Interview with Paul Clayton, Author of Escape From the Future and Other Stories

22 Jun 2022

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Escape From the Future and Other Stories?

This book is speculative fiction. Culture has always been passed from one generation to another, perhaps modified slightly. Now it seems it’s being jettisoned. Novelist Tom Wolfe (The Bonfire of the Vanities: A Novel) said authors should write about the significant and controversial matters of their time and lives, and that is what I do in this book, especially in the first story, Escape From the Future.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Escape From the Future and Other Stories, what would they be?

I’ll let the readers do that, or the movie producers, if some stumble onto my work and want to make a movie out of it.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I would say literary hybrids, like literary/science fiction, or literary/historical or literary/thriller. I lean toward serious subjects.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

The latest edition of the great WWII novel, From Here to Eternity, by James Jones. I’ve read it before, but this new version, commissioned by daughter and author, Kaylie Jones, includes a lot of material edited out by the original publisher. I also intend to re-read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Saul Bellow’s Mr. Sammler’s Planet. And then it’s on to Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, the new translation by Anthony Briggs.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

The scene where Grandpa has just taken off in his time machine and blown all the fuses in the house in the process. Dad and Bobby go down to the basement to investigate. Bobby knows exactly what has happened but has to slowly bring his father along because dad is in denial–“C’mon, Bobby… a time machine?”

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

No. Afraid not. I used to like to write in long hand, cursive. But then I’d have to key it in anyway, so I just use the keyboard. I don’t listen to music; that would be too distracting. I don’t have a beautiful studio with a great view, because I’d be looking out the window and not writing. I simply write, and when I have about a dozen pages, sit on the couch and redline, then key in the changes.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Yes, the best motto ever devised, ‘do onto others as you would have them do onto you.’ When it comes to writing, I would say, ‘just do it; don’t talk about it.’ I think a story is like a fizzy soda inside you. It wants to come out. You should only let it out at the keyboard. Don’t talk about it to your friends or your spouse. Just let it out onto the page.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

I would hope they would remember the situations and the feeling they had while reading, and the ‘mood’ of the story. I remember very few details of the first book I ever read, The Red Dory. But I will never forget the mood of that book. It concerned a young boy, an orphan, or perhaps from a dysfunctional family, who visits a relative, an uncle, or maybe grandfather, who is a lobsterman and lives by the sea. I was depressed as a child and that book took me to a wonderful place I’ve never forgotten–the sea, the smell of seaweed, the cooling fog, and a kindly old man he could love and trust.


Paul Clayton is the author of the new book Escape From the Future and Other Stories

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