Guest Author Interview – Paul Hollis

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The Hollow Man Series

Title: The Hollow Man (Book 1)

Genre: Thriller/Suspense/True Crime/Espionage

 Synopsis: A terrorist’s plot, the assassination of a prime minister, holds the key to an apocalyptic plot to destroy Europe’s economy. It’s impossible to stop, but one man doesn’t know enough to think the world can’t be saved. He’s no hero; not clever or capable, talented or tested. The Hollow Man is just trying to survive in an uncertain climate where terrorism is changing the rules of how we live.


Title: London Bridge is Falling Down (Book 2)

Genre: Thriller/Suspense/True Crime/Espionage

 Synopsis: In an exhilarating blend of adventure and international intrigue, U.S. field analyst Doc and his partner, Zita, an MI6 agent, are drawn into the harrowing world of espionage where terrorism casts its ugly shadow over innocence. Doc and Zita are the most original characters to appear in years. London Bridge is Falling Down heralds the arrival of a new breed of lightning-paced, intelligent thriller – surprising at every twist, absorbing at every turn, and in the end, utterly unpredictable—right up to its astonishing conclusion.

Paul Hollis, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Paul Hollis. While Paul is an active member of International Thriller Writers and a world tourist, he brings his own unique viewpoint to his thriller series. Welcome to my blog, Paul.  

CH: Can you sum up The Hollow Man Series in two sentences?

PH: In over his head, a U.S. government analyst is no hero; not clever or capable, talented or tested. The Hollow Man is just trying to stay alive in an uncertain world where terrorism is changing the way we live.

CH: Where do your ideas come from?

PH: Finding ideas isn’t hard. Ideas come from our environment and personal experiences that bring them to life. Applying ideas to create believable characters that do what you tell them to do is much harder. And putting one word after another to construct sentences, paragraphs and finally chapters is the hardest thing a writer can do: making it interesting, making it new.

CH: Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept? Did you have to do a lot of research?

PH: I don’t have a particular plot formula. Since my books are based on true experiences, the stories came to me as a whole concept. I lived with the consequences of those times for forty years. With The Hollow Man Series, there was a bit of research to get the facts reset and memory searches to refresh the sequencing of events but the plots were always there.

CH: How did you come up with the premise for writing this series?

PH: Based on true events during the early 1970’s, The Hollow Man Series traces some of my experiences as a young man traveling in Europe. At the time, terrorism was on the rise and I had been assigned to learn as much as I could about it. Most early acts of terror were specific, personal and damage was focused on a distinct, definable enemy. But terrorism was beginning to change its strategy to the familiar, senseless chaos we recognize today. The death of political figures no longer seemed to bother us, as much as these new, random attacks against our children. Targets of innocence became preferable, because they hit closer to our hearts and the fear inside us grew larger with each incident.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

PH: The reader won’t find James Bond or Jason Bourne in these pages, but he/she will find a memorable read. I like to say 80 percent of my books are 90 percent true. In conjunction with flawed, yet, identifiable characters, vivid imagery, and nonstop action, The Hollow Man Series was made to be experienced with the senses. Smells and tastes are as important as sights and sounds. And if the reader comes away feeling something too, then I will be satisfied.

It’s important for me to completely immerse the reader, drawing him/her totally into each scene. I want the reader to see what’s going on around them, feel the excitement, and hear the voices. When readers tell me The Hollow Man Series should be on the big screen, I feel like I’ve made the story completely real.

CH: Where did you get inspiration for your characters?

 PH: The Hollow Man Series is rooted in my personal experiences, so I’m sure you can guess the characters are derived from real people.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

PH: The terrorist, Chaban, was the most complex character. Though I knew him well, I didn’t know how he thought or what exactly drove him. Not being a stereotypical sociopath, I had to completely separate him from my own memories and feelings then look at him objectively. As I say at one point: ‘He (Chaban) was going to shoot me and go about his day. I peered into his steel-grey eyes and saw something I hadn’t expected. I wanted to see a total lack of empathy. I wanted to see the black bottom of fourth-world paranoia. I wanted to see swamp alligator crazy. Instead, the crystal-clear sanity of reason and right was staring back at me. I saw the calm intelligence he used to calculate and recalculate every brush stroke in his masterpiece. I saw the untroubled conscience allowing him to pull the trigger without another thought.’

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

PH: The main character was easiest to write. He is exactly like me when I was 24 years old. Doc is adventurous, more than a little impulsive, certainly headstrong, and probably reckless, as well.  He doesn’t know enough, to know what he doesn’t know. Doc is just a guy who asks more of himself, than the world believes he can do. But still, that’s not the kind of man we want responsible for protecting us.

Zita also easily came alive on the pages. As an MI6 agent, she is Doc’s counterbalance. She keeps him grounded and adds some sensibility to his lack of focus. She is smart, sensual, sexy, and a trained killer. These skills save their lives more than once in the dark, unfamiliar world of espionage. I left her a bit mysterious, since every woman should have her secrets.

CH: When you wrote the first book in the series, did you realize it would be a series then?

PH: I intended to write one book and be done with it. But half way through The Hollow Man, I realized I was going to have a twelve hundred page War & Peace (or more precisely, War & War) epic or I needed to break it up into a series. There was a natural segmentation by country and assignment, so it became easy enough to separate the books into three full novels.

CH: Which book was harder to write Book 1 or Book 2?

PH: For me, The Hollow Man was more difficult than London Bridge is Falling Down. I was new to writing and needed to experiment with voice, characterizations, plot sequencing, phrasing—everything. Rewrites were difficult and plentiful, as I learned the finer points of the tradecraft. I finally found my voice and settled into a workable rhythm half way through the first book. Editing (all 26 versions!) was a struggle as I learned to rewrite and tweak my early experimentation.

CH: What is the hardest part of writing for you? (outline, draft, edit, write)

PH: I’m a pantser—little to no outline preparation. I write from a very shallow sketch, partially on paper and the rest bouncing around my brain uncontrolled. Because my work is mostly character driven, I’ve talked myself into believing this is an advantage. The plot is laid out in chapter boxes using a few sentences to keep the action moving with the characters. As the characters come to life, change, grow, etc., the plot changes in the same way.

Although, I try to remain true to my superficial plot outline, occasionally it strays because of character development. So, my biggest struggle is keeping the characters within the bounds of the hollow storyline. It’s important to me that plot and character exist in sync like words and music. Otherwise, a fully plot driven novel is just a story told without the sound and passion of real life and a wholly character driven novel is at best, characters looking for something to do to give their lives meaning.

CH: Is there a message in this series that you want the readers to grasp?

PH: My message is simple. Get out, see the world, and broaden your perspective. I’ve lived in some exotic places, such as London, Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Anchorage, and many more. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in all fifty states and almost as many countries. If you’re thinking of your dream vacation spot right now, I have probably been there.

These experiences have allowed me to interact with people within their own cultures, experience their spiritual and political environments, and understand their hopes and dreams. Consumed with an overwhelming fascination to learn something from every person encountered along my journey, I was able to understand the world through their eyes; its animosities, ambitions, and motivations. As a result, The Hollow Man Series has a ring of realism that pulls the reader into the scene with the characters, whether it’s entering a dark alley in Madrid or sitting in a café on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

CH: What can we expect next, is there a book 3 in the making soon?

PH: My work in progress is Surviving Prague, the third installment of the series. A British MI6 agent and an American field analyst are running for their lives after being implicated in the murder of a high ranking government official. Trapped in a Communist country with no way out, the two are forced to find the killer to save their own lives. But the treacherous trail leading through the dark underworld of terrorism takes them right to the center of a plot to dominate Western Europe.

CH: What has been the best compliment you’ve received about your writing of this series?

PH: I have been lucky enough to enjoy many positive reviews and comments about The Hollow Man Series. Most reflect the following sentiments from one of my very first reviews:

“Paul Hollis is a very visual writer. I could see the countryside unfurling from the train window. I could picture the blood spurting from one of the many villains’ carotid arteries. I could picture the ghost, a murdered little girl forlornly gazing into a camera, or into the main character’s eyes.

“Speaking of cameras, The Hollow Man belongs on the big screen. I’m hoping the author ships this novel to either Indie filmmakers or perhaps to the titans in Hollywood. I predict that if this is adapted for film, it will be a mega hit.

“What audience will enjoy The Hollow Man? Fans of literary fiction will appreciate the craftsmanship. Male readers will love the pacing, the action, and the likable lead. History buffs will appreciate the early 1970’s time period, which almost amounts to a separate character in itself. Former intelligence officers will likely chuckle about the author’s take on the spy world. Anyone with a pulse will enjoy reading The Hollow Man.”

CH: Can you tell my audience where your books are sold?

PH: My books can be found in both electronic and paperback formats on,, and to name a few. Barnes & Noble also carries the paperbacks. If they are sold out when you ask, they will happily order copies through their regular channels.

 CH: How to find Paul Hollis:

CH: Any Closing Remarks?

PH: Thank you for the opportunity, Cheryl!

CH: Thank you so much, Paul Hollis, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book, I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Paul Hollis and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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3 thoughts on “Guest Author Interview – Paul Hollis

  1. Cheryl, thank you so much for the opportunity to share my life and writings with your readers. I’m excited to see their thoughts. Everyone please leave your comments so we can start a conversation. Thank you!

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