The Author’s Dilemma

A friend recently asked me, ‘Why should I read your books? I mean, if I didn’t know you, if I weren’t your friend, why would I read your books?’

I imagine every author believes s/he has something to say, a tale to tell. Through the skilful weaving of thoughts and dreams, by way of masterfully artistic use of the English language, s/he has something to offer the rest of the world. I believe that myself. If there’s no such thing as an ‘original idea—it’s all been thought of before’, there’s always a new way of saying something in hopes of stimulating a positive reaction in the reader. There is the added benefit of sharing something of oneself, of opening oneself to others in hopes that by sharing ideas and dreams, others might better like, love, appreciate and/or understand the author as a person.

My books are listed at the end of this article, and you can click on the links to study them for yourself. Lives of the Ain’ts: Comedic Biographies of Directors Errant is a collection of faux-biographies. Almost all of the people are fictional, and their stories are utter nonsense! Don’t we need a bit of nonsense in our lives? Something that draws laughter without causing pain, insult or humiliation? I originally wrote those stories to offer a bit of comic relief to the Annual Meetings of a facility of which I used to be Executive Director. If people were laughing at me, at least I gave them a comfortable reason—I was being intentionally silly, and adding a spirit of fun in the midst of ponderous material usually brought forward in an Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors. Everyone enjoys a good laugh, and it doesn’t have to be at anyone’s expense.

The Inn of Souls is about a professor who rented an old Inn for a summer, intending to write another scholarly book. He found the Inn occupied by the spirits of a number of people who had lived and died in different times, each of whom had his/her own story, had made mistakes, or lived with misconceptions. I was very excited about this book because the idea came as a spark one night, and I thought, ‘I’d better write that down before I forget.’ Before I realized it, it was 3 AM and I’d written fifteen pages! People I told about the book were fascinated by the idea of a 250-year-old ghost of a five-year-old girl who was at once the youngest and oldest person at the Inn. People like to hear the stories of others—sometimes it’s an entertaining distraction, and other times, offers insight into some element of their own characters. Humour shakes up thinking because it has an element of surprise.

To me, my ‘greatest work’ (possibly because it’s also the most recent work) is Behind These Red Doors: Stories a Cathedral Could Tell. It’s in two volumes (the second being the most recently published), and it relates stories and experiences of people who have visited this Cathedral in the course of more than a century. It speaks of problems, and of hope. It offers different ways of perceiving situations, and I hope encourages thoughtfulness in the reader.

Someone told me, ‘I’m a practicing Atheist; I don’t think I’d be interested your book since its chief character is God.’ I think, though, that he might, because even without the theological component, there’s a lot that can be learnt, or enjoyed, in those stories. Sometimes the best solution to a problem is simply not to be alone. At other times, the best solution is to sit quietly and be still.

Without being pathologically voyeuristic, we can look at the lives of others and be entertained. We can be motivated, and sometimes enlightened, by the fact that no problem is original—they’ve all been had before. We can awaken feelings or dreams we’d forgotten we had, or recognize ourselves in someone else.

That’s why you should read my books!

Paul TN Chapman
[email protected]


If you enjoyed reading this, please take a look at my eBooks on

Behind These Red Doors: Stories a Cathedral Could Tell :
Behind These Red Doors: Stories a Cathedral Could Tell Vol 2:
Lives of the Ain’ts: Comedic Biographies of Directors Errant:
The Inn of Souls:

These books are also available in paperback on

Watch excerpt readings from these books by clicking on the links below:

Behind These Red Doors: Stories a Cathedral Could Tell:
Lives of the Ain’ts: Comedic Biographies of Directors Errant:
The Inn of Souls:

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