Paul Collins (Mack Dunstan’s Inferno – 2)


Mack Dunstan’s Inferno – 2: Lisa Binion, BellaOnline’s Fiction Writing Editor–My Interview with Paul Collins, author of Mack Dunstan’s Inferno.

–Part two–

I still found numerous grammatical/punctuation mistakes throughout your book, though not nearly as many as in Mystery of Everyman’s Way. There were also some mixed-up homonyms and confused words. Does someone proofread your work for you?

Mack Dunstan’s Inferno 2, Paul Collins (Mack Dunstan’s Inferno – 2)I do have a sense of humor about the publishing business.  I try not to take things personally, but at times it is difficult. I feel our school systems mass-produce critics, not creative types. That is my answer to that question. LOL!

Is there a specific reason you chose self-publishing over commercial publishing?

A lot of publishers kept away from Mack Dunstan’s Inferno because of fear of lawsuits. iUniverse took the chance.

Have you found self-publishing to be very profitable?

Mystery of Everyman’s Way sold over 500 copies and Mack Dunstan’s Inferno will do the same!

Have you always had a desire to write? If not, when did this desire to write first begin?

I scribbled always. Only when I left full-time high school did I take night school courses and got that scribble bug into me. After I dropped out of my third year at York University, where I studied literature, I took a night school course in creative writing at Ryerson University.  Author Barbara Gowdy was my professor and one-time movie producer David Brady taught me screenwriting.  When I first got published, I wrote in the three-act structure, beginning, middle, and end, much like a screenplay. My 2003 book Prescience Rendezvous was published as-is. Publish America did not proof that work, nor market it.

I felt I improved with King without an Empire. Somewhere, around that time I discovered It took eight months to write Mystery of Everyman’s Way. Vicky Kennedy, a former publisher of, helped mentor on how to write a proper paperback.  Imagine a 120-page manuscript, single-spaced, every ten pages ends with a chapter. Usually, a chapter would end on a phone call, a knock at the door, or a cryptic comment. That is how she mentored me to write a paperback. That is how Charles Dickens wrote his books. One chapter a month in magazines, or periodicals, until the printing press brought the dream of books alive. I used Vicky Kennedy’s very formula in writing not only Mystery of Everyman’s Way, but Mack Dunstan’s Inferno.

Mack Dunstan’s Inferno 2, Paul Collins (Mack Dunstan’s Inferno – 2)Do you plan out an entire book before writing? Do you have an outline prepared to start a book? Or do you allow your Muse to take over and possibly change what you had planned on writing?

When I do write, I have to be inspired, I have a beginning, middle, and end to it in my mind. Every once and a while, I fill in a spot, go to another spot, and keep filling in the work, much like a quilt. Writing a book for me is a lot like knitting a quilt! Ha, he Ha!

Are you currently working on another book?

No, I have taken a break from writing. A bigger, mainstream publishing house would motivate me to write full time.

Do you write each and every day? Or do you write only when you feel inspired?

No, I must be inspired. I must have an idea.

What advice would you give to writers who haven’t yet been published?

I tell new writers to learn the art of description. Like Barbara Gowdy told the creative writing class in 1996, she said to describe a room. Next assignment. Describe a situation. Reverse that. Describe a person if you can. If you have the bug in you, you can describe a room, a situation, or even a person, but you must have the bug in you!

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