Paula Priamos’ writing was featured in the anthology Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Post Magazine, among others. She teaches English and Creative Writing at California State University and lives in Southern California with her husband and stepsons. This is her first book.Read a Q & A Session with Paula Priamos
EP: What inspires your writing?
Paula Priamos: I wrote The Shyster’s Daughter because I’ve been haunted by my father’s mysterious death and the book is my way of making sense out of what happened. My father was more than a sharp defense attorney who, in his day, could out argue just about anybody in a courtroom. I wanted to capture his character, how he was larger-than-life and how hysterical he could be whether he was spouting off crazy Greek curse words or fearlessly taking on two burglars we caught one evening coming out of our home. As I’ve written in the book, he truly is “a biological part of me, in my blood, my bones, my laughter. He is the darkness in my eyes …”
EP: What is your writing environment like?
My office at home has a large window that looks out on the forest. I live in the San Bernardino mountains. Sometimes I work at my desk or I relax with my laptop on a comfortable chaise lounge I recently bought. It’s dark red, which I guess is a fitting color considering I’m now working on a literary thriller about crimes of passion.
EP: Tell us about a poem, story, essay you’ve written that has special meaning to you.
I’ve written a lot of essays about experiences that have profoundly affected me in some way. I’ve written about what it’s like teaching older students and what I have learned from their hard earned wisdom. I’ve written about race relations here where I live between undocumented male workers and myself every morning when I stop off at Starbucks to get my daily coffee.
EP: Who are some of the authors you like to read?
The authors I like to read are an eclectic group – Jeanette Walls, David Sedaris, Tim O’Brien, Sebastian Junger, and just about anything by Hemingway. I love a well-researched biography of a political figure. I also have an odd pattern of keeping a paperback from the Wallander mystery series on my nightstand. A colleague is to blame for that one.
EP: What things do you like to do to get away from pen and paper?
I’m a serious dog person, so one of my favorite things to do is walk my three dogs to the nearby lake where we all sit on a rock and literally have a moment. I also love to go out to dinner with friends, share a glass or two of Merlot while we all talk too much. I love to go to the movies and to plays. Neil Simon is one of my favorite playwrights.
EP: What do you hope readers find in your writing?
First and foremost, I hope readers are entertained. My intention is to make them feel like they’re participating in my story, figuring things out along with me. I also hope they are able to extrapolate meaning out of my work that they might relate to their own lives.