Paul J. Stam, Author of “The Telephone Killer”

What is your book about?

As the name implies, “The Telephone Killer,” published by Second Wind publishing, is a murder mystery. But it is not a who-done-it in the usual sense because this killer calls up a television station to tell them who he is going to kill next, or who he has just killed and where they can find the body. His information is accurate, but often misleading. For example he says that his next victim will be at the airport. What the killer is referring to is a ride entitled “Airport” at a park.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I know there are some writers that have the whole book outlined, almost have a storyboard before they start. With “The Telephone Killer” I just started with this guy calling up the TV station to tell them about a bomb he had planted and then just let it go from there. It just sort of went from one event to the next kind of like everyday life except that in a book you can leave out the boring aspects of every day life and only tell the exciting, frightening, happy and beautiful things. Of course that kind of writing takes a lot of going back and editing to make things agree.

What genre are your books?

“The Telephone Killer” is a murder mystery, but I have also written historical novels. I have an adventure novel entitled, “Murder Sets Sail.” It is not a mystery because the reader knows right away who the killer is and who he plans to kill. I have also written an apocalyptic novel. I haven’t tackled horror or science fiction yet, but I may.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a couple of things. I tend to have 2 or 3 things going at the same time. However, my big concentration right now is a family saga that starts in 1944 and goes to the present day. In it fifteen-year-old Margie is seduced by the tent-meeting preacher’s son and has twins. One of the sons becomes a nationally know television preacher and the other becomes a civil rights activist.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

Without a Question it would be Melville’s “Moby Dick.” It is to my mind one of the greatest America Novels. The struggle of good and evil and the god-like attributes of the whale that man can never fathom or explain all couched in a fantastic adventure story is just too, too much.

Do you have a saying or motto for your life and/or as a writer?

I don’t know that it is a saying or motto so much as a life principle and so I hope it flows over into my writing and it is this: “I have no other purpose in life than to add to the sum total of happiness.” My purpose is not to have a best-selling novel. That would be nice, but that is not my purpose. It might be nice to make a lot of money, although I’m not sure about that, but I am sure it is not my purpose. My only purpose for living is to add to the sum total of happiness. It can be a big thing or a little thing. If I save a child from drowning that could be considered a big thing. The parents are happy, the child is happy and everyone understand I have added to the sum total of happiness. At the same time if I pick up a piece of litter on the sidewalk that could bother someone else who saw it, then I have added to the sum total of happiness even though that person doesn’t know about it. They are happier for not having seen something that could have upset them.

Are you lucky?

I am a whole lot more than lucky. I’m fortunate, I’m in luck, I am outrageously, over-the-top, don’t-hardly-know-how-to-handle-it blessed. I like the word blessed. Unfortunately many people attach a religious connotation to the word blessed. To me it just means that everything is working in my favor. Lucky sort of means I was just bumbling along and fell into a pile of you-know-what and came out covered with diamonds.

Have you ever failed at anything?

Oh, Lord, I’ve failed at a great many things and in many ways. I think it was Dr. Robert Schuller who said, “Failure isn’t fatal unless you make it final.” I have also been outrageously blessed to have succeeded at some things. I don’t think people in general would consider me a great success. But I would rather be outrageously blessed than successful.

What was your childhood like?

It was fantastic. Of course I didn’t know at the time how absolutely fantastic it was. Growing up in Central Africa I was aware that it was not the usual American childhood, but it was mine. I didn’t know how special it was until I came to the United States when I was fifteen and discovered that you didn’t have to raise the vegetables, or slaughter your own livestock to eat. You could just go to a store and buy it.

What is the most important thing that ever happened to you? Why?

Well, now that is really 2 questions. The first “what” question – The most important is I was born. I don’t precisely remember being born, but I have it on good authority that I was. People I trust, who were there, namely my mother, said that it really did happen and I believe her. There are also some ancient pictures with scribbling on the back that say it is a picture of my mother and me. I recognize the woman in the picture as my mother, but that blob on her lap doesn’t look at all like me.

The second “why” question – Well, being born was vitally important because if that hadn’t happened I would have missed out on all the wonderful things that have happened to me in my lifetime one of which is to have “The Telephone Killer” published by Second Wind Publishing.

Click here to buy: The Telephone Killer

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