, he looked at the technology that is around in today’s society and tried to think of the next reasonable step. What would be the things that would be developed in the next decade? The Augmented Reality (or AR) glasses, for example, are a creation of Inman’s, but resemble the beta tested Google Glass from a few years ago. “As far as the [research for technology was] concerned, Google is your friend. I would Google and then I would make sure Google was correct,” Inman said. He thought about how the digital age was changing and questioned: How logically would things progress? “I wanted it to feel as realistic as possible. But I don’t usually have a preference for realism. I don’t know why I chose to use a more realistic approach. I guess it just felt right for this story,” Inman said.
The realism within Inman’s story is what makes Ageless so enjoyable. Reading the story will be like watching a movie for the readers and that is exactly what Inman wanted. “When I write, I see things visually in my head,” Inman said. “I’m a visual learner so, for me, I have to really sit down and I have to zone out and visualize what I think it might be like.” Referring back to the X-Men, Inman watched the cartoon as a child and compares what the cartoon was like to the live-action movies of today. “As a kid, I saw a lot of models, puppets, and masks [within movies]. Now, with computer technology and CGI, you have [characters] like Optimus Prime who can look photorealistic, but you know in your mind that he’s not really there,” Inman said. “In my mind, I would think out: What do I want this to be like? I also really enjoy Stephen King as an author. He’s really descriptive. When he writes, I can easily visualize it and that’s what I was hoping for. That’s what I’m striving for: inside of your mind, when you’re reading the story, you can just see what’s happening because, for me, it plays out like a movie in my head. I want to, hopefully, be able to help other people see it clearly.”
When writing his characters, Inman found joy in each one of them for very different reasons. He liked writing Alessandra, the main character the story is centered around, because she was complicated and because she had a struggle to overcome. He also liked writing the CIA agent Tony Richards because he was fun, was more of a mentor character, yet also had a bit of sarcasm and silliness. When it came to which characters to focus on more, Alessandra was not focused on as much as readers may think. “I kind of wanted to see what was going on with everybody else. I wanted to know what the other characters were up to and what they were doing. And it worked out because it’s an on-the-run story, so you could go off and be with another character who was possibly searching for her, for example, and that would be OK,” Inman said. “In the ‘rules’ of story writing, leaving your main character behind for a bunch of chapters is probably not a good idea, but when your main character is running away from someone, I feel like it’s all right. It wasn’t necessarily intentional. I just wrote. I just asked, ‘What needs to happen next to progress this story? I just went where the story felt like it wanted to go. I would still have to plan, though, because if I didn’t, how would you keep up with this kind of story? My plan usually came on its own.”
He said some writers are “pantsers” who fly by the seed of their pants when it comes to writing their work and then there are other writers who are “plotters” who write extensive notes and outlines before even beginning their actual work. Inman found himself a part of neither category and that no writer is one hundred percent one or the other. No matter what type of writer Inman considers himself, his biggest fans back him up with fantastic support: his wife and daughter. “They have been fantastic and that is why I dedicated my book to them,” Inman said. They were incredibly supportive even when he felt neglectful as writing consumed much of his time, especially during the editing process when deadlines were hard and fast. “You [write] to entertain or to get a story out or to maybe help someone communicate with someone else. You just want to make connections and then you realize, ‘Hey, I’m making connections by staring at my computer, alone, by myself.’ It is this weird juxtaposition kind of thing. It is lonely sometimes,” Inman said.
Within his story, Inman gave a nod to the relationship he shares with his wife, Kim, through two of his characters, Jack and Virginia (Ginny) Wilson. Jack and Ginny share tender moments throughout various chapters of the book; however, there is one scene that stands out more than the others. “Jack came from nowhere, showering his wife with affection in the form of a beautifully choreographed spin into a sensual dip that ended with a resonant gaze deep into her soul and a light kiss on the mouth. Ginny forgot the world around her, closed her eyes, and drew air deep into her lungs, breathing in pure love. She held it there for a beat and then exhaled, feeling emotions race through her entire body, causing tingling to erupt from her toes to her nose. She felt as if the world spun only for her. In that moment, it did” (Inman 105). “When I wrote that paragraph, I remember exactly what I said to my wife,” Inman said. “I said to my wife, ‘You know what? Those two people, that’s me and you. That’s me being in love with you.” He also let his daughter, Parker, create the name of a pivotal character in the book.
Of the many jobs Inman has had, the job of a writer seems to fit him very well. He began his writing career just to see if he could complete a book, but he did not realize how much he would end up enjoying it. “I remember [getting] to page 27 and I remember I stopped typing and I looked at my wife. She was like, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I have officially written more than I’ve ever written on anything ever in my entire life.’ That is just on the manuscript. In the actual book, it is probably only page 20 or something,” Inman said. “I remember that being a pretty huge milestone and I thought, ‘I think I could maybe do something with this because I just broke my record. How crazy is that?’ It would always blow my mind when I checked my word count and it was something crazy.” With Ageless about to be officially released, Inman is already working on his next project. He is co-authoring a story with Patrick Ryerson and currently funding it through Inkshares: Motor City Chronicles — Book One: Transgressions. It is a novella and the first of a six-part novella series. When all of the parts have been written, they will equal one big novel.
Inman is another humble author among the many out there who is thankful for the opportunity to publish his debut and is thankful to those who helped make the publication a reality.
Originally published at www.examiner.com on May 1, 2016.